This post is about female racers in the saloon/production scene in Australia and New Zealand. This includes Ute racing. In recent years, there have been several women drivers who have started to appear regularly, and achieve decent finishes. For the results of female drivers in the Bathurst 12 Hours, please click here. For the equivalent drivers in New Zealand, click here. Christine Cole now has her own post, as do Paula Elstrek, Sue Ransom and Sue Hughes.
Amber Anderson - Australian driver who competes in touring cars, mostly Production racers, and sportscars. She began racing a Porsche 944, and still drives it on occasion. She drove in the Bathurst 12 Hours in 2007, 2008 and 2009, finishing fifth in the Porsche in 2009. Her 2007 car was a Toyota Celica, which she shared with Danielle Argiro. They did not finish. They competed together again in 2008, driving a Holden Vectra this time. During the 2007 season, they also drove in the Production Car championship in the Celica. In 2009 she did not race as much and concentrated on driving the course car for the V8 Supercar series. 2010 went in much the same way, but with three rounds of the V8 Supercar development series at the end of the season, with a promise of more in the future. In 2011, again, she did not do much official racing, although she took part in a motorsport reality TV series, competing for a race seat alongside other novice and underfunded drivers. She did not win. For 2012, she was close to a deal for the Fujitsu Supercar Development Series, which appears to have fallen through. She took part in three V8 Ute races, and remained involved as the series' safety car driver.
Danielle Argiro - competed in three Australian Formula Three rounds in 2004, for the Piccola Scuderia team. She finished twelfth overall. That year, she also raced V8 Brutes, coming 23rd. Previously, she raced saloons at club level with some success, since the age of 17. After some time away from major events, she competed in the Bathurst 12 Hours in 2007 as part of an all-female team, driving a Toyota Celica. Her team-mate was Amber Anderson and they were 21st, sixth in class. She also raced a Holden Vectra in Australian Production Cars, sometimes with Amber Anderson as a co-driver in enduro races. She does not appear to have raced much since 2008, although she was ninth in the Golden Holden One Hour race in 2009, driving a Gemini with Kandice Cannon. She has also taken part in some Time Attack speed events, in a Commodore.
Anne Bennett – raced in Australia in the 1960s. She was second in Class D in the 1964 Sandown 6 Hours, sharing a Toyota Crown with John Colwell. Previously, in 1962, she was one of the first female entrants into the major endurance race that became the Bathurst 1000, when she raced a Simca in the Armstrong 500 at Phillip Island. Her team-mates were Pam Murison and Diana Leighton. Anne may have been active in other saloon races in the early 1960s, but details of her career are very sketchy.
Samantha Bennett – raced as part of Lauren Gray’s all-female team in the 2012 Australian Production Car Championship, driving a Toyota Echo alongside Lauren and Maddison Gray. She was seventh in class E, and 50th overall, as she did not complete the whole season. Previously, she raced at club level, from at least 2009, when she competed in her regional Holden Gemini Championship. She also raced in sprint cars and production cars, at club level, and tested for the Suzuki Swift Cup, with support from the CAMS Women Drivers’ Development Programme. She does not appear to have raced since 2012.
Ellexandra Best - races in the Australian Production Car Championship. She drives for Lauren Gray’s team. In 2016, she drove a Toyota Echo in Class E, and was second in the class standings. Her best overall finish was twelfth, at Sydney. She was the youngest driver ever to compete in the series, at seventeen. Previously, she raced a Hyundai Excel, first in the 2015 NSW Excel Racing Series, and then in the 2016 Victorian Excel Championship.
Carly Black - raced a Renault Clio in the 2016 Australian Production Car Championship. Her best result was eleventh place, at Sydney, and she was 34th in the championship. This was her second time in the APCC, after she raced the Clio part-time in the series in 2014. In between, she raced in the NSW PCC, still in the Clio. She has been active in motorsport since at least 2008, when she took part in the Wakefield 300 enduro, in a Peugeot 206, finishing twelfth.
Kerryn Brewer - took part in various Australian Touring Car races in the 1990s. In 1996, she was fourth in the all-female Mazda 121 Challenge and second in the Mallala Commodore Cup. She was twelfth in the 1997 Bathurst 24 Hours with Melinda Price, the highest finish for an all-female team. She also entered in 1998, and came eleventh. During both of these seasons, she and Melinda Price competed together as the “Castrol Cougars”, driving VS Commodores. They were unable to complete full season due to a lack of funding, but made an impression nevertheless. After this, Kerryn faded from the scene.
