Sidecar driver loves taking on the boys

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Team Pink . . Sidecar speedway driver Clare Hartnell and swinger Chris Chatfield compete at the Ronnie Tree Meeting at Oreti Speedway last month. PHOTO: TROYDEN FINDLAY, FADED PHOTOGRAPHY

Sidecar speedway racing grabbed Clare Hartnell’s attention after watching a Burt Munro Challenge.

The Mataura resident thought she would “give it a go” and she is now believed to be one of only two females in the world who races them.

“The best part is beating the boys and I love the thrill of it all,” she said.

Originally from the United Kingdom, Hartnell had ridden bikes since she was 10.

“Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to ride bikes.”

She said her parents were very supportive of her love of motoring and, unlike some other parents, found the crashes exciting.

Hartnell had been driving for four years and before she had her own bike was swinging in the passenger seat for four years.

She said races could get quite brutal and while some of the boys would stay away from crashing into a girl, for others it did not matter.

Chris Chatfield was Hartnell’s swinger this year until her engine blew up in a race last week.

Hartnell’s bike was a Yamaha SZR, which could get up to 100kmh on the corners and had no brakes.

Up to five bikes raced at once and Hartnell said the pair had achieved a couple of firsts this year.

“Speedway is the biggest buzz you can get.”

While the team name was Pink Team, it used to be Pink Ladies and this was still the name many people knew the team by, she said.

“There’s great support both on and off the track and it is like one big family.”

Hartnell said she hoped to head to the United Kingdom later in the