In our quest to find and celebrate remarkable women doing remarkable things in their 50s and beyond, we discovered a former marketing executive who shot from a desk job to a racy profession setting motorcycle speed records.
“Life is about the journey, not the destination. If you can remember that, you’ll have no regrets.”
Who: Erin Sills - Landspeed Racer
What she doesn’t bring up in a conversation about her unless you ask: I’m in the Guinness World Records book for three different motorcycle speed records.
How that happened: I began racing with my late husband, Andy, as a passion and a hobby while I was still working in the corporate world. Then four years ago I decided to retire from corporate to begin serving the motorcycle industry fulltime on various boards and to encourage other women to get into racing. Turns out I’m not very good at retiring. An opportunity arose for me to become co-chairwoman of the website womenridersnow.com, with a social media reach of about 313,000 (including 24,000 email subscribers who get monthly newsletter). We offer useful resources for women who ride and the people who might ride with them—and also offer tips about how to do research if you’re thinking of riding, interesting places to travel, and relevant reading.
What’s the fastest she’s ever ridden: In Bolivia last July with my team (HunterSills Racing Team) I hit 242 mph. But I plan to go faster.
Almost 250 mph! On a motorcycle! Why she takes the risk: I guess I may be predisposed to like speed, as my dad loved fast cars. One of the great things about land speed motorcycling is that men and women compete equally against each other. This coming July I hope my team will be one of six of the fastest motorcycle teams in the world competing at the Bolivian Uyuni salt flats. One team will be attempting to go 300, another will aim for 400 mph. We race in different categories.
photo credit M.Kinderris Photography
Her biggest accomplishment: Continuing to ride and race after Andy’s death. Off-road adventure riding, being a motorcycle coach, and finding ways to serve the community became a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
A few of her favorite rides: Well, when I’m racing, it’s the fastest I can go. But one I loved was The Sisters Centennial Ride, a celebration of the two Van Buren sisters who rode across the US in 1916 (and were arrested for, among other things, wearing pants). They went on unpaved roads, got lost in the desert, climbed Pikes Peak, all to bring awareness about women’s ability to serve as couriers in World War I. This summer I’m supposed to fly to Bhutan with a group (www.rallyforrangers.com), meet around 15 other riders and then ride into the harder-to-reach regions of the country to hand my bike and keys over to a park ranger. I’ll teach him or her to ride so he or she can be more effective protecting their domain.
A few of her favorite bikes: Like many passionate riders I have a collection; mine are all BMWs. My daily rider is an adventure touring bike and my race bikes are all BMW S1000RR’s, the most powerful, sportiest, most nimble track style bike, built for racing. I have a couple others I love too much to part with. None of them are in my living room. Yet.
Her goals for the future: I want to continue to serve women riders in better ways, like increasing their awareness about health and wellness issues.
Best advice: Life is about the journey, not the destination. If you can remember that, you’ll have no regrets.