BTR Biker Legend – Jody Perewitz, the fastest woman on two wheels
This issue in Biker Legends we focus on Jody Perewitz, the fastest woman on two wheels and daughter to world renowned custom bike builder and the “father of flames” Dave Perewitz. Jody grew up around motorcycles and bikers, hanging out at Dave’s shop in Brockton, Massachusetts. She currently runs the marketing side of the business at Cycle Fab. She is also a bike builder in her own right and is one hell of a racer. Jody currently holds sixteen Land Speed records, one of which is a World Record. She is the fastest woman to ever ride an American V-twin-powered motorcycle over 200 miles per hour on the Bonneville Salt Flats. She has earned four AMA number one plates.
Jody is also a racer each year at Billy’s Lane’s Sons of Speed antique races at the New Smyrna Beach raceway during March Bike Week in Daytona Beach, Florida. Sons of Speed is a motorcycle race inspired by early 20th-century board-track racing, featuring stripped-down bikes with pre-1925 American V-twin engines tearing around a steeply banked, racetrack.
Back in the 1930s over 300 motorcycles companies had sprouted up in the world, including over 100 American motorcycle marquees. After World War II there were only three left; Harley-Davidson, Indian, and Excelsior-Henderson. But today, some of those venerable old motors live on.
The Sons of Speed vintage races began a decade ago and make a home at the New Smyrna Speedway’s half mile track. These races offer thrilling, wide-open motorcycle racing at its best. We’re talkin’ about race bikes with no brakes, no clutches, and a deadman’s switch.
We asked Jody to tell us about a close call she had while racing at Sons of Speed in 2018. “Well, I had three bikes I was racing that year. I was in the Hot 61-inch Class, the Classic 61 Class, and the 45-inch Class. During practice, I was literally jumping off one bike and getting on another. My Hot 61 bike was a 1919 Harley and it blew a valve in practice. So that one was out. And we were having issues with the 45 WR because the oil pump was going. So my one shot was the 1920 Indian PowerPlus I was running in the Classic 61 Class.”
“My team pushed the bike to start me. I got it around turn one and I heard a big pop, then something hit my leg. I looked down and saw the cap that goes over the valves to adjust them, had blown off! I’m like, what the heck, because I had won my heat race with the Indian and knew I was going to be a contender. Then when the valve cap blew off, it was like the cap hit me in the chest! I was so bummed. I was literally almost in tears I was so mad. We just couldn’t catch a break that day.”
Jody limped the Indian to the side of the track and waited… defeated. Suddenly, her boyfriend ran up with the valve cap in his hand. “So I steered the powerless bike to the side of the track and sat there. The pace bike caught up to me and they all went by. And out of nowhere, my boyfriend Guy Lafleur came running with the cap in his hand. As he’s yelling for me to move my leg, he’s tossing the cap from hand to hand because it was so hot! One of the other guys on our team, Jeremy Ohr, came running with these big pliers so he could tighten it. And this all happened within a matter of minutes. They got it on and shouted, ‘We’re going to push you!’ The bike started right up. I caught up to the pack as they were waving the green flag.”
Jody was back in the race. “If it had been like 30 seconds later, I wouldn’t have been able to do it. But I caught up with the pack and passed them one by one, including two-time sons of Speed winner Ken Curtis.”
Jody took the victory and sealed the first win for an Indian at Sons of Speed, etching her name in yet another record book. Never one to rest on her laurels, Jody Perewitz is about to set out on the Motorcycle Cannonball antique race from Michigan to Texas. In 2018 she, along with two other women riders, became the first females to complete all the miles. She then tried her hand at the Cross Country Chase in September 2019 also making all the miles. For the 2020 Motorcycle Cannonball she will be riding a 1912 Harley-Davidson Single.
You can see why we chose Jody Perewitz as this issue’s Biker Legend here in Born To Ride.
Images: Jody Perewitz