IT’S hard to picture a tougher sport for a woman to crack than drag racing.
Motorsports in general are almost exclusively male domains, but there’s something about super-charged engines tearing down a 400-metre straight that just screams testosterone.
Which makes Stephanie Huysmans’ achievements all the more remarkable.
The Spring Hill native has just completed her first full season in the NSW Track Championships for Drag Racing.
Racing in the V8 Modified Altered category, the 23-year-old finished sixth of 15 drivers in the class.
Huysmans’ car, a modified Model T Ford, was built from the ground up by her father Tony.
Her best time down the straight is 9.7seconds, which equates to an average of more than 212km/hour
It was Tony, who became involved in the sport more than 30 years ago, who first spiked Stephanie’s interest in the quarter mile.
“Tony started in the sport in 1977, and Stephanie has followed him,” proud mother Tracey said.
“He found her the car. He built it for her and modified it. It’s a family affair.”
Huysmans’ performance this season, impressive as it is, could have been even better.
She suffered a broken arm playing soccer 10 weeks ago and, consequently, had to forgo several rounds of the drag series as she recovered.
Nevertheless, the 2012 campaign has provided a solid base to launch what her mother believes could be a long and successful career on the bitumen.
“Stephanie would like to go further in the sport,” Tracey said.
“She has a variety of interests, but she seems to be really focused on her racing.”
Tracey believes that money, rather than gender, is the major obstacle in the way of achieving this.
“Of course it’s still a male-dominated sport,” she explained.
“But it always comes down to how many sponsors you can get and how much money you have.
“Stephanie is very lucky because we know people in the mechanical trades who can, and have, helped her out.”