Since her debut as a professional motorcycle racer in 2012, Patricia Fernandez has tallied up quite a list of accomplishments. In addition to competing in the MotoAmerica series and at numerous international roadracing events, she's also made time to become an accomplished fitness model. But perhaps the most impressive feat thus far has been capturing the title of World's Fastest Female Roadracer. [Technically she's the World's Fastest Female Motorcycle Racer On A Street Circuit, as recognized by the organizers of the Ulster Grand Prix.] She's scary fast to be sure, but I managed to catch up with the 32-year-old Tulsa, Oklahoma, native just long enough to discuss banana seats, chainsaws, and exactly what it feels like to race a motorcycle at speeds of up to 200 mph down country roads in Northern Ireland at the Ulster Grand Prix.

Congratulations on your new lap record. I know that you already hold the lap record as World’s Fastest Female Motorcycle Racer [on a street circuit], but you must be pretty stoked with 121.130 mph average lap speed. When did you first break the record?

Thanks! 2016 was the first year that I broke the (lap) record. Maria Costello had the previous record with 117 mph on a 1000. I raised the bar to 118.2 on my 600 and have beaten my own record ever since. The last two years on the big bike—119.6 mph in 2017 and 121.1 this year.

Patricia Fernandez
Patricia Fernandez: World’s Fastest Female RoadracerRory Anson

You broke 121 mph on the Kawasaki 1000. In addition to the big bike, you compete in the Supersport (600) class. Do you have a preference between the two?

It’s two totally different riding styles. I used to be more comfortable on the 600 because I rode it more often. But in the last year I’ve spent more time on the 1000, so I’ve adapted my style to it. Now I’m more comfortable on the big bike than I am on the little bike. I don’t know if you ever get used to the toll that it takes on your body, but it’s a lot of fun.

I know that the Ulster Grand Prix is a favorite among riders on the Irish racing circuit, but what makes it special for you?

It was my first roadrace, so there’s definitely a soft spot there. It’s really fast, and it’s really flowy, and they do as much as they can to keep it safe. Deer’s Leap is pretty awesome because you get some great wheelie shots coming down there. Like I said, it was my first race so I’m a little sentimental about it, but it’s always amazing to see the fans and the other racers. It’s like going to a family dinner every year at Thanksgiving or something; I really enjoy myself.

You’ve competed in the MotoAmerica series as well, so how would you compare circuit racing to roadracing?

Night and day. Totally different. It doesn’t matter if you’re a really good circuit racer; that doesn’t mean you’re a good roadracer and vice versa. There are very few people…like Peter Hickman is one of the few anomalies who can do both. But you take Michael Dunlop or one of those top guys and you put ’em in BSB [British Superbike], they’re finishing 15th and even further back. And if you take the BSB guys and put them in a roadrace, they can’t finish. They can’t wrap their head around it. You have to understand that there is zero room for error; it’s a different style.

For me, doing roadracing was more for fun and the experience of doing it. I was like, okay, I’m gonna take my time and I’m gonna learn. I’m not gonna push, and I’m not gonna do anything dangerous… Well (laughs), anything too dangerous. That’s why every year I’ve consistently gotten faster. I feel like I’ve been building myself up to be able to come home and tell the story about it. You don’t really think about any of that kind of stuff when you go circuit racing, you just go flat out from lap one. You can run off and pick your bike up and keep going. Depending on what kind of crash you have, it’s not necessarily a big deal. But if you go off at all on a road course, you can’t just pick your bike up and come back on.

Patricia Fernandez
Patricia Fernandez finds finds more joy on road circuits than on tracks.Shaun Lewis

Backtracking a little bit, how did you get involved in riding motorcycles in the first place, and how did that transform into racing?

I just thought bikes were cool, I always liked them. No one in my family rode, no one was a racer or anything. My parents told me that if I wanted a motorcycle, I’d have to move out of the house and buy it myself. So when I was 18 I moved out and I got a loan for a little used Suzuki GS500F with a banana seat. I would take that and commute back and forth to school, I thought it was the coolest thing in the whole world. I rode that for a little while and then ended up getting an R6. Some of my friends were doing trackdays and they were trying to get me to do it, but I couldn’t really afford it. So I saved up all winter one year and bought a set of leathers and some boots on eBay. April 10, 2010, was my first track day at Summit Point, West Virginia. I just loved it. It was awesome, and addicting. So just I kept doing track days and then friends were like, you should think about racing. So I did some club racing and I did really well. I went expert and just kept racing. Then people were like, you should try and qualify for a pro event; I thought there’s no way I’d ever qualify for a pro event. And actually the six-year anniversary is coming up, Jersey in September 2012 was my first-ever pro race.

