January 11, 2022
By Joy Burgess
Photos by Mary Rinell
Every year the AMA — its Board of Directors and staff — bestows a very special honor on an individual or group that’s had the most profound impact on the world of motorcycling over the past 12 months.
And looking back over 2021, there was really only one choice: Brandy Richards and her superhuman effort in the 2021 ISDE in Italy, where she helped propel the U.S. Women’s Trophy Team to a spectacular victory.
Not only did Richards bring home the Women’s World Trophy with team members Rachel Gutish and Britney Gallegos, she did something no one — man or woman — had ever done in the ISDE’s 100-year-plus history…she won every single test in her class.
“People unfamiliar with the ISDE may not realize the magnitude of what [Brandy] did,” teammate Rachel Gutish told American Motorcyclist. “You have six ‘special tests’ per day for five days, minus three canceled for unsafe conditions. Then one more — the final moto. That’s 28 tests! Each test is a miniature race within a race. They are short enough to be an all-out sprint – between 6-20 minutes long — with every rider competing at max capacity. The potential for mistakes is high. And don’t forget…these special tests take place in the larger context of a multi-day event covering hundreds of miles.”
Twenty-eight special tests, in addition to the grueling day-to-day mileage. Let that sink in for a moment.
“The concentration and consistency to win the event, much less to have a perfect race…” Gutish continued. “What all this means is that she was unquestionably the most dominant female rider on the planet this year — quite possibly ever.”
“Brandy Richards accomplished something truly extraordinary in Italy this year,” said AMA Board of Directors Chairman Russ Ehnes. “Making ISDE history with her performance on the world stage deserved recognition — which is why we selected her as the AMA’s 2021 Motorcyclist of the Year. We’re extremely proud of her stellar example of American greatness and to have her as an AMA member.”
“I never even thought I’d be considered for [Motorcyclist of the Year],” Richards told American Motorcyclist, “even after winning at ISDE. It’s so amazing that the AMA recognized me. Making history like that, even in the off-road world…it’s pretty cool. Looking back on what I did, it’s pretty insane, and I’m so shocked to be given this honor.”
“Being recognized for winning has been so cool to me,” she continued, “and it was awesome that our team was represented on the cover of [American Motorcyclist]! It’s been great to represent women, and inspiring women to race and ride motorcycles is probably the best part of it.”
Congrats, Brandy Richards!