AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame | Where Heroes Live On
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Mary McGee


Among the first women to race motorcycles in U.S. motocross and road racing
Public speaker and mentor to motorcyclists

Mary McGee is a pioneering female motorcyclist, who was among the first women to race motorcycles in motocross and road racing events in the United States.

The 82-year-old from Gardnerville, Nev., was introduced to auto racing by her husband, Don, in the 1950s.

McGee learned to ride motorcycles in 1957 on a 200cc Triumph Tiger Cub she bought from a friend and later took up motorcycle road racing to try to improve her car racing skills.

The American Federation of Motorcyclists made her take a test before allowing her to race. She passed and became the first woman to hold and FIM license in the United States.

Switching to dirt riding in 1963, McGee started her off-road career by riding a 250cc 1962 Honda Scrambler in an AMA District 37 enduro. She started riding Baja events in 1967 and, in 1975, McGee rode the Baja 500 solo.

Also during the 1970s, McGee worked for Motorcyclist magazine and joined editors Jody Nichols, Brad Zimmerman and Rich Cox for a 24-hour road race in Las Vegas, in which the team changed riders every hour on a 650cc Suzuki.

McGee said her most memorable accomplishment was riding the 1975 Baja 500 solo on a 205cc Husqvarna and finished ahead of several two-man teams.

"I did it," she said. "I finished. I think I was 17th."

Health issues forced McGee to stop riding and competing for a few years in the mid-2000s. But she was back on a bike in 2010 and returned to competition in 2011 the AHRMA Nationals in Phoenix.

She said her last trail ride was in 2017, but she remains active in motorcycling.

"When I got the call notifying me I was going to be in the Hall of Fame, I thought, 'Oh, my, this is unreal,'" McGee said. "I couldn't believe it. I never won any special kind of championship, so I thought I would never get in."

Throughout her adult life, McGee has served as an ambassador for motorcycling, whether through her example as a pioneering female competitor or through her speaking engagements and social media posts that encourage people—and especially women—to try motorcycling and competitive riding.

"I'm hoping I'm not only an ambassador to the sport, but an inspiration to women who are riding," McGee said. "I would like to see more women—and more younger women—get involved.

"It's a wonderful journey," she said. "It's not whether you finish first, second or last. It's the struggle to finish. It is the journey of your life."

One person McGee inspired is Judy Cairns of San Pedro, Calif. Cairns nominated McGee for consideration for induction to the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame.

"Mary McGee is a unique, dynamic force of nature in the world of motorcycling," Cairns wrote in her nomination letter. "She is revered by men, women and children who have the distinct pleasure of meeting her at one of the many motorcycle events where she is a featured speaker, being presented with an award or just attending to support that event. Her enthusiasm about all things 'motorcycle' is contagious.

"Mary has been a positive ambassador for the American Motorcyclist Association for the past 60-plus years," Cairns wrote. "Her genuine love of people and her ability to communicate her love of motorcycling to others has won her fans throughout the world."

McGee uses her Facebook page to post photos and accounts of her motorcycling life and to bring the sport to a new generation of riders.

"I don't want people to give up riding motorcycles," she said. "And I don't want people to be afraid to enter a competition event. People can start with a vintage motocross event. People there are helpful and kind. It's a great way to get started.

"I don't care what kind of riding people do—street, track, motocross, Baja. Just get started and do it. But, know that you're not going to start out with Supercross."