Three who defy the stereotype

Publish Date: 
Apr 17, 2013
By Dave Koshollek

IT'S MAY! Spring is in full swing and there are tons of motorcycles on the road with more females in the saddle than ever before.

Being a Geezer rider, I can reflect back to the ‘70s when it was extremely rare to see a female motorcycle rider and even more rare to find a woman working in the service end of our business.

Today, while not a majority, there are more women in service-related roles than ever before. And some, like Jennifer Stipkala, Rose Velasco and Janette Thornley, have moved up the ranks to hold prominent positions that affect hundreds of individuals, both male and female who are either in our business now or learning the ropes to begin their service careers.

You may already be familiar with Janette Thornley (see photo, left) if you’ve attended an All Harley Drag Racing Association race. Thornley is the tall, long-haired gal blasting down the quarter mile at speeds greater than 160 mph on her nitro-fueled Harley dragster.

That performance is a far cry from her 11 years working as a MSF Rider Coach, although I’m sure all that experience in the saddle serves her well on the strip.

Today, Thornley works for the Motor Co. as a Service Operations Area Representative (SOAR), where she assists dozens of California-based Harley dealerships in growing their service revenues.

Thornley explained, “What attracted me most [to the SOAR position] was the challenge of problem solving, and coaching staff as they continue their efforts toward exceptional customer service.” Away from the track, Thornley rides a 2012 CVO Harley-Davidson Road Glide Custom.

Thornley sees a growing number of females in the field. Her recommendation for women interested in a service career is to “…spend a day at a motorcycle shop observing the daily activities and interactions with others.” This will give them a feel for what to expect.

“I spoke to several SOARs, both male and female, before I moved forward [(to apply for the SOAR position],” she said. That’s also smart advice.

Rose Velasco began riding back in the ‘90s and has a varied taste for two-wheeled iron: She rides vintage Triumphs, late-model Buells and Harley-Davidsons. She graduated from MMI in 1997 and then worked as a technician at a number of Harley dealerships for more than 10 years, with a four-year stint at a custom shop. Velasco is building a 1970 Triumph 250 bobber from a basket of parts. (Continued)