> LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA
WE MET Kristin Cline cruising around the pits at Bonneville Speed Week, having just qualified for an official racing licence after making a 150mph+ run in a friend’s ’55 Studebaker. She’s no stranger to spanners or Studebakers, having made her 1000km trip up to the salt in a Stude she built herself.
How did it feel to go over 150mph?
It was amazing! People always talk about ‘salt fever’, and I always felt like I had it just from coming out to spectate, but now that I’ve driven it’s a different level. Turning off from my first run I was already thinking: “I have to go faster!”
How did you get into the driver’s seat of a land speed Studebaker?
I took a photo a while back with another Stude on the salt, and Jerry, who owns the one I raced, saw the photo on the internet and found out what an enthusiast I was and offered me an open seat. He didn’t have to ask twice! I’ve been working my way through the rookie runs and now I’ve got a licence for racing over 150mph. It’s incredible because this is the first step for me towards building my own salt flats racer.
What about your own Stude?
It’s a 1955 Studebaker Champion. I bought it 10 years ago having never even changed a tyre. It was my daily driver for about five years. It’s got a small-block 350 Chevy, which has been a reliable powerplant and easy to learn to wrench on. The engine is hopped-up with World heads, Edelbrock manifold and carb, headers and a Lunati cam.
That’s a decent upgrade!
I just finished the engine rebuild; it was a two-year task! All along, every job on my Studebaker has been a chance to learn. Having just completed the rebuild, it’s awesome to feel my skillset gaining and being confident I can fix whatever breaks. My husband Ethan teaches engines and mechanics at a local college, and he’s a great resource in the garage, but knows to keep his hands off my Stude! I even overcame my feeling that cams were voodoo and chose the new one myself [laughs].
Has that hands-on experience changed the way you look at the car scene?
Right after I first got the car on the road, I drove across the desert to attend Viva Las Vegas. I was so disappointed that I didn’t find more girls who owned classic cars or worked on car projects themselves. I wanted more females to enjoy the experience I’d had.
How have you worked towards that?
The first place I looked was towards car magazines, where I’d learnt so much, but none of the writers were female. I wanted to start writing and launched a blog called Grease Girl. It’s been great because I felt like I could get away with asking the ‘dumb questions’ that guys were scared to ask [laughs]. I started it around seven years ago, and it’s opened lots of doors to both the car and journalism industries. Car life and writing captivated me so much I switched from heading into medicine to doing cars full-time. I’m now the managing editor for Driving
The goal is to open up my own garage to help create a space that would be good for girls to learn about cars, hopefully in the next five years. I also need to make sure I’ll always be faster than my husband!
Girls — wanna be famous? Send pics, car details and contact details to: Iron Maiden, Street Machine, Locked Bag 12, Oakleigh, Vic 3166. Or email: streetmachine@ bauer-media.com.au.