Stefy Bau’s “211 International MX Camps,” are helping to change the face of motocross around the globe, one female at a time. Sounds like a lofty feat, but for this two-time fomer American and World Women MX champion, empowering others has become her life’s ambition.
Since age six, Stefy Bau has been taking the motocross world by storm, breaking barriers no other female had accomplished in her time. Throughout the 80s, she was the first girl to enter and win a children’s amateur regional and then national male motocross championship in Italy, her birthplace. By age 20, she was also now the first woman to compete against males, winning the amateur national motocross championship. In 1999, she captured both the Women’s National and Women’s World MX Championships. But it wasn’t until she became an AMA pro in 2000 (the first female to hold that title until 2004), and was assigned the number '211,' that marketing opportunities began to open...opportunities, which until then, had never been achieved by a female in an extreme sport.
Stefy’s “211” moniker was splashed all over the MX scene, reaching the pinnacle of stardom by getting her own character immortalized in two Play Station videogames, Supercross 2000 and Freekstyle. A replica/signature helmet soon followed and was sold worldwide; and Stefy could be seen and heard worldwide in TV programs, newspapers and magazines.
The notoriety enabled Stefy to give back to her community by mentoring other young female riders (Ashley Fiolek ring a bell?) to help them realize their own MX dream. But when a career-ending injury placed Stefy on the sidelines, it was her gift to motivate and inspire others that would ultimately shape the next chapter of her livelihood.
I caught up with this racing legend in Texas, where she was holding one of her two-day MX camps. Stefy’s enthusiasm and her compassion to teach were evident. It was also evident that these female athletes—some as young as ten— were serious about taking their motocross skills to the next level. Luckily they had come to the right place.
HH) You’ve enjoyed an amazing career as an MX fem phenom, achieving revolutionary feats for womankind. Now you’ve translated that winning talent into empowering other females to achieve their own MX dream through a new endeavor: The International “211MX Camps.” What motivates and moves you to inspire others?
Stefy) Motocross shaped my life and gave me the possibility to travel the world, learn new cultures and meet incredible people around the world, while doing something that I absolutely love. When an athlete comes to our school, we strive to share this same ambition.
HH) Aside from being trained by one of the greatest female motocross competitors on the planet, the 211 MX camp is also unique in part because you travel around the globe to offer racing opportunities to other women, thus opening up gender-role dialogue to cultures that are not accustomed to this idea. Do you think the camp has altered, or maybe changed the perception of women competing on the track in countries that are less than enthused with this new reality?
Stefy) I worked very hard to established myself as a link for female riders around the world and the 211 MX School just gives me another outlet to be able to reach out to those athletes. Even though the culture may be different depending on the country that we go to, the ambition and the desire of empowering women is still the same. I’m happy to have inspired so many other girl/women around the world to take up motocross and eventually turn it into a career. Coming from Italy I related to all of them. When I travel abroad I focus on their reality but I also show them that there is so much more out there and that you should always follow your dreams. Sometimes society puts up barriers but women are strong and for some reason, if they like motocross, they tend to find me... and I’m there if to help them achieve their dreams!
HH) You’ve mentored new MX stars, including Ashley Fiolek, who has also done her share to help catapult the sport into more mainstream audiences; specifically, those found at the X Games. Do you think this increased exposure will equate into more female athletes entering into this extreme sport - or perhaps just as important – capture a new fan base of female spectators?
Stefy) I am sure that the work that as been put down from the riders before me, to me and now to Ashley and the other professional women racers is helping grow the sport. Because of this work and the mainstream appeal that we are reaching women from counties you wouldn’t expect are picking up motocross and following their dreams. It’s a big project and the success comes from everyone involved, the riders, the teams, the people behind the scene, the dedicated women training school and the Women’s Commission inside the FIM (CFM). We are all focusing on the same goal and every year more and more women are approaching the motorcycling world.
HH) Many know you for your pioneering mark in motocross, but most might not realize you have also been an athlete in other extreme sports including road racing, snowboarding and your latest adventure entails an extreme mountain bike race of epic proportions. What does it take to prepare for such a grueling project given the added challenge of a past injury to overcome? What is your secret power, Stefy?
Stefy) I don’t know if I have a secret power but I do know that I take the “never give up attitude” and the belief that “you can reach anything you want you if put your mind to it”, to the T! I just find this willingness inside me that wants to show the world that you can be unstoppable, of course respecting others and live in sync with the world. I feel lucky that I got to travel the world a lot and I was able to meet enough people that confirmed my theory of living life. Always shoot for the stars, no matter if you were born in the desert or within a mansion, it may take you a lot longer that the privileged ones but if you have it in yourself you can do amazing things in life. Believe in yourself, that is what I love to teach to all my athletes.
As far as the MTB race, it is just, once again, the willing of never wanting to give up. I had a career ending injury in MX and the docs wanted to amputate both of my lower legs. I couldn’t accept that and so I’m showing the world that with the will power you can change things. Still nowadays, the docs tell me that I shouldn’t be able to walk, and me on the other end, I pick up the challenge of racing an extreme mountain bike event!!