Royal Enfield’s “Build. Train. Race.” Program Hits The Dirt And The Track in 2021
Last year, in the midst of a pandemic, Royal Enfield launched a groundbreaking initiative called “Build. Train. Race.” The program was designed to involve women in building and racing their own custom flat track motorcycles, using the Royal Enfield INT 650 platform. They would then be trained by pro racers and teams, would procure sponsorships, then race their creations in selected American Flat Track rounds.
The program was a resounding success, for the women involved, for Royal Enfield, and for American Flat Track. “Build. Train. Race.” had struck chord with women riders, as well as race fans in general, and would come to the attention of Wayne Rainey and MotoAmerica, the United States road racing series sanctioned by AMA and FIM. Intrigued by the opportunity to attract more women to the sport of motorcycle racing, whether dirt or tarmac, the road racing series collaborated with Royal Enfield to bring their unique “BTR” program to the track for 2021. “I think it’s great that we are working with Royal Enfield and its program to get more women involved in road racing,” said MotoAmerica President Wayne Rainey. “We look forward to meeting them all at Road Atlanta and watching them race at Brainerd, Pitt Race and Barber later in the season.”
BTR competitor Jillian Deschenes at work on her INT 650, and sliding it around a dirt track.
Similar to the flat track program, women riders are handpicked by a panel of judges, their Royal Enfield Continental GT 650s are delivered to them, then they have 3 months to design and build a track worthy race bike. For the MotoAmerica series, pro road racer and master mechanic Melissa Paris will mentor each of the women during each phase of the program, helping them create a working design for their bikes, build a sponsorship platform, and will help train them for the rigors of road racing. Married to legendary 4-time AMA road racing champ Josh Hayes, Paris is a force to be reckoned with herself on the track and in the dirt, having raced for years in the AMA/MotoAmerica Supersport class, the Daytona 200, and several 24-hour World Endurance races. The ladies in “BTR” will be learning from one of the best.
“MotoAmerica is the premier class of racing in the United States and we can’t begin to describe how honored we are to have the “Build. Train. Race.” road race program included in the series this year,” said Bree Poland, Royal Enfield’s Global Brand Manager, Continental GT Platform. “The women who are participating in this program have never built a race bike or raced before. This is literally a dream come true and they are anxious to get training and get out there with the rest of the MotoAmerica paddock. The Continental GT 650 Twin is the perfect motorcycle for people looking to get into road racing and MotoAmerica and the BTR program is the perfect partnership to showcase that.”
A shiny new Continental GT 650, then a pair of Royal Enfield race concepts from 2019 that could serve as templates for track builds.
Like last year, the flat track racing element returns again for 2021, after a popular entrance last season. This year’s builder/racers have already taken ownership of their Mark III INT 650s, and have begun their unique builds. As with the road racing program, most of the work must be conducted by the women themselves, but they are allowed to source parts and components from outside their sponsorships to ensure their bikes are race-ready. The new crop this year will also be mentored and coached by AFT pros in the coming months, and then it’s off to the races.
Says Malary Lee, a Texan with some flat track chops honed at Mama Tried, Day in the Dirt, and The One Show, “I love the concept of a women-built event and I’m excited to line up on the starting line with such rad ladies!” Over in the road racing BTR this year, among a field of talented women, Alyssa Bridges is especially stoked to race a Continental GT in the program. A pro photographer/videographer for Sena, Bridges quips, “I basically get paid to ride motorcycles and play with cameras!” About the BTR program for both American race series, she confides, “This is certainly the opportunity of a lifetime, and we couldn’t be more grateful and excited to participate.”
We look forward to meeting a few of the fast gals this season at AFT and MotoAmerica races, for some interviews and photos. We know they’ll light up the tracks with their enthusiasm, their custom builds, and their speed.
For more on the “Build. Train. Race.” program, click here:
For more on Royal Enfield North America, click here:
For info on the American Flat Track series, click here:
For info on the MotoAmerica road racing series, click here:
*All photos by Royal Enfield.