The Tom Petty song that reminds motorcycle racer Melissa Paris she 'won't back down'
Melissa Paris has notched a lot of firsts in the sport of racing. Ten years ago, she was the first female to qualify for a world supersport race, and in 2013, she finished in the top 10 at the Daytona 200. She was a member of the first all-female team to qualify for and compete in the 24-hour endurance race known as the Bol d'Or in 2016, and it's safe to say, the 35-year-old was most likely the first motorcycle racer to compete while pregnant.
Two years ago, she decided to make a contribution to the sport that would go beyond her own race results: She founded a new racing team with the goal of mentoring young female riders in motocross.
"I got into the sport so late compared to most people, and I've gotten to do so many awesome things despite that," she said. "I remember when I just started racing and I already knew that I wanted to one day race at this level. I think if I'd told people around me they might have laughed at me, but I just kept trying to figure it out."
With her team, MP13, she hopes to get more young women into the sport and give them the road map she didn't have when she was starting out.
Paris -- whose husband, Josh Hayes, is coming out of retirement to race the Daytona 200 for her team -- gave us the scoop on the playlist that gets her fired up.
"Tom Petty's 'I Won't Back Down' is my theme song," Paris says. "The lyrics are so simple and repetitive that it's almost like a mantra for me. It's really universal, whether I'm trying to find sponsors to keep my team together, grinding out a particularly hard day of training or getting focused just before a MotoAmerica race. I love the cadence of it and the reminder to just keep putting one foot in front of the other. It's a really good reminder of who I am and that I just don't give up."
Here's the rest of Paris' "embarrassingly eclectic" playlist: