Melissa Paris: "Sign me up! I'm there!"

Melissa Paris Laguna Seca action

Melissa Paris was able to maintain focus during practice and qualifying at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, but on race day, pneumonia got the better of the MotoAmerica Supersport rider.

Melissa Paris didn’t fly to Japan as planned this past week to compete in Saturday’s Suzuka 4 Hours, precursor to round two of the FIM Endurance World Championship, the Suzuka 8 Hours.

Paris didn’t line up as planned last weekend for the MotoAmerica Supersport race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, either. Instead, she remained at her hotel suffering from the effects of pneumonia.

The M4 MPH Racing Suzuki rider began to feel ill mid-June at Barber Motorsports Park. Two weeks later, Paris said, she was coughing heavily, “like a serious respiratory problem.”

Between rounds six and seven of the MotoAmerica series, held at Miller Motorsports Park and Mazda Raceway, Paris flew to Spain to compete in an endurance race, the 24 Hours of Cataluyna, with three other women.

Paris didn’t expect to be that busy this summer. “I have this really bad habit of assuming that nothing is ever going to work out,” she said, “so I say yes to everything. And every once in a while, everything works out.

“I had been talking to the team about doing the Catalunya 24-hour race for a couple years, but every year, I had another race that conflicted. Back in January, I looked at my calendar and I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, I can do it! Sign me up. I’m there.’”

Paris was prescribed medicine and thought she was going to be okay for the race in Spain. “It was a struggle,” she admitted. “I had a really hard time breathing. It was pretty miserable but adrenaline got me through the race.”

Melissa Paris headshot

About endurance racing, Paris said, “It’s not about throwing down one lap that’s really fast or 10 laps that are really fast. You have to be able to do it all freaking day.”

Indeed, the Girls Racing Team—Muriel Simorre and Amandine Creusot of France, Jolanda van Westrenen of the Netherlands, and American Paris—took top honors in both qualifying and the race in the Superstock 600 class.

“It wasn’t a class win,” Paris said. “It was a class smashing. I think we won by more than 10 laps. To be the fastest 600 in qualifying was huge.

“I have a bit of chip on my shoulder in a long race when people are like, ‘Oh, you only did well because of attrition.’ We pretty much led that whole race. That made me super proud.”

Every member of the team was strong, Paris said. “For once, it wasn’t, ‘Oh, look, a girls team. Aren’t we adorable? We’re going to paint our bike pink.’ We came to get some hardware.”

The next day, Paris left the racetrack, arrived the airport and checked her luggage, ready to fly to Japan for the Suzuka 4 Hours test. “I was in the middle of the Barcelona airport and a fever hit me,” she said. “I was standing there in a puddle of sweat.”

Paris phoned the Moriwaki Synergy Force Honda team for whom she and fellow Californian Shelina Moreda were supposed to compete. “They were like, ‘No, just go home and get some rest,’” she said. “So that’s what I did.

“I’m so thankful for [husband] Josh [Hayes]. I don’t even think I was capable of booking a flight at that point. I Skyped him, and he said, ‘I’ve got you. You’re covered.’”

After qualifying 13th on Friday at Mazda Raceway, Paris got a lecture from her husband and MotoAmerica physician Dr. Rossi about taking better care of herself. Common sense prevailed, and Paris sat out the race.

“Maybe there is a lesson to be learned in this,” she said. “But even when you’re sick and feel bad, it’s still worth it for the chance to spray some champagne.”

Melissa Paris Laguna Seca action

Melissa Paris was able to maintain focus during practice and qualifying at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, but on race day, pneumonia got the better of the MotoAmerica Supersport rider.

Melissa Paris didn’t fly to Japan as planned this past week to compete in Saturday’s Suzuka 4 Hours, precursor to round two of the FIM Endurance World Championship, the Suzuka 8 Hours.

Paris didn’t line up as planned last weekend for the MotoAmerica Supersport race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, either. Instead, she remained at her hotel suffering from the effects of pneumonia.

The M4 MPH Racing Suzuki rider began to feel ill mid-June at Barber Motorsports Park. Two weeks later, Paris said, she was coughing heavily, “like a serious respiratory problem.”

Between rounds six and seven of the MotoAmerica series, held at Miller Motorsports Park and Mazda Raceway, Paris flew to Spain to compete in an endurance race, the 24 Hours of Cataluyna, with three other women.

Paris didn’t expect to be that busy this summer. “I have this really bad habit of assuming that nothing is ever going to work out,” she said, “so I say yes to everything. And every once in a while, everything works out.

“I had been talking to the team about doing the Catalunya 24-hour race for a couple years, but every year, I had another race that conflicted. Back in January, I looked at my calendar and I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, I can do it! Sign me up. I’m there.’”

Paris was prescribed medicine and thought she was going to be okay for the race in Spain. “It was a struggle,” she admitted. “I had a really hard time breathing. It was pretty miserable but adrenaline got me through the race.”

Melissa Paris headshot

About endurance racing, Paris said, “It’s not about throwing down one lap that’s really fast or 10 laps that are really fast. You have to be able to do it all freaking day.”

Indeed, the Girls Racing Team—Muriel Simorre and Amandine Creusot of France, Jolanda van Westrenen of the Netherlands, and American Paris—took top honors in both qualifying and the race in the Superstock 600 class.

“It wasn’t a class win,” Paris said. “It was a class smashing. I think we won by more than 10 laps. To be the fastest 600 in qualifying was huge.

“I have a bit of chip on my shoulder in a long race when people are like, ‘Oh, you only did well because of attrition.’ We pretty much led that whole race. That made me super proud.”

Every member of the team was strong, Paris said. “For once, it wasn’t, ‘Oh, look, a girls team. Aren’t we adorable? We’re going to paint our bike pink.’ We came to get some hardware.”

The next day, Paris left the racetrack, arrived the airport and checked her luggage, ready to fly to Japan for the Suzuka 4 Hours test. “I was in the middle of the Barcelona airport and a fever hit me,” she said. “I was standing there in a puddle of sweat.”

Paris phoned the Moriwaki Synergy Force Honda team for whom she and fellow Californian Shelina Moreda were supposed to compete. “They were like, ‘No, just go home and get some rest,’” she said. “So that’s what I did.

“I’m so thankful for [husband] Josh [Hayes]. I don’t even think I was capable of booking a flight at that point. I Skyped him, and he said, ‘I’ve got you. You’re covered.’”

After qualifying 13th on Friday at Mazda Raceway, Paris got a lecture from her husband and MotoAmerica physician Dr. Rossi about taking better care of herself. Common sense prevailed, and Paris sat out the race.

“Maybe there is a lesson to be learned in this,” she said. “But even when you’re sick and feel bad, it’s still worth it for the chance to spray some champagne.”