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.

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