From Melissa Paris, With Love
Melissa Paris takes the fast approach to life, whether she's on the racetrack, picking up a new sport or building a loyal following of fans. She sums it up aptly when she says, "I'm an active person. I don't like to sit around. If there's something in which I can race or compete against someone, I'm into it."
These days, that need for competition is fulfilled on the racetrack: Melissa races the HT Moto Yamaha YZF-R6 in both the AMA Daytona Sportbike class and the WERA West Series. The Oceanside, California, resident says that track time is vital to staying on top of her game, and she plans to get plenty of it this year.
Melissa has always been a tomboy, thanks in large part to growing up with four older brothers, but it wasn't until her freshman year of college that she finally climbed onto a sportbike. In typical Melissa style, she jumped right in: less than a year after learning to ride, Melissa entered her first race. She raced in the second half of the 2004 WSMC and CCS Southwest seasons, then turned expert in 2005.
The top finishes began to stack up. In 2005, she earned two second-place finishes in WSMC's 125GP class. The next year, she added a win, two seconds, and two thirds to her résumé in the WERA National Endurance Series.
The 2009 season was a special highlight, as Melissa raced in World Super Sport at Miller Motorsports Park, and she notched the highest finish by a female in the Daytona 200 with 21st.
It was also the year that Melissa signed on with LeoVince. "They're not your typical company to deal with; it's really more like a family there. Tim Calhoun and the team at LeoVince have been so helpful, making sure I have everything I need. It's a really good relationship and they're good people," she says. "What I like is that what their top racers use is what the customers get."
Melissa's 2011 season began at Daytona International Speedway, where she finished 18th in the Daytona 200. "Unfortunately, in the race, we ended up melting a piston. I suppose I'm lucky I even finished the race. It was frustrating during the race because I could tell the bike was down on power," Melissa says.
Still, the result made her optimistic. She adds, "It gives me a lot of hope going forward, I know if I can finish 18th on three cylinders, then things are looking up for the rest of the year.
"My goals for the rest of the year are to be consistently in the top 15, and better at some of the tracks I'm stronger at. I have the confidence in myself that I have the ability to move forward. I'm getting quicker every time I'm on the bike and I think it will be an exciting year."
Melissa adds that her new approach to training should help her be more competitive on the track. "I've incorporated a lot of strength training into my program," Melissa explains. "At my pre-season test, I found myself doing things I couldn't do before. My husband even noticed I was riding different. As a girl you want to be petite, but as a motorcycle racer I want to be strong."
In addition to racing, Melissa has a passion for cycling, supermoto, motocross and swimming. She loves staying fit and active, but admits she has a weakness. "Anyone who knows me knows I have the worst sweet tooth known to mankind! I'm always open to awful treats. I've had two fans bring me cupcakes with my number on them. Sugar is the way to my heart!" Melissa says.
We just hope that the next time a fan brings cupcakes with Melissa's lucky number 13 on them, they bring enough for all of us. Sponsors love cupcakes, too!
Photos courtesy: http://www.melissaparis.com/media.php
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