May 23, 2017

14 year old stunt rider opens Vintage Flat Track races with ride through firewall

Daredevil Danielle Schultz rides through a firewall of 1x4's to open the 26th annual Vintage Flat Track racing at O'Keefe Ranch in Vernon, B.C. - photo by Marissa Baecker
14 yr old Danielle Schultz of Williams Lake, B.C. poses on her vintage Kawasaki motorcycle in front of a wall of 1x4's that she would later ride through - photo by Marissa Baecker
14 yr old Danielle Schultz of Williams Lake, B.C. poses on her vintage Kawasaki motorcycle in front of a wall of 1×4’s that she would later ride through – photo by Marissa Baecker

As we age we all remember the days when we were young and fearless. For 14 year old Williams Lake resident, Danielle Schultz, she is living it.

At the 26th annual vintage flat track races held at O’Keefe Ranch in Vernon, B.C. July 5, 2014, Danielle wanted to pay tribute to her late daredevil father, Dan Schultz. Dan had been a stunt performer and vintage flat track racer for several years before he died when Danielle was a mere 9 years old. Since his passing the event has held a memorial ride in his honour but this year, Danielle wanted to do something more personal to pay tribute to her father – perform one of his stunts – ride through a wall of fire on her vintage Kawasaki 125cc motorcycle.

Even though she had practiced riding through flames in the grass at home, this would be the first time she would attempt an entire wall of flames and the first time she would do it publicly.

Daredevil Danielle Schultz rides toward a firewall of 1x4's at the 26th annual Vintage Flat Track racing at O'Keefe Ranch in Vernon, B.C. - photo by Marissa Baecker
Daredevil Danielle Schultz rides toward a firewall of 1×4’s at the 26th annual Vintage Flat Track racing at O’Keefe Ranch in Vernon, B.C. – photo by Marissa Baecker

At the peak of  the afternoon heat, 30 degrees, Danielle stepped into her fire retardant suit, warmed up with three laps around the track before taking a run for the wall. Crowds cheered her on (and held their breath) as Danielle approached the wall of flames. The track was eerily silent as the boards cracked but immediately burst into cheers after she successfully came out the other side.

Daredevil Danielle Schultz rides through a firewall of 1x4's to open the 26th annual Vintage Flat Track racing at O'Keefe Ranch in Vernon, B.C. - photo by Marissa Baecker
Daredevil Danielle Schultz rides through a firewall of 1×4’s to open the 26th annual Vintage Flat Track racing at O’Keefe Ranch in Vernon, B.C. – photo by Marissa Baecker

After her success, I asked her what was going through her mind as she approached the wall, “I was nervous about the timing,” she said. “Timing is everything. I had to get my head down and I was worried that the wall had been lit too soon. After I broke through, I had a board stuck to my bike and I almost hit the fence.”

When asked if she would do it again, there was no hesitation, “Yes! I want more flames next time though!”

Danielle Schultz holds up a piece of autographed board from her inaugural public performance of riding through a wall of fire - photo by Marissa Baecker
Danielle Schultz holds up a piece of autographed board from her inaugural public performance of riding through a wall of fire – photo by Marissa Baecker

Proud of her success, Danielle autographed remaining charred pieces of the wall for fans and then went on to win the first heat of the open 125cc class vintage flat track race.

14 year old Danielle Schultz takes the checkered flag in the first heat of 125cc vintage flat track racing at O'Keefe Ranch in Vernon, B.C. on Saturday, July 6, 2014 - photo by Marissa Baecker
14 year old Danielle Schultz takes the checkered flag in the first heat of 125cc vintage flat track racing at O’Keefe Ranch in Vernon, B.C. on Saturday, July 6, 2014 – photo by Marissa Baecker
About Marissa Baecker 442 Articles
Marissa Baecker is a professional photographer (www.shootthebreeze.ca) and writer, contributing to various media publications. Marissa considers herself a solid rider but without any technical or instructing background, she does not consider herself an expert but rather someone who is learning every day and wanting to share her knowledge. Marissa enjoys all aspects of riding including dirt bikes, quads, scooters, street bikes and even a little racing.

Be still, a mother’s heart…
This article is beautifully put together by a very talented photo journalist – Marissa Baeker. I would like to thank her for being there to capture one of the most special memories my family will ever hold in their hearts. I am sure this is the first of many stunt performances Danielle will do in her lifetime but the first time only happens once. Although she lost her dad a few years ago, I know he was riding with her that day. Thank you, Marissa. You are the best!