MotoWoman in Parade

This image appeared in the August 13, 1909, Indianapolis Star and shows the only woman to participate as a motorcycle rider in any of the events surrounding the first motorized competition at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. These events not only included a convention of the national governing body of motorcyclists - the Federation of American Motorcyclists (FAM) - but also that club's 388-mile endurance ride from Cleveland-to-Indianapolis that kicked off the big motorcycle events that week in the Hoosier capital.
The woman in the photo is Mrs. J.F. Heatley of Indianapolis (thanks to the great contribution of First Super Speedway fan Leslie McKenzie Boruff we now know Mrs. Heatley's first name: Virginia) who joined approximately 200 other bike riders in the great motorcycle parade the previous day. Leslie did some additional research and found Virginia's home in Indianapolis, which still stands today.
Mrs. Heatley can be seen in a group photo of the bike riders around monument circle. There is no doubt in my mind that pioneers like Mrs. Heatley were having an immediate impact, albeit incremental, on motoring. Just months later the Indianapolis Automobile Trade Association (IATA) announced women would participate as judges in their 1910 Indianapolis Automobile Show.
The previous day a Star article listed this parade as one of the several motorcycle-related activities happening in Indianapolis on August 13. The activities included: a photograph of riders and bikes at monument circle; a ride to Kokomo; a ride touring Indianapolis; the street parade of motorcycles; a ride to the Riverside "bathing beach" and, in the evening, a reception and entertainment at the German House which include vaudeville acts and band music.

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