Street Machine - - Contents -

WE MET Dani Richard­son and Smokey Two, a Beat The Heat BA XR8 Ford sedan, while rac­ing at the Ararat Hill­climb. Dani is a for­mer youth worker and high-school teacher who is now em­ployed in Vic­to­rian Emer­gency Ser­vices. She’s keen to make a pos­i­tive im­pact in her lo­cal com­mu­nity through the Beat The Heat pro­gram, which helps coun­try-based young folk gain life skills by help­ing out with a fleet of track-prepped rides – some of which they also get to race.

Tell us more about Beat The Heat.

As vol­un­teers from emer­gency ser­vices, we use our Beat The Heat race cars to show young peo­ple that we’re ap­proach­able. They can link with us to vol­un­teer on the cars and also com­pete in them, there­fore gain­ing skills that come from work­ing on cars, in­clud­ing per­sonal skills and a sense of com­mu­nity, which all trans­fer into find­ing jobs.

How’d you get into BTH?

In 2012, I learnt about the his­tory and re­alised it was a re­ally cool pro­gram. I then helped to get the BTH cars out into the com­mu­nity, and now com­pete in them. I learnt how to drag race in March thanks to the West­ern Aus­tralian BTH team. I had an ab­so­lute ball; my first pass in their V8 VE Com­modore was an 11.68-sec­ond quar­ter-mile, with my best be­ing [email protected] There’s no turn­ing back now – I love it! I’ve since taken Smokey Two out of stor­age and had a team of vol­un­teers bring it up to scratch. I then com­peted in the June and July Ararat Hill­climbs; they’re good fun with lots of chal­lenges in win­ter: sleet, hail, rain, black ice and kan­ga­roos! And I will drag race Smokey Two for the first time this Satur­day.

Tell us about Smokey Two.

It’s an ex-ford test mule BA XR8 sedan built from AU, BA and BF com­po­nents with a Her­rod Per­for­mance-built 290kw en­gine, which con­sis­tently ran mid-12s seven years ago. That’s one of over eight cur­rent BTHVIC cars of dif­fer­ent makes and models, all of which were do­nated, and none are ex-po­lice ve­hi­cles. They’re main­tained by vol­un­teers and young peo­ple from 12 to 25 years old, who are su­per­vised by qual­i­fied me­chan­ics, so it’s like a men­tor­ing ar­range­ment. They do stuff like strip the car to put a rollcage in, de­tail­ing be­fore an event, wheel changes and all that sort of thing. We’ve seen huge syn­er­gies be­tween car-head youth and th­ese cars since we’ve rein­tro­duced them into the ru­ral west­ern Vic­to­ria events over the past two years.

What events does BTH do?

Drag rac­ing, hill­climbs, mo­torkhanas, and we’re work­ing with AASA to see if we can do a sprint event. We’re ac­tu­ally the only BTH team in the world to have ‘Deputy’ cars, which are pri­vately owned or com­mu­nity-do­nated four-cylin­ders that our youth crew can mod­ify, main­tain and race at lo­cal CAMS and AASA events. To drag race, you need to be over 18 years old, so we’re look­ing to have club cars that young peo­ple can com­pete in, and are main­tained by them and the club.

I hear you have your own grudge match lined up!

Jessie Holmes, the CEO of Yar­ri­ambi­ack Shire Coun­cil, pub­licly chal­lenged me to win my ti­tle of Fastest Lady at Wim­mera Off-street Drag Rac­ing Club’s mo­torkhana. She’s keen to have a go as a way of show­ing her sup­port for com­mu­nity mo­tor­sport. First, we’ll do some up­skilling for her, then get her out at the mo­torkhana!


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