This week we interview Peggy Llewellyn, NHRA Pro-Stock Motorcycle Drag Racer, of Jamaican and Mexican descent. She is the first black woman to win a professional motorsports event, racing at the NHRA POWERade event (Dallas) in 2007 and earning an appearance in the inaugural Countdown to 4 and Countdown to 1, finishing in the POWERade top five standings where she recorded her post-career-best time and speed. She is committed to encouraging our youth to be their own individuals, not putting limitations on what they can achieve, so they don’t fall victim to drug or alcohol abuse, or child abuse, teen-age pregnancy, joining a gang or other issues that plague our youth.
How are you connected to Jamaica?
My father was born and raised in Kingston. He still has his home there. Except for an aunt in North Carolina and an uncle in Canada, my father’s family still lives in Kingston.
Being of Mexican Heritage and Jamaican Heritage you have some insight in the cultural similarities. What do you think the 2 cultures have in common?
The food is definitely similar in both cultures. (Laughing) You can’t call either culture’s dishes bland, both Mexican and Jamaican cultures love spices. Food is important in both cultures because it is a way to bring the family together. Enjoying cooking together, gathering at the table catching up with each other represents quality time. So family is very important to both cultures as well.
How did you get started in racing motor bikes? What was your first experience like doing it as a professional?
My father owns a motorcycle repair shop here in San Antonio, so I have been around motorcycles all my life and riding since I was 7 years old. My first bike was a Dandy pocket rocket that went 30mph.
After watching 3 women attempt to qualify in the NHRA in 1996 I knew that was the career I wanted to have. My first experience racing in the NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) might not been successful in terms of winning (I didn’t qualify Houston 2001) but I had accomplished my goal of getting the chance to compete at that level and experience everything that came with being a professional drag racer.
Did you ever try auto racing?
Although, I have never raced a car, I wouldn’t rule it out. Right now my heart is set on winning races and championships on a pro stock motorcycle.
What it is model bike you ride and the specifications?
At the present, I race a Harley-Davidson Buell V-twin 160 cu. Inch.
What does it feel like to go so fast on a motor bike?
When you are going 190+mph and covering the quarter mile in 6.92 seconds it feels smooth. You don’t realize you are going that fast because you are tucked under the fairing, keeping your eye on your target and shifting the bike on time.
You have massed quite a few accolades in a very short time. Which one are you most proudest?
Oooooh, that would be an easy one; my FIRST win Dallas 2007 (smiling) When I started out the season it was with a new team on a new bike, it had been 5 years since I had raced. I wasn’t expected to even make into the top 10. We flew underneath the radar so to speak. At that particular event, I was up against the 3-time World Champion who had beaten me twice before. He had a faster elasped time, but I had a better reaction time and got the win! I finished #4 in the national rankings that season. Believe me I am not done yet! I am hoping to repeat it over and over again.
Can you tell us about the different circuits you race in. What is the difference between drag motor bike racing and the other circuit?
The only circuit I have raced in has been the NHRA. It’s quarter mile drag racing. The only difference in other sanctions is in NHRA you must have a competitions license, a valid driver’s license, and it is the professional level. The other sanctions just require a motorcycle license and are not classified as professional.
Tell us about Divas For A Cure?
DFAC is a Foundation I am proud to endorse. It takes my two passions motorcycles and community service to raise awareness of breast cancer in the Black and Latina communities. We have a higher rate of death from breast cancer because we are not informed. My goal is encourage breast examinations and spread the word of early detection. With the efforts of DFAC, we can beat this disease.
If you were not doing this what would you be doing?
I would do something in real estate, there are different areas of the real estate industry, such as property management, accounting, residential, and so on, and I got to experience a little in every area. So that is what I would do if I were not drag racing. And, actually still dabble a little bit.
What is the last good movie you saw?
“Despicable Me” I am on the road a lot, so any downtime I have I spend with my niece, Dayzha. Going to the movies is something we enjoy doing.
If you were on a desert island and could take 1 person and 1 book…You would take….
Hmmm…..I wouldn’t take anyone and I would take a bottle of wine and a Terry McMillan book! (Laughing) Between the reading and enjoying the peace of the water, that bottle of wine would hit the spot. (Laughing)
Thanks for your time. Any closing thoughts?
One of my fave quotes is from Walt Disney, who said “All dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” I did pursue my goal of racing professionally and I still have a lot of goals that I want to accomplish, but most importantly is to leave a legacy. Don’t be afraid to follow your dreams!