Golden races AMA Arenacross in Colo.

In her first professional race against the boys, Vicki Golden missed qualifying for the Denver Arenacross in the Lites class by one position. Steve Cox

She actually believed she was going to get snubbed by her competition. Instead, she said the reaction was overwhelming. Temecula, California's Vicki Golden, 18, who finished fourth at XG 16 in Women's Super X last July, has committed to racing eight rounds of the AMA Arenacross Championships in the Lites West series. Her first event was last night at the Denver Coliseum in Denver, Colo. where she missed qualifying for the final by one position. The Arenacross series has a doubleheader format and she will compete again tonight.

A top five competitor in the AMA Women's Motocross circuit and the 2008 Women's Class AMA Amateur National Champion, Golden isn't the first female to race professionally with the men, but she said she still didn't know what to expect because very few females have tried. "I came in expecting them to be like, 'Oh, what's she doing here?' and I didn't think they were going to want to have anything to do with me," Golden said this morning as she prepared for day two's practice sessions. "Last night, Kevin Johnson (XG 14 Speed & Style Gold Medalist) helped me and even guys in my class were giving me tips. They were telling me good luck and it was overwhelming because I was expecting a cold shoulder just because I'm trying to do something different."

Riders must take several steps to qualify into the 16 rider arenacross final. The first is to get seeded into the night program where 32 spots are available. Those riders are then divided into two heat races. Seven riders from each heat move on while the rest are slotted into a last chance qualifier. Golden finished eighth in her heat and third in the LCQ. Still, she said her 'baby steps' program is working and making the night show was goal number one. Next is to make a final.

Golden's commitment to eight rounds is rare. Recent pioneers like Stefy Bau and Jessica Patterson have made single race entries on the AMA Supercross and Motocross Championships but Golden said she wants to be a full-time competitor. "I wouldn't want to give myself only one shot," she said. "If I had said I was only going to race the one night in Denver, I would have been disappointed in myself because I didn't make the final. I figured if I do the full series then I'll have plenty of opportunities to give myself." Miki Keller, the founder of the Women's Motocross Association and the current XG Women's Super X director said she likes how Golden has approached this. "I told her it's important to come in and be her normal, modest self," Keller said. "It's nice to be a role model and a pioneer for women but at the track they're all just racers."

The AMA Arenacross series, which takes place indoors at basketball and hockey arenas now also serves as a stepping stone into the AMA Supercross series. Today, riders must prove proficiency before they're allowed to compete in supercross. If a rider earns at least 65 points in the Arenacross Lites class they can apply for their supercross license. Golden hopes to someday earn that license but first it's all about baby step number two.

Golden's next race will be in Reno, Nev. Feb. 18-19 at the Livestock Event Center. This summer she will compete on the AMA Women's Motocross Championship where she finished fourth in 2010.