Teigan Butchers – raced in the 2005 Australian Production car Championship. She used two different cars: a Proton Satria and a Citroen Xsara. She was not among the front-runners, and did not score points in the championship. 2005 seems to have been her only year of competition, and she now works as a physiotherapist and specialist personal trainer for people with disabilities.
Michelle Callaghan – raced saloons in Australia in the 1990s. She competed in two Bathurst 12 Hour races, in 1992 and 1994. The first time, she drove a Nissan Pulsar as part of an all-female team, with Tracey Taylor and Melinda Price. They were 17th, and fifth in class B. In 1994, she was partnered with Brian Callaghan and Chris Symmonds, in a Class A Toyota Corolla. She finished again, in 23rd place, and again fifth in class. Earlier, in 1991, she was tenth in the Winton 300, in a Toyota Corolla. Further details of Michelle’s activities are not forthcoming, although she did race in Formula Vee at some point.
Emma Clark – raced in Aussie Racing Cars in 2016. Her car was an Aurion, and she ran in support of ovarian cancer charities. She was not among the front-runners, with her best finishes being two 23rd places, at Phillip Island and Hidden Valley. Although 2016 was her debut year in Aussie Racing Cars, she had raced in club events for the past ten years, driving a Mazda RX-3.
Carole Corness – active in the late 1960s and early 1970s in Australia. She took part in the Hardie-Ferrodo 500 twice, in 1969 and 1970. The first time, she drove a Mini Cooper with fellow Queenslander Ann Thomson, but did not finish. The second time, she drove a MkI Ford Escort, and was 42nd, alongside Gloria Taylor. The pair were sponsored by Women’s Day, an Australian magazine. In 1970, she also raced a “Super Bee” MGB with her husband, Iain Corness, and was active in ladies’ races held at Oran Park, possibly in a Mini.
Madison Dunston - races in the Aussie Racing Cars series. Her debut was in 2016, and she took part in nine races that year, in an Aurion. Sadly, she did not finish many of them. For 2017, she switched to an Altima, which proved more reliable. Her best results have been a pair of tenth places at Symmonds Plains. Prior to ARC, Madison spent one season in karting, moving up to senior competition at 16.
Mary Fabian – raced in Formula Gemini in Australia in 1978, driving a Holden Gemini. She was fourth in at least one race. Further details of her time in Formula Gemini are not readily available. In 1980, she raced in the Australian Touring Car Championship, for at least two races, driving an Isuzu-badged Gemini. Again, further details of her activities this season are proving hard to find. Her surname is sometimes spelled “Fabien”.
Maddison Gray - did two seasons of Production Car racing in Australia, driving for her sister Lauren Gray’s team. Her car in both 2011 and 2012 was a Toyota Echo Sportivo. Both times, she raced in Class E for a part-season only, so was not able to feature highly in the leaderboards. In 2013, she recorded a single tenth place at Phillip Island, but does not appear to have done much since then. As well as saloons, she is a regular Formula Vee racer, competing in state championships, also for Lauren Gray Motorsport. This was her main motorsport activity for 2013. In 2014, she competed extensively in Formula Vee, with Hendrick Racing. She tackled the Australian championship, for at least a part-season, and was twelfth in the Victoria state championship. She raced against her sister in some of the rounds. She made a small return to motorsport in 2016, driving a Eunos 30X in the Phillip Island round of Australian Production Cars. She was seventeenth. Later in the season, she drove for Team Brock in the Ken Leigh 4-Hour Endurance Classic. Her car was a Holden HQ Kingswood. She did not finish.
Tania Gulson – raced in Australian touring and one-make series in the 1990s. Her first major races were the AMSCAR Series events at Amaroo, in 1993. She drove a BMW 635 CSi, and managed to finish most of her races, but was not among the front-runners. She was driving for her father, Ray’s team, and was set to contest the Bathurst 12 Hour race with Ray and her brother, Graham, but she could not start the race, due to not qualifying. Later on, she did some one-make racing, including the Suzuki Swift GTi Cup in 1995. In 1996, she won the all-female Mazda 121 Challenge. Later, she raced motorcycles with her husband, Mark Bennett.
Sheryl Hanright - New Zealander who races in the Ssangyong Ute Racing Series. Her first season in the Ute was the 2015-16 winter season. This followed a title win in the NZ Holden HQ championship in 2015. At the time, she had been racing the car for almost ten years. She has also taken part in some NZ enduro races in it. So far, she has not been quite as successful in the Ute. At the time of writing, she is in 24th place in the 2016-17 Ute series.