I never thought I’d be a racer. I never thought I’d be doing international events and all this other stuff, but I found something that I liked and enjoyed and kept doing it. Opportunities came and I just kept chasing it and going with it, and it’s worked out to be pretty awesome.

Any aspirations for the Isle of Man TT or MotoGP?

I’ve been in contact and started a conversation for the Isle of Man TT with Paul Phillips, the organizer, but nothing official on the books. We’ve been communicating since the Ulster, but it’s a big sacrifice. I’ll have to go out and do a week of training in January, a week of training in March, and a month in May and June. So it’s a really big commitment to be able to go over there and do all of that. It’ll kind of depend on sponsorship if I can pull that together. It’s hard to get mechanics and other people to commit a month of their time. So we’ll see. I definitely have aspirations for Macau—no female has ever raced there.

Ulster
On the grid at Ulster.Rory Anson

Having never gone 200 mph on a motorcycle, I wonder if you can describe the feeling?

The best way I can describe it is it’s like you’re on a roller coaster and you’re going up. To me, that’s like being on the grid. You hear click, click, click, click, and think, oh man, it’s coming. Just let me go. I feel like the anticipation is even worse. And then right when you get to the top you’re like, oh s—t, oh s—t, and you’re terrified because it’s about to drop and you start screaming, but then you start smiling. It’s kinda like that every single turn. The whole world stops. You live everything one corner at a time. Not even the corner, you set up the corner, midcorner, exit of the corner.

When I watch videos, it’s so crazy because you watch the riders just flow through the turns, but when you’re on the bike everything feels slow because you gotta get your body over, get your shift done, do your braking. I feel like I’m doing a whole bunch of things, and when you watch it on TV it just looks so smooth. On the the bike it’s just hammer down. You’re not worried about bills, or making appointments, or anything. You’re just really living life. When it gets really fast, or it gets really nitty-gritty on the bike, I tell everyone it’s like you have a smile under your helmet but you’re puckered. It’s exhilarating, and amazing, and awesome, and terrifying, and scary, and you push yourself, and you push your limits, and you don’t know if you’re gonna make it, and then holy crap you made it. And you’re like, woo-hoo. It’s a sensation that I’ve never been able to duplicate off of a motorcycle.

As the World’s Fastest Female Motorcycle Racer, what advice would you give to other aspiring female motorcycle racers?

Just be smart, don’t have an ego. Your ego is not your amigo. Especially when it comes to roadracing. Circuit racing is definitely a great way to develop your skills, and help keep them up. Obviously roadracing isn’t something that you do everyday, it’s a lot different. You’ve got to be smart about racing on the roads. You’ve got to want to do it for fun, and you want to be able to come back and tell the story. If you get in over your head or you allow your ego to take over, there are serious consequences. I’m not saying don’t be competitive and push yourself, but learn it and be smart about it and live to race again. You can’t become a better racer if you don’t get to come home and work on it.”

My 15-year-old son follows you on Instagram and I’m not entirely convinced that he’s aware that you ride a motorcycle. Tell me about the hashtag #myboyfriendplayswithchainsaws.

Hahahaha. That’s a good one! My boyfriend is Cory West, who is also a pro motorcycle racer. He’s competing in the MotoAmerica Supersport season right now. When he’s not racing he works for the IMBA (International Mountain Bicycling Association). Part of that job includes trail maintenance, so when trees have fallen on the trail they have to go out there with chain saws and clear it. He just enjoys playing with the chain saws and he loves chopping down trees. A lot of time I put that up when I post any of my modeling photos. I try to remind followers that just because I’m a female it does not mean that I’m looking for other male attention. I’m in a relationship, and my boyfriend races motorcycles and he plays with chainsaws. I figure the more scary I make him seem, the less likely they are to DM me.

Fernandez shoots for Isle of Man TT
Fernandez hopes to get to the Isle of Man TT.Shaun Lewis

Finally, what’s on tap for 2019?

I’m trying to work out some details to hopefully get to the TT. I’m looking for some sponsorship for that, and I have a Superbike here that I’m going to keep racing. At the moment I have club races planned. It’s difficult to roadrace and do MotoAmerica because most of the races conflict; I’d miss half the season just doing the Ulster and the TT. I may possibly wild card one or two rounds with MotoAmerica for Superbike…maybe. But we don’t really know until the schedule’s released.