Hall of Fame News

Hall of Famer Spotlight: Bessie Stringfield

Photo and information from the collection of Ann Ferrar

February 13, 2023

By Keaton Maisano

For Black History Month, February’s Hall of Famer Spotlight is Bessie Stringfield, an impactful motorcyclist who helped break down barriers for both women and Black riders.

Born in 1911, Stringfield used the 1930s and ’40s to take eight long-distance, solo rides across the United States. Showing a tremendous amount of courage, Stringfield’s journeys took her through the Deep South during an era when the region was both unfriendly to and unsafe for people of color.

During the recording of her oral history for Ann Ferrar’s primary-sourced book Hear Me Roar: Women, Motorcycles and the Rapture of the Road, Stringfield said her travels were not easy, but she found support along the way.

“If you had black skin you couldn’t get a place to stay,” Stringfield said. “I knew the Lord would take care of me and He did. If I found black folks, I’d stay with them. If not, I’d sleep at filling stations on my motorcycle.”

During World War II, Stringfield worked for the army as a civilian motorcycle courier.

Following the war in the 1950s, Stringfield settled in Miami and founded the Iron Horse Motorcycle Club and earned the nickname “The Motorcycle Queen of Miami.”

In honor of Stringfield, who passed away in 1993, the AMA Bessie Stringfield Award is presented annually to an individual — or individuals — who has been instrumental in bringing emerging markets into the world of motorcycling.

Stringfield was posthumously inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2002.