Sarah Harley – races production saloons in Australia. She began in 2000, and between 2007 and 2011, she raced a Mazda MX-5 in production sportscar races, usually in her home state of Queensland, although she did make a trip to Mount Panorama in 2008, for the Production Sports race at the Easter meeting. In 2010, she took part in the Queensland rounds of the Mini Challenge, with a best finish of tenth, despite narrowly avoiding being involved in a serious accident where spectators were injured. After a couple of seasons in Rocketsports and small sportscar enduro racing, in the MX-5, she got herself a drive in the 2012 Bathurst 12 Hours, sharing a Lotus Exige with Christian Klien and Robert Thomson. They were second in Class C, ninth overall. The following year, she raced a Mazda 3223 Astina in the Australian Production Car Championship, winning Class E by two points. She also did some APCC races in a Honda Integra, and was eighth in Class D, sharing a car with Michael Gray. In 2014, she was back in the Mazda, and was fifteenth in the Willowbank 300. In 2015, she was tenth in the HQ Holden vs Gemini 1-Hour race, driving a Holden, but she does not appear to have raced since then.
Katilyn Hawkins – races a Suzuki Swift in a one-make series in Australia. She started in 2013, at the age of 20, with a short part-season. Her final finishing position was 20th. In 2014, she was tenth. After a slow start to the season, and some missed races due to car trouble, she managed a seventh place at Winton, her home track. Her 2015 activities are unclear; the Swift was put up for sale in March. However, she was racing a Swift in November, when she took part in the Winton 300 race, finishing thirteenth. She carried on in the Swift in 2016, on a limited programme. She was eighteenth in the Phillip Island round of Australian Production Cars, and 31st in the Winton round of the Australian Endurance Championship. She also tested a V8 Supercar.
Darrilyn Huitt – raced saloons in Australia in the 1970s. She entered the Bathurst 1000 once, in 1973, driving a Holden Torana with Pat Peck. They did not finish. Darrilyn drove solo in different classes, and also took part in some of the ladies’ races that were held at Oran Park in the 1970s, but details of her career are very sketchy. She may have been one of the drivers in a Renault 12 ladies’ race at Oran Park in 1977.
Lynne Keeffe – raced in Australia in the 1960s and 1970s. She raced in the Bathurst 500 twice, in 1969 and 1970. She did not finish the first time, driving with Christine Gibson. In 1970, she was 36th, driving a Mini with Arthur Olsen. Lynne started off competing in rallies in 1964, initially as a co-driver, then as a driver. She drove in the Southern Cross Rally at least five times, between 1966 and 1970, first as a co-driver, then as a driver. She won four Ladies’ awards, one for navigating, and three for driving, and her cars were a Volvo 122 and a Hillman. In 1970, she navigated for Sue Ransom in the Ampol Round Australia Rally. Lynne also competed in rallycross, but no results are forthcoming.
Megan Kirkham – raced Mazda cars almost exclusively between 1996 and 2002. She started much earlier, in the 1980s, in club events. Her car then was a Ford Escort. She competed in this car up to Production Championship level, before taking some time out for motherhood, and racing part-time along with her husband, Phil Kirkham. In 1996, she made a major comeback, and was one of the twelve women who took part in the Mazda 121 Challenge. For the following two seasons, she raced a Mazda 626 in Production events, including two runs in the three-hour Bathurst Showroom Showdown. Both times, she shared the car with Phil. Her best result was twelfth, in 1997. For 1999, the 626 was swapped for an MX-5, which she used in the GT Production championship, finshing fourth in Class S. A move to Class B in 2000 gave her a ninth place. The same car was good for sixth in Class E in 2001. She carried on in 2002, but the results are not forthcoming. After that, Megan retired again, and worked as the team manager for Phil and their son Declan. In 2012, she was set to do some more racing herself, with daughter Lyndsay, but it is unclear whether this happened.
Bronwynne Leech - racing in the Ssangyong Ute Racing Series in 2016-17, in New Zealand. She is driving a pink Ute, in support of breast cancer charities, having had the disease herself. Her team is named 4-D Cup, and will feature other drivers. She only began racing in 2016, initially in a Peugeot 206 that she raced as part of an all-female team in endurance events. Her co-drivers were Sheridan Broadbent and Wendy Metcalfe.
