Believe it or not, Elena Myers actually was more nervous when she took her driver's license test than when she first got on a motorcycle as an 8-year-old.
"I guess when you're younger, you don't have that fear," Myers said.
Even though the 19-year-old Myers is still considered a teenager by chronological age, the longtime Discovery Bay resident is a veteran on the motorcycle. The 5-foot-3, 115-pound Myers will be competing at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix AMA Pro GoPro Daytona Sportbike race on Sunday.
"I've been racing at Laguna for 10 years now, and it's always had a special place in my heart," said Myers, who enters Sunday's race 14th in the AMA Pro GoPro Daytona Sportbike series standings. "It's my favorite track on the schedule because of the layout and how prestigious the track is."
Myers races for the Castrol/Triumph/Apex Manufacturing team on a Triumph Daytona 675 bike. Myers would probably be in the top 10 in the series standings, but she had to miss a couple of races after breaking her collarbone in a riding accident on June 21.
A determined Myers was out for only three weeks before she got back on the bike, finishing 15th at the Buckeye SuperBike Weekend on July 14.
"It wasn't the result I wanted, but nonetheless it was a decent finish under the circumstances," Myers said. "My bike has some more improving to do [performance-wise], and so do I as a rider."
As one of only two women who compete full time in the Sportbike series, Myers has shattered barriers, set records and become a role model in the process. Three years ago, Myers became the first female to win an AMA road race, and last year she became the first female ever to win a race of any kind at Daytona International Speedway.
"Obviously I race because I love to race, and all the other things that come after that are a bonus," Myers said. "It's really cool when a college graduate comes up to you and says they want my job, or when a parent tells me they've named their child after me."
From the moment she won her first race at 8, Myers has displayed a maturity and perspective belying her age. Two years later, Myers hit full throttle.
"It was one winter when everything clicked," she said. "The light bulb went off, and I'm not quite sure why it happened. It was a practice run, and suddenly I got a load of confidence. I've had it ever since."