Life is for living, vows survivor
Robyn Beaumont has faced down a serious illness. Riding in an 11sec drag race car is her statement that she's not done with living.
The Nelson woman, a cancer survivor who sports a pink ribbon tattoo inside her right forearm, was the winner of a trip down the dragstrip during the Nelson Drag Racing Association's meeting in Motueka on Saturday.
She cast a people's choice competition vote for husband Rob's HSV Holden during the recent Nelson car show and was drawn to take a rapid lap in Richie Ayers' 7.3 litre (446 cubic inch) Valiant at The Rock 94.4FM Dragway.
Although she had Rob, sons Damian, 16, and Zachary, nine, and her mum along in support, Beaumont admitted to early nerves as she watched Ayers smoke the tyres and rocket away from the start in the big four-door sedan in early qualifying runs.
"It's my first time here, I'm a little bit apprehensive," she said. "I hadn't expected it to be so loud or for the cars to be as fast as they are."
Beaumont had been diagnosed with a cancer two days before her 41st birthday. She underwent a double mastectomy in Hutt Hospital with surgeon Christopher Adams also performing reconstructive work afterwards. Just over two years later, Beaumont still has her bad days but is determined not to waste opportunities.
"When my name came out in the draw, I was going to give the prize to Rob but then I thought ‘Bugger it, I need to live, I need to push past the fears and my safe zone'," she said.
Helmeted and strapped in by Ayers, the Valiant was rolled into the burnout area where the sticky back slicks are heated for startline traction. On the green light, Ayers planted his right foot, Beaumont clung to whatever was available inside the car and they set off on a dead-straight 11.66sec quartermile pass at 116mph (186kmh).
As they returned to the pits, Ayers lining up immediately for another run, Beaumont climbed out of the steaming hot interior only slightly breathless.
"That was awesome, fantastic, I really want to do it again," she said. "There's a time when you have been ill that you realise you shouldn't sit back and let the world happen, you need to take charge of things.
"I'm proud of what this [her tattoo] means and where I've come with my family. And I'm totally blown away by drag racing, they have a convert."
With Ayers planning a new engine for his car that should shave 1 seconds off his times and add around 40kmh to the trap speed, Beaumont might check back in at Motueka next summer.