Bronte Michael – began racing in 2011, when she was only 16. She started out with a historic Datsun 120Y, which she used for two seasons in Queensland. Continuing in historics in 2012, she raced a Holden Torana and HQ, finishing twelfth in the Golden Holden One Hour race. 2013 saw her take part in the Suzuki Swift Racing Series, vying for a funded place in the championship in 2014. She was 19th overall. She also raced a Hyundai Excel in the Excel Cup, a series she returned to in 2014 for three races, finishing 29th, as well as some endurance events in the same vehicle. Mid-season, she did some rounds of the Production Championship in a Honda Integra, and had a best finish of eleventh, at her home track of Queensland.
Cheryl Parnell – raced a Mini in New Zealand in the late 1970s, for at least three seasons. No actual race results are forthcoming, but pictures exist of Cheryl alongside her Mini, which was sponsored by Unipart in 1976. She continued to race in 1977 and 1978, until the car was sold at some point.
Pat Peck – raced from about 1969 to 1973, normally in a Ford Falcon or Holden Torana. She drove in the big Bathurst races on three occasions, between 1971 and 1973. Her first attempt gave her a 29th place in a Torana, with Jan Holland. The two raced against each other in 1972, but neither finished. She did not finish in 1973, either. During the same time period, she drove both the Falcon and the Torana in the big yearly Sandown endurance race, but does not appear to have finished any of them, either. After this, she continued to race karts, and had some success at club level. She now runs a chain of garages.
Charlotte Poynting – raced for two different teams in Aussie Racing Cars in 2016. This was her debut season, and it was mostly a learning year, but she did manage to win one race, at Hampton Downs, and was fourth in another, at Queensland. Her cars were a Camaro and an Aurion. She was 28th in the championship. Prior to her switch to cars, she raced karts in Australia for five years.
Nicole Pretty – raced touring and stock cars in Australia in the 1990s. In 1998, she raced a Holden Commodore prepared by her family team. She took part in the FAI 1000 Classic event with her brother, Nathan, but they did not finish. In 1999, she did another major touring car race, the Bathurst V8 300. Again, sharing the Commodore with Nathan, she was fifth overall. That year, she did some more races in the SCS series, including one at Calder Park, for which she did not qualify. After that, she seems to fade from the scene, although the Pretty family remains involved in Australian circuit racing.
Melinda Price - Australian. She has completed five Bathurst 24 Hour races and jointly holds the record for the highest all-female team finish. She was 12th in the 1997 event, driving a Castrol Cougar with Kerryn Brewer. During the 1997 and 1998 seasons, the pair competed together on and off. In 1999, she drove in the Production category of V8 Supercars, using a K-Mart-sponsored Holden Vectra. She has raced in a number of saloon championships and her best result is second in the Winton 6 Hours with Steven Richards in 1991, her first year of competition. They were driving a Nissan Pulsar. She was also second in the 1996 Mazda 121 Challenge, an all-female championship. In 2016, she made a comeback, after seventeen years. She raced a classic Lotus 20/22 single-seater in the Phillip Island Classic series, finishing 21st in the championship. At the Ken Leigh 4-Hour Classic Enduro, she joined Team Brock and raced a Holden HQ Kingswood, but did not finish.
Gwenda Searle – raced production saloons in Australia in the 1990s. Her car in 1994 was a Suzuki Swift, and she was eighth in Class B of the Australian Production Car Championship. In 1995, she tried out a more powerful car, a Class C Toyota Celica, and a Toyota MR2 in the same class. She was driving for the New Woman magazine-sponsored Toyota team, and was second in Class C, with one win. That year, she shared a Celica with the Scots driver, Heather Baillie, in the Bathurst 12 Hours, but did not finish. Although she no longer races, she is still involved in motorsport, in development.
Caroline O’Shanesy – raced in the Bathurst 1000 three times, in 1973, 1975 and 1976. She drove a Mini for the first two attempts, finishing 26th and 27th. The third time, she drove a Fiat, but did not finish. She had been racing Minis on the Australian circuits since at least 1970, and was active in other touring car enduros in 1975, including the Sandown 250, which she did not finish. Caroline was also a rally driver, and remained active until at least 1989. In 1984, she was second in the Australian Rally Championship’s Production class, with Meg Davis, driving a Fiat Superbrava. She competed several times in the Rally des Femmes, a women-only event.
Helen Stig – raced in the Bathurst 12 Hours in 2007, as part of an all-female team in a Toyota Celica, with Amber Anderson and Danielle Argiro. The same year, she competed in the ThunderSports series, in a Toyota-powered car. She was 20th in the championship. This was her second year in ThunderSports, as she had driven the same car in 2006. Both seasons, she did particularly well in the AMRS 500 event, finishing third in both occasions, in the same car. She was still racing in 2015.
