SHE MAY NOT LOOK LIKE YOUR TYPICAL PETROLHEAD BUT THIS SOUTHPORT WOMAN FEELS THE NEED FOR SPEED
“I’VE BEEN A VOLUNTEER AT THE INDY, THEN THE GOLD COAST 600 SINCE THE FIRST EVENT IN 1991.”
I’m Melbourne born and bred. I grew up in Brighton, the eldest of four children and we had a very happy childhood. always had an interest in sewing. My mother was a tailoress and both my grandmothers were sewers. When I finished school, I wanted to work in costuming and wardrobe in the theatre but my parents were very old fashioned and didn’t want their daughter going anywhere near the theatre, so I went into bookkeeping and accounting.
I used to moonlight in the theatre and performing arts though, helping out in costuming at night and working as a bookkeeper by day.
I met my husband when I was working as a temp accounting machine operator. They were really the forerunners to computers and I’d go into offices as a trained operator to help out when they were busy or to fill in for people who were away. My husband was Italian, from Rome, and I was in his office for about a month. We eventually got married and had three children. We moved to the Gold Coast in 1981. For me, it was about the weather — the Melbourne weather was unbearable to me. We’d been to the Gold Coast on holidays and we didn’t want the children to have the closed-in existence they were having in Melbourne.
It didn’t take long to assimilate. I was a stay-at-home mum for a time but when the children were a little older, I saw an ad calling for volunteers to help out with wardrobe for the first show that was going to be opening at the Gold Coast Arts Centre.
I had experience with that and I thought I really should help, so I volunteered. I can’t remember the exact date but I think the show was Jesus Christ Superstar — or that was one of the first ones. My volunteering led to casual employment in wardrobe at the Arts Centre for the next 13 years.
I suppose that led to other volunteering too. I’ve been a volunteer at the Indy, then the Gold Coast 600 since the first event in 1991.
I’d always had a thing for motorsports. When I was young, friends took me to a motor racing event at Albert Park in Melbourne. In those days we sat on hay bales and there were no barrier fences ... imagine that. But I was hooked. I just loved it. I think it was just the combination of drivers and machines at high speed.
When the Indy car racing was coming to Surfers Paradise, I applied to be a volunteer. There was a lot of criticism of the event at the time but I thought it could only be a good thing for the Gold Coast.
I was a grandstand usher for the first one, but after that they put me in the media centre and that’s where I’ve been ever since.
It’s always a very exciting time and I’ve got to know people over the years.
I’ve only missed one year — 1995, the year my husband passed away.
He came along to the first Indy and he met the senior Andretti from the Andretti family. He really enjoyed that.
The Indy really got me into volunteering at the Super Cars and other motorsport events too. I’ve been a volunteer at Bathurst for the past 17 years. I’ve been up to Townsville with the Super Cars for eight years, Sydney Olympic Park for seven years and I’ve done Darwin too for five years.
There’s a group of us and when an event comes up, we see who can go and we travel together and share expenses.
We’ve had some fun over the years. We stay with a resident at Bathurst now but we used to camp. Some years we’ve been in tents; others in caravans.
A couple of years there our tents were shredded by terrible weather.
Other years I remember we’ve woken to ice all over the cars and another year I remember losing a shoe in the mud between the tent and the shower block.
Over the years people would never have suspected I was a petrolhead, especially when I was working in the theatre, but I just enjoy the excitement of the racing. Some events you get better views than others but for me, it’s just the combination of speed, driver and mechanics. I always look forward to the Gold Coast Super Cars. I think the whole event is just so good for the Coast.
Volunteering has been a big part of my life. It takes me out of my comfort zone and I can only encourage others to do the same.