START YOUR ENGINES
Never too young to be swept up by race fever
RENEE Gracie is pumped for her debut race in the Dunlop Series at the Castrol EDGE Townsville 400.
The 20- year- old competed in the Porsche Carrera Cup in 2013 and 2014 and her move to the Dunlop Series is predicted to be her first step towards one day racing full- time in the V8 Supercars series.
If she does, she will be the first woman to compete in the male- dominated sport.
“I enjoy this track and have had good results here so I have a little bit of confidence,” Gracie said.
THE city is ready to race with the Townsville 400 roaring into life for 2015 from today.
V8 Supercars fans yesterday gave the stars of the show – the drivers – a hearty welcome to the city, which many claim as their favourite stop on the racing calendar.
Fans clamoured for autographs at the Townsville 400 Super Welcome at Jezzine Barracks yesterday afternoon with the drivers signing posters, helmets, flags, model cars – and even a baby in a Ford onesie.
Undeterred by grey skies, more than 1000 people lined up to meet the drivers on the eve of the Castrol EDGE Townsville 400.
Signing actual babies is about the limit for me MARK WINTERBOTTOM
Dressed in a Ford baby onesie, Rosa- Leigh Hobson, 15 months, was placed on to the autograph table and signed by the Pepsi Max team.
Mark “Frosty” Winterbottom said he had signed some unusual things over the years.
“In this case, I signed the baby’s clothes, not the actual baby,” he said with a laugh.
“Signing actual babies is about the limit for me. But I have signed pregnant bellies and a prosthetic leg.
It’s awesome. This ( fan days) makes it.”
Fans lined the path as the drivers arrived in classic cars, cheering their favourite teams as they stepped on to the stage to sign autographs. There was a mix of racing and state pride on display, with fans dressed in their favourite V8 Supercars team colours and a splash of maroon.
For Tallis Wehrman, 8, the chance to meet Lee Holdsworth was a highlight.
“I am a mad Holden fan,” he said. “We go to the V8s every year.”
Michael Brown and his son MJae, 2, lined up to meet the Holden Racing Team.
“He ( MJae) came out a Holden kid,” Mr Brown said.
“I would be devastated if he one day told me he preferred Ford.”
The drivers signed autographs for close to an hour before leaving to prepare for the busy weekend ahead.
But fans made the most of the entertainment on offer, with kids going for speed on the super slide and the adults enjoying the live music.
Will Davison, of the Erebus Motorsport team, told the crowd he was looking forward to hitting the Reid Park track.
“The win in Perth was a highlight and a win here would be great,” he said.
Trailblazing female driver Renee Gracie, 20, said she was feeling confident going into the Dunlop Series.
Gracie is the first woman to complete a whole season of the series and hopes to one day be the first to race full time in the V8 Supercars Championships.
While she never set out to be a role model for young women hoping to pursue the sport, she is happy to be one.
“I never thought I would be that person in that leadership role but I’m happy people feel they can look up to me because I never had someone to look up to,” she said.
Gates open at Reid Park today from 6.30am with the Australian GT cars the first on rack from 7.10am.
More Townsville 400: Sport
Rosa Leigh Hobson, 1, gets an autograph from Mark “Frosty” Winterbottom yesterday.