The Albury Wodonga District Car Club (AWDCC) recently hosted a Women’s Drive Day at the Wodonga TAFE Circuit, with support from the CAMS Club Development Fund.
The concept of the day was arranged by Annabel Ranford, who recently became the AWDCC’s Club Secretary, to promote a safe and welcome environment for women looking to experience the thrill of motor sport.
Ranford herself is only a relative newcomer to motor sport.
“I’ve been involved in motor sport for about 18 months now, so I’m quite new to things. I got started when I bought my first MX-5 track car and I’ve been doing some sprint events since, and this is the first event I’ve organised myself,” Ranford said.
“When I got started, I found that the environment of motor sport can be a bit intimidating for women. I wanted to find a way that we might be able to get more women participating, but taking away some of those barriers that make people feel uncomfortable or less confident. That’s why I wanted to get this started.”
The 27 female participants were also joined by professional driver Chelsea Angelo, who served as a mentor and role model to the group as she shared her experiences as a young professional driver.
“I think it’s absolutely great to see all these women come out and give it a go ... It’s great to see women in such a male dominated sport to give it a go, and basically I’m here to build up their confidence. Give it a crack, why not!?” Angelo said.
“I definitely feel like there is a big part, especially on me and other female racers, to influence other young, potential, women racers to do what we’re doing. I hope to influence some young girls that are coming through the ranks to do what I’m doing‒to always aspire, look to the future and say that I can actually do it.“
Participants were coached by the experienced driver training crew from Trackschool, led by its founder and chief instructor John Boston.
“To see people improve a huge amount throughout the day is very satisfying. That’s why I do this,” Boston said.
“I don’t do a huge amount of motor sport now, but this is my job … I love being able to find 10 or 20 seconds in a day like today, or people finding tenths or hundredths.
“I think the environment today was perfect. We kept the numbers minimal on the circuit so they didn’t have to worry about a lot of the things that they probably thought they had to worry about, lots of instructors in the cars … We want to keep it light-hearted, fun and safe as well. I think a lot of these people will be coming back again.”
Matalita was one of the 27 female participants, and despite some early nerves she thoroughly enjoyed her first ever experience in a motor sport environment.
“It has been the best experience I’ve had in such a long time,” Matalita said.
“[John Boston] was amazing, you just trust him, follow his instructions, and you can really take it around the track.
“I was almost having a panic attack the first time I got in! The second time around, I was more relaxed, and having John by my side made it more comfortable so you could push yourself.
“That’s the most inspiring part of today, especially having Chelsea here – I’m inspired by all these women. We can do this just as good as the blokes!”
Ranford was thrilled with the turnout of participants for the day, and the assurance that there are plenty of women who are just as passionate about cars and motor sport.
“The interest in this event has been incredible … we know there’s a lot of women that are passionate about motor sport and about their cars, we just need to give them the opportunity to get out there,” Ranford said.
“It’s wonderful to see the confidence build in women, and that’s what motor sport does for people, it really does help your confidence. In your daily life, competing with other people, and getting out there and showing that we can be up there with the men as well. There doesn’t need to be a separation between the sexes, that we can be out there together.”
Angelo was also encouraged at the level of interest for the event and the shared bond for the enthusiasm for the sport, and hoped it would start the motor sport careers of many of the women – whether it be at club or professional levels.
“I’d be like, ‘Girl, go for it!’. If anyone asks me for any advice‒how to get in motor sport‒this is a perfect example to drive these sorts of cars. If not, karting is also a great step to get into motor sport,” Angelo said.
Ranford was equally inspired by the community spirit of club motor sport, but also relished the competitive nature of the sport.
“That’s a big part of our car club, that everyone really shares that camaraderie before and during the event that we’re all here for each other. If your car breaks down, someone will give you a hand and fix it for you,” Ranford said.
“But then there’s also the competitive side of things‒once you’re out there on the track, everyone is equal.”
Enquiries regarding the CAMS Club Development Fund can be sent to [email protected]