In the fast lane

Laura Byrnes is paving the way for female Speedway Racing. Picture: Matt Jelonek d416287
Laura Byrnes is paving the way for female Speedway Racing. Picture: Matt Jelonek d416287

At 19, she has already taken steps to achieving that goal, selected as one of the best 15 young talents in the country to take part in Speedway Australia’s Rising Star Program, the sole female from WA asked to take part and the only one of the 15 who drives a production sedan.

The selection means Byrnes will be a part of a yearlong mentorship program that will allow her to hone her skills and achieve her goals, the biggest of which is to pave the way for female drivers in a male dominated sport.

‘I find it a little hard to be taken seriously because I don’t fit the typical stereotype of a motorsport competitor, I don’t think a lot of people actually believe I race,’ she said.

‘There is also the unnecessary pressure that we still have to look attractive while racing, which I do not understand.

‘Many women also turn to scandalous photo shoots with their cars in order to gain attention and that comes from the nature of motorsport having ‘pit girls’ and ‘promo girls’.

‘I think it really sends the wrong message to the younger competitors, thinking that is what you need to do to gain publicity, or that that’s what females are meant to do within the sport.

‘The focus should be on our driving ability, not what we look like.’

In between competitions, with achievements such as being named the 2012/13 Motorplex Track Champion in her rookie season and captaining the junior Australian team for the 2011 Australasian Championships in 2011, Byrnes is fighting to not only raise her star in the sport but also those of other female competitors.

‘Ultimately, as cheesy as it sounds, my overall goal is to continue to race and to enjoy it and to not only continue in the sport through Production Sedans in the pursuit of a state or national title, but also lead the introduction of a new national division of Speedway racing called ‘Four cylinder sedans’ to WA,’ she said.

‘Another goal, and possibly the most important goal, would be for more recognition of the female competitors within speedway.

‘There are quite limited numbers of female competitors outside of junior sedans and I hope by working with other female competitor’s nationwide we’re able to boost our numbers and show the boys we’re just as competitive.’

Byrnes will be participating in the Production Sedan State Championships in Bunbury.