Alexandra Surplice - raced in Australian touring cars in the 1980s, usually in a Toyota. She made three Bathurst starts between 1980 and 1984. Her best result was 26th, in 1984. She also finished 28th in 1980, driving a Toyota Corolla with John Gates. In 1981 and 1982, she shared a Toyota Celica with Doug Clark for other Australian endurance races. Although their finishing record was patchy, they did manage a points finish at Oran Park in 1981.
Hayley Swanson - began competing in sprints in Australia in a Subaru Impreza WRX in 2009. She switched to Aussie Racing Cars in 2011, in a Holden Commodore and Toyota Aurion, but only managed one race in each. In 2012, her career really took off, and she contested a whole season of V8 Utes. It was a learning year, and she was 25th overall after 21 races. In 2013, she entered three Aussie Racing Cars events, in a Commodore. Away from the track, she is a model, and she entered the Australian motorsport-themed reality show “Supercar Showdown.” In 2014, she raced her Impreza in the Winton 300, although she does not appear to have finished. She also raced a Holden in at least some events. She returned to the Winton 300 in 2015, in the Impreza, but did not finish.
Gloria Taylor – raced saloons in the late 1960s and early 1970s. She took part in one Bathurst classic, the Hardie-Ferrodo 500 in 1970. She drove a MkI Ford Escort with Carole Corness, sponsored by the magazine Woman’s Day. They were 42nd overall. The year before, she had raced another Ford with another female co-driver, Pat Peck. They raced in the Datsun 3 Hours at Sandown, in a Falcon, and were listed as finishers. She is also known to have raced a Holden in Australian touring car events, in 1970 at least. She also drove in ladies’ races, often held at Oran Park, in cars belonging to her husband, Herb Taylor. She died in 1990.
Jane Taylor – raced at Bathurst, in the 12 Hour race, in 1992 and 1993. In 1992, she drove a Holden Commodore with Alf Grant and Peter Brierley, but did not finish. Sadly, her second attempt, in a Citroen BX, also ended in a non-finish. Her team-mates this time were Chris Wiles and Chris Clearihan. Jane may well have taken part in more races, but information is proving hard to track down. “Taylor” is the name of at least two racing or rallying families in Australia, and it is possible she is part of one of them.
Tracey Taylor – raced in the Bathurst 12 Hours in 1992, as part of an all-girl team with Michelle Callaghan and Melinda Price. They were 17th overall, fifth in class B. Their car was a Nissan Pulsar. Away from major saloon races, she was also involved in Formula Vee racing, and seems to have competed in New South Wales in the 1990s. Unfortunately, further details are proving hard to find.
Ann Thomson – driver from Queensland active in the late 1960s and early 1970s, beginning in 1966. She partnered Carole Corness in a Mini Cooper for the 1969 Hardie-Ferodo 500, but did not finish. Earlier, in 1968, she raced a Ford Cortina, a car she also rallied. Among her other cars were a Lotus Elan and a Holden Kingswood, which she drove in the 1970 Round Australia Rally. Later, she became more involved in the technical side of motorsport, acting as a timekeeper, and a Clerk of the Course for State-level rallies, in addition to serving on club committees. She is still active in her motor club to this day.
Midge Whiteman - drove in the Bathurst 500 race in 1967 and 1968, finishing both times. Her cars were a Morris 1100 and a Mini respectively. She was 36th in 1967, driving with Jane Richardson, and 41st in 1968 with Christine Gibson. Presumably, she entered other touring car races in Australia, but the results are not forthcoming.
Alexandra Whitley – Australian driver who races a Ute in New Zealand, as part of the SsangYong Actyon Ute series. The 2014-2015 season was her first in senior motorsport, after several years of karting. Despite a cautious start, by February, Alexandra was winning races. She was sixth overall, having been in contention for the title for part of the season. The following season, she added another win to her tally, as well as some more podiums. She will undertake her third Ssangyong season from 2016.
Natalie Willmington – driver from a motorsport family who competes in different disciplines in Australia. She first raced in the 2006 Production Touring Car Championship, in a Mitusbishi Magna. She was on the pace straight away, and was third at the end of the year. Sadly, she did not finish the AMRS 500 enduro. Her second season in the APTCC was another success, and she was second, driving a Ford Falcon. Back in the Magna, she was sixth in the AMRS 500, driving with Simon Morison. Since then, Natalie has competed in drag racing and won burnout competitions. She now supports her teenaged son in his own motorsport career.
(Picture from http://www.kartsportnews.com/)