There’s little Angelle Sampey hasn’t done in NHRA’s Pro Stock Motorcycle class.
She has won world championships – 2000-2002 and collected 42 national event wins.
Sampey had never competed on a Harley-Davidson – until this season – when she joined the vaunted Vance & Hines team.
And she acknowledged it has been a learning curve for her. Sampey arrived at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis ninth in the points. Sampey’s Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson teammates – Andrew Hines and Eddie Krawiec, are first and second in season points.
Sampey received a much-needed boost when she rocketed up the qualifying ladder with a 6.816-second elapsed time at 195.53 mph.
“I’ve been focusing real hard on being still on the motorcycle and keeping my shoulders still and leaving better because I can get the beginning of the run to start right, then the middle and the end will come along the way they are supposed. I’m trying really hard to do that and I’ve done a better job of that.”
If Sampey holds the No. 1 qualifying spot it will be here 50th career No. 1 qualifying position.
“That would be fantastic (to get No. 50), especially with the Harley-Davidson team,” Sampey said. “I’m trying so hard to make them happy being that gave me this opportunity and put me on this motorcycle. I feel like I haven’t come even close to doing that with the way I have been performing. If I could have a great outing this weekend, whether it is winning or just a No. 1 qualifier it would be something to give me the confidence to know that at least I’m giving something back to them and figures crossed that they will let me do this again next year.”
Sampey said there have also been changes to her motorcycle to try and get her up to par with Hines’ and Krawiec’s Harleys.
“Andrew took everything he could, including his engine out of his motorcycle and put it onto mine,” Sampey said. “Then, he took everything off of mine and put it on his because he said he wanted to be able to feel and hear and see and do everything he can to see why mine was a little bit behind his and Eddie’s. The reason he had to do that is that I’m still overwhelmed with driving the motorcycle that I haven’t got to the point where I need to be to being able to explain to him what I’m feeling so he can know what to change. Now that he has everything on his bike and he can feel it himself and he’s figuring it out as you can see, because he’s right behind me. I’m really loving the parts he put on my motorcycle and I hope he lets me keep them, but I’m sure he won’t.”
Hines is third on the qualifying ladder 6.823-second ET at 195,87 mph. Krawiec is fifth at 6.878 second at 194.72 mph.
“I knew it was going straight and that was all that mattered to me,” Sampey said. “I started screaming in my helmet, ‘I went straight. I went straight. I went straight. I was so excited I was waving at the TV camera. I didn’t even know that it was a great ET. So, when (NHRA’s) Lewis Bloom had a poker face at the end of the track and called me over and handed the time slip to me I got so excited. I knew it was a good run. I knew it was better than what I had done, but I didn’t know it was going to be good enough for No. 1.”
After a season of struggling adjusting to driving a Harley, Sampey was relieved with the numbers she put on the scoreboard Saturday evening.
“It’s still early, of course I have to race on Monday,” Sampey said. “It doesn’t matter what spot you go in at, you have to win. It was definitely a confidence boost I needed because I have been struggling mentally and somewhat physically on the motorcycle. I’m so little and the motorcycle takes so much more strength than I have or even more weight than I have.
We were making jokes that I actually gained a few pounds from the last race to this one and they took a couple of pounds off the bike and I did a better job. All day long they’ve been trying to feed me cookies and very fattening things. I told them that if this keeps working then the next race I will have gained several pounds.”
Sampey said driving a Harley-Davidson is a lot harder than it looks.
“It is the most difficult thing I have ever done,” she said. “I thought for sure that I was going to step onto this motorcycle and change the world because it was a Harley-Davidson. I thought all I needed was to be on a Harley-Davidson. It has definitely shown me how good Andrew and Eddie are because it is the toughest motorcycle to drive out of everyone I have ever ridden and I have ridden all of them. Thumbs up, hats off to Andrew and Eddie because they made it look easy and it is not. It is just a heavy motorcycle, the torque is so different. It pulls from the bottom to the top of the gear and if you don’t get it right from the very beginning, you’re struggling at the top end. I’m learning that it is an awesome motorcycle. It has awesome power, but you have to absolutely be a good driver. I have the best two ahead of me to watch, especially Andrew; he just seems to be flawless.”
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) January 4, 2019