By Joe Morey News Editor
Despite a recent crash, LCO Tribal Member Kim LaRonge is still driven to be the best in her class of sidecar racing. Nearing 50-years old, she won’t let her age or injuries from the crash, as well as cancer remission slow her down and she is determined to continue reaching speeds over 100 miles an hour in the Sidecar Racers Association series.
LaRonge went before the LCO Tribal Governing Board (TGB) on Monday, April 15, to thank the council for their support of her ambition to be one of the top racers in America. She currently races with her daughter, Arden Phelen, in the Novice division.
Two weeks ago, LaRonge crashed at the Carolina Motorsports track which left her with a number of minor injuries but she said she is already training for New Jersey at the end of May. Her bike is fully repaired.
LaRonge told the TGB that she is close to getting her sidecar racing credentials, which is where the money is. She thanked them for their financial support and asked for them to continue with that support as she prepared for New Jersey.
“I’m not going to crash anymore,” LaRonge said. “It hurts and I can’t afford it.”
LaRonge explained how it was by accident that she discovered her love for sidecar racing. She was in recovery from cancer two years ago and entered a 4x4 race which she took 2nd place.
“I realized I was really good at it so I pushed myself,” LaRonge stated. “The Creator blessed me with a second chance at life and now I am doing these exciting things. I decided to be the woman I am today and to stay positive. I want to be a good influence and show that what I can do, anyone can do.”
LaRonge and her daughter are the only women in the league. Her coach and mentor, Rick Richter, owner of R3 Racing in Hayward, said she is in a men’s league.
“She’s come a long way. She did crash at the last event and that made her a racer. She’s learned from it,” Richter said. “She’s earned the admiration of the entire racing organization. It doesn’t matter race or sex on the track, you’re a racer. The Association is really proud of her.”
Richter said he is proud of her and happy to support her. He added that LaRonge was in the top 5 in her division prior to her crash.
LaRonge said her racing is an all-family adventure. They travel together. They train together and race together. She said that she both drives and rides as the “monkey” but mostly, she will drive and her daughter will ride in the sidecar.
“I really wanted to understand weight distribution before I put my only daughter in the sidecar,” LaRonge explained.
LaRonge told how she really wanted to be a racer but didn’t have the money. She said without the tribe’s support and the help of Rick Richter from R3 Racing, she couldn’t have made it happen.
“I got this bike out of a garage that hadn’t been run in 30 years and I did the restoration myself but with access to tools at R3 Racing,” LaRonge noted. She races a 1975 Suzuki G2 185, and races in the Novice Lightweight division where all the racers are beginners.
LCO Vice Chairman Jason Schlender said it is always an honor for our tribe to support our citizens in their endeavors.