Drag racer against the clock
Six years ago Sue Gray asked friends over a quiet drink what it would take to drive a car at 150 miles an hour (240kmh).
Dubbed the ‘‘Mad Cow’’, she is now clocking up speeds of 214 kmh but she hasn’t long before her dream may come to a screeching halt.
Gray has had multiple back surgeries and has opted to have one last back operation which will involve surgeons going through her abdomen. It could leave the Tawa resident wheelchair bound.
With time on the clock, she and partner Mark Hawken are tirelessly fine tuning equipment and nit-picking driving technique before the much-needed surgery.
The only thing is Gray’s Ford Maverick isn’t capable of reaching 240kmh. However, it has potential to race a quarter mile track in under nine seconds; a feat few men and women have achieved.
The Tawa racing duo have been involved with the New Zealand Drag Racing Association for several years.
Despite the camaraderie, the male-dominated racing scene wasn’t easy to break into, Gray said.
‘‘In the early days, the guys were angry that I wasn’t finishing the quarter mile in 10.99 seconds in the Super Sedan class.
‘‘They tried kicking me out of the class, and have since rewritten the rule book that states the car has to be capable of doing a 10.99. Back then, the car was capable but I wasn’t - that’s changed now.’’
Under the hood is a 383 cubic inch Dart engine and Gray is consistently making 10 second quarter mile passes and pushing around 214 kmh.
While her wheelstands and smokey burnouts are crowd pleasers, Gray likes to focus on her pre-race routine.
‘‘I have pancakes with maple syrup. You can’t over think the preparation because you will wind yourself up.’’
Hawken is in charge of the finer details of the car. ‘‘I’m probably more stressed than she is; I can’t eat, mate.’’
In his words, Gray is a ‘‘fish’s fart away’’ from making a quarter mile in nine seconds, and he expected her to reach that target in the 2018 season.
Sue Gray performs a wheelstand at the Masterton Motorplex.