Women in motorsport? Speak to anyone in drag racing and it’s not even a topic for discussion.
That’s because the straight-ahead discipline left behind gender preconceptions and prejudice years ago. Female racers thrive on an equal footing in this arena, as a statistic from a recent round of the Motorsport UK British Drag Racing Championship at Santa Pod Raceway proves: one in seven of the entries were driven by women, and indeed it was a standout young woman who stamped her mark on the meeting in historic fashion.
At just 22, Annie Wallace made her Pro Modified class debut at the Pod in a Ford Mustang-based 3000bhp naturally aspirated 14-litre V8 monster boosted with injections of nitrous oxide.
Her performance was notable on a couple of counts. First, even though female participation is common, she was only the second British woman to join the ranks of the fastest ‘door-slammer’ class in drag racing. Second, she won – in her first race in anything for three years.
Look, no parachute
Drag racing tends to be a family affair, which explains why it’s such a friendly and tight-knit community, and Wallace is no exception. She and her sister Bonnie raced junior dragsters as children, before Annie graduated to her brother Bobby’s Sportsman Ford Pop as a teenager. She stepped back from driving to help crew Bobby in Pro Mods, testing occasionally in the family’s second Mustang-bodied beast – but returned to racing in July with style.
Did Wallace play herself in? Not quite. Her first job was to complete a mandatory observed run to earn her Pro Mod race licence, making a quarter-mile pass in 6.95sec at 200mph – before her car’s parachutes failed to deploy. A dusty excursion into the field beyond the track’s half-mile shutdown stretch thankfully left no damage to either her or the Mustang. A tad disconcerting? You might think so, but drag racers are a tough breed.