This time we talk to Maxine Wahome from Kenya about her experience racing alongside boys, her dream for the future, and her tips for girls and women just starting out.
WHEEL SISTERS: Maxine, please introduce yourself.
Maxine: My full name is Maxine Wahome. I live in Nairobi, Kenya. I started riding at the age of 12 on an 85cc KTM bike and eventually I progressed to a 250cc bike. I have participated in both national and international races in Africa.
WHEEL SISTERS: Maxine, at the age of 24 you are a highly talented MX rider in Kenya and can look back to great successes. How did you get introduced to motorsport? Can you tell us your career path?
Maxine: I must say I’m very happy with how biking helped me to grow as an individual. I got introduced to motorsport through my family – my father Jimmy Wahome was a rally driver when I was young, my cousins also used to ride bikes as well. One day I asked my dad for a bike and he agreed – that was the beginning of my motocross career. I am currently joining rally and autocross, and I have participated in two events so far.
WHEEL SISTERS: Can you tell us your achievements so far?
● 2020-2wheel drive-turbo 4 th overall
● 2019 MX2: 4 TH Overall Kenya National Championship
● 2019 MX2 9 TH Overall FIM MX of African Nations championship (Zimbabwe)
● 2018 MX2: 3 RD Overall Kenya National Championship
● 2017MX2: Lady Rider of the year
● 2016MX2: 4 TH Kenya National Championship
● 2016MX LADIES: 3 rd FIM MX of African Nations Championship (Kenya)
● 2015MX 125: 5 TH Kenya National Championship
● 2014MX 125: 6 th Kenya National Championship
● 2014MX 125: Lady Rider of the year.
● 2014MX 125: Motorsports personality of the year – rose bowl award
● 2013MX 85: Lady Rider of the year.
WHEEL SISTERS: Why have you switched to rally and autocross? How did you manage the change from two to four wheels?
Maxine: I switched to rally and autocross because it has always been a dream of mine, even before I started motocross. Switching from two wheels to four wheels wasn’t so hard as I used to drive a manual car once in a while so learning how to drive was easy.
WHEEL SISTERS: With what challenges did you have to deal as a rally driver?
Maxine: There haven’t been many challenges yet as I only started recently, just small things like handbrake turns and left foot driving – other than that I’ll improve my times with experience.
WHEEL SISTERS: How difficult is it to be a woman in motorsport in Kenya? Which prejudices do you have to deal with?
Maxine: As a woman it was difficult racing with the boys as they are much stronger than me – I had to train harder and smarter. I stopped eating red meat and changed my whole diet to keep fit. I was at the track for practice at least three or four times a week, and at the gym five times a week. The first time I got to race with women was in 2016, as there are not many in Kenya to have a class that will score points. However, I saw that as an advantage as it made me a more aggressive rider.
WHEEL SISTERS: Have you experienced any sexism when racing, if so, how do you deal with it? Does it bother you?
Maxine: When I started motocross all the other women had dropped out of the sport so I was the only woman rider for around 2.5 years and there was a lot of sexism from outsiders who did not understand the sport, however, it did not bother me at all. It gave me more reason not to quit just to prove them all wrong and show them that not only men can do motorsports.
WHEEL SISTERS: How about injuries? Can you tell us about your worst injuries of your racing career? How was your way back to your strength?
Maxine: I have been very lucky with my injuries as I have never broken a single bone in my body. The worst injury I had was soft tissue which took four to five days to heal and then I was back on the bike.
WHEEL SISTERS: What was the most impressive moment of your career so far?
Maxine: Winning woman rider of the year and motorsports personality of the year (which includes all motorsports activities)
WHEEL SISTERS: Although there seem to be more women becoming involved in motorsports, why do you think there are still so few? In your opinion: What should be the next targets and projects to get more women into motorsport?
Maxine: In Kenya many people go with the culture that ladies should not do such sports. However, thinking about the future, I have always wanted to start a riding school for women just like Ashley Fiolek.
WHEEL SISTERS: What is important for girls who want to become mx riders in Kenya? What tips do you have for beginners?
Maxine: For beginner girls who would like to join motocross all I can say is that you should never feel pressured by anyone to do something you don’t want to do. Go at your own pace, set a target daily and slowly you will improve.
WHEEL SISTERS: Who are the people around you? Who gives you support?
Maxine: My parents, family, friends, and a few sponsors depending on the month and time of year.
WHEEL SISTERS: What is your education and your job?
Maxine: I am currently doing teaching, I teach 2-6 year olds in the Montessori system.
WHEEL SISTERS: How do you spend your free time?
Maxine: I hang out with friends, go for road trips and watch lots of movies.
WHEEL SISTERS: What does motorsport give you personally? How does it make you feel? What aspects of it do you love the most?
Maxine: Motorsport gives me joy and happiness, I just feel relaxed when I ride or drive. The adrenaline in my body makes me feel like I have no worries in life.
WHEEL SISTERS: What are your sporting goals in the upcoming months or years?
Maxine: To become best woman rally driver just like I did in motocross.