Rise of the southern girl racer

Brooke Acker, 9, will be racing her dragster for the first time at Teretonga in February.
Supplied

Brooke Acker, 9, will be racing her dragster for the first time at Teretonga in February.

When Bluff woman Dawn Valentine's partner called to tell her he'd crashed his car, her first concern was for what she would drive in drag races.

Valentine, 39, is one of a handful of female drivers who compete at Southern Dragways events.

There's soon to be a new girl on the track, too, as nine-year-old Brooke Acker is expected to make her debut in her dragster this month.

Bluff woman Dawn Valentine races her turbo XR6 Falcon at Southern Dragways competitions.
Hannah McLeod/Fairfax NZ

Bluff woman Dawn Valentine races her turbo XR6 Falcon at Southern Dragways competitions.

Now in her third season of drag racing, when she started out Valentine competed in a V6 Holden Commodore, before changing to her partner's Ford Falcon XR8, because the commodore was "far too slow".

When he called to say he had crashed his Falcon, Valentine said he told her not to panic and that he was okay.

"I went, 'yeah, but what am I gonna drive, what am I gonna race?'"

Southern Dragways Club president Steve Acker with his daughter Brooke, 9, who will be racing her new dragster at ...
Kavinda Herath/Fairfax NZ

Southern Dragways Club president Steve Acker with his daughter Brooke, 9, who will be racing her new dragster at Teretonga in February.

Valentine used to spend her time at drag racing events watching her partner compete, until she saw another woman behind the wheel on the drag strip.

"I thought God, if she can do it, so can I."

Now, Valentine drives her 2006 Ford Falcon BF XR6 Turbo with a tiptronic automatic transmission.

She achieved her best time in December, driving the quarter-mile at Teretonga in 13.9 seconds.

Ad Feedback

It was after that run that Valentine showed one of the ways she is a bit different from the men on the track - she did her "happy dance".

"The men, you see them, they can have an awesome run, they'll have their best run ever and ... I'm sure they're all dead inside, there's like no emotion," Valentine said with a laugh.

Being a woman in what was somewhat considered a man's sport wasn't a disadvantage, she said.

"I'm slowly learning the different technical jargon that all the boys talk about."

In fact, women supposedly had better reaction times off the line, Valentine said.

She has also learned that drag racing isn't necessarily about beating another car, but competing against yourself.

"It's an adrenaline rush, racing, how I wanna go faster, and I get a bit of a buzz out of beating some of the boys, but it's more about beating my own times for me."

While Valentine is finding her stride in the drag racing world, a girl three decades younger than her is about to start her drag racing career.

Steve Acker has just bought his daughter Brooke, 9, her first dragster.

Capable of travelling at speeds of up to 122kmh, Acker said Brooke would not be going that fast just yet.

He believed there weren't any other children from the South Island racing in junior dragster competitions.

Brooke would have a go at southern drag racing meets, and if she enjoyed it enough, the family would consider taking her to junior competitions, he said.

Sitting in her dragster, Brooke couldn't quite reach the pedals, but announced, "I wanna sleep in here."

Her dad would be making the required modifications for her to be able to see over the steering wheel, and to reach the pedals.

The nine-year-old said getting the dragster was her mum, Sarah's, idea.

Brooke said she wasn't nervous about racing, but was looking forward to it.

She wouldn't be driving a full quarter-mile, but would instead drag a 1/8 mile.

 - Stuff

Comments

Ad Feedback
special offers
Ad Feedback