Photo Credit: Polaris
How Motorsports Is Becoming More Black, Female, And Family Friendly In So-Cal
Ahead of International Female Ride Day, which takes place on May 1, 2021, I got the opportunity to embark on a scenic ride in a Polaris Slingshot along the coast of Southern California. International Female Ride Day is a day where female motorsports enthusiasts around the world get together to “Just Ride!”
It was my first time in a Slingshot. I didn’t have many expectations prior to going into the experience. The only thing I expected was speed –– lots of speed! And while the speed did not disappoint, what I was pleasantly surprised to find out was how Black, female, and family-friendly Slingshot culture really is.
My experience began with Porsche Taylor, cross-country rider and founder of Black Girls Ride Magazine. She owns a bike and two Slingshots, my favorite being the eye-catching black and pink ride with the magazine’s logo on the hood.
It was a pleasure to finally meet Porsche in person. Last year, Travel Noire profiled her as one of the twelve women to join Polaris’s Empowersports Women’s Riding Council. At the time, she had recently embarked on a 3,000-mile cross-country trip from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. to speak at the March on Washington. Much like Porsche’s bike, her Slingshot has taken her around the country as well. Because the Polaris Slingshot is lightweight, good on gas, and considered an autocycle (hybrid between a car and a motorcycle), you get the best of both worlds. –– the open-air feeling and freedom of a motorcycle with the ease of use that comes with driving a traditional car.
Our ride started at Huntington Beach before heading to Temecula, CA to meet up with more SoCal-based Slingshot enthusiasts, the Cali Slingers. There, we met by over a dozen riders and their loved ones about what Slingshot culture meant to them.
Tosha Davis is the founder of Cali Slingers, a crew of Slingshot owners who have formed a familial bond through riding together. The movement started with about 4-5 Slingshot owners in 2015, who would come together and do oil changes as a group. They then began riding together and before they knew it, five riders became 90+ members. The Cali Slingers are a very diverse crew, all people from all walks of life are welcome. You can find people of various backgrounds, cultures, and ages within the group. One thing they all have in common is their love for their Slingshot and the bonds they’ve formed
“What we’ve strived our hardest to do is create a family atmosphere,” says member Kenneth Allan Cole who explained how the crew gets together for everything from BBQs to funerals.
“What differentiates Slingshot clubs from motorcycle and car clubs, in my own personal opinion, is that we’re a lot more open and friendly,” says Tosha. “Here, we’re family. We let everybody in. We let cars, three-wheelers, and two-wheelers ride with us. If you want to come, have fun, and enjoy a family atmosphere, Slingshots are the way to go.”
The word family got used a lot, and for good reason. One of the main differences between riding in a Slingshot versus a motorcycle is that the person you are riding with is directly next to you, not behind you. This makes for a more personal experience and allows you to share it with friends, family, or loved ones of any age.
Amongst the Cali Slingers, I was surprised to find so many Black women participants. When you think of motorsports culture, you’d be right to assume that it’s a male-dominated activity. However, women are a growing demographic amongst Slingshot owners for a multitude of reasons, whether it’s the love for speed, fresh air, and meditation on the road, or the ease of customizing the Polaris Slingshot and making it your own.
Slingshots tend to cause a spectacle (in a good way) anywhere they go. Customization plays a huge part in that. For Polaris Slingshot owners, their ride is an extension of their personality. They trick out and customize their vehicle in themes that are important to them. While on my ride with the Cali Slingers, I saw vehicles wrapped in a multitude of colors, with an endless variety of sound and light kits. Whatever theme you could imagine, you could bring to life, and that’s true for owners outside California as well. Every location has their own spin on customization, some more elaborate (and expensive) than others.
Overall, I spent about six hours enjoying the open road, doing things that I originally would have never thought Black girls would be into. It was an awesome experience to see so many people who looked like me participating in non-traditional activities. It was even more awesome that we were able to do it together.