The Empowersports Women’s Riding Council exists to uplift the passions that fuel women and put forth deliberate efforts for increased representation, inclusion and participation of women in powersports. The council joins women from all backgrounds and riding terrains as respected representatives of their sports, who will meet regularly with Polaris leaders to discuss breaking down barriers including increasing diverse female representation, vehicle and gear considerations, safety practices, combating biases and demystifying the sport for more women.
Meet the off-road council:
State: California, USA
Kristen wasn’t about to let her husband Wayne (a 20-year veteran professional off-road racer) have all the fun or success. Her hunger for adrenaline led her to take up residence behind the wheel of her own race-prepped RZR a little over four years ago, and she hasn’t lifted since. Turns out, Kristen has the same competitive drive as her husband and found herself capturing big wins quickly including first place finishes at the Best in the Desert Vegas to Reno race and the SCORE Tijuana Desert Challenge.
Her rapid rise to the podium earned her the 2017 Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame Impact Award presented to athletes who make an “Impact” within the off-road community. She has become known as the “IronWoman” because she drives every mile of every race she competes in, not once stopping to switch drivers. She has been behind the wheel of her race car for as long as 39 hours thus far, and has no plans of changing her style in the years to come. The following year her success continued with a class win at SCORE International’s season opener, the San Felipe 250, and had an astonishing finish at the SCORE Baja 500 with an Overall UTV win, beating out every UTV on the track. In 2019, she had back-to-back wins at the SCORE San Felipe 250 and was able to earn her first win at the granddaddy of them all, the SCORE Baja 1000.
State: Baja California, Mexico
Michelle Barraza has loved the off-road life since her parents first introduced her to it and now she continues their legacy. Education is very important to her family so she waited to begin racing until she achieved a BA degree in Criminal Justice. Being very family oriented, she’s currently a stay at-home-mother to her six children, ranging in ages from 4-15. Michelle has a wonderful husband who supports her 100 percent.
When Michelle’s grandmother passed away of cancer in 2016, it broke her heart. She wanted to do something for women and the cause, and that was the catalyst for her racing. Her first race was sponsored by Mujeres que Viven (Women that Live), a non-profit organization that helps bring awareness to woman about cancer, in Michelle’s hometown of Mexicali BCN. Michelle won that race and proudly dedicated it to her grandmother, who she knew was supporting her.
Michelle has since participated in many races through the years and never gives up. Regardless of any obstacle that may stand in her way, you’ll see her at the finish line. She’ll continue racing for years to come and has plans to participate in the 2021 Score Baja 250 in addition to many local races in her area.
Comprised of distinguished women who are riders, adventurers, leaders and entrepreneurs who bring unique perspectives and insights to the powersports space, Empowerspots Women’s Riding Council members are champions for advocacy, empowering women, building community, sparking adventure and fostering safety.
Meet all the Empowersports Women’s Riding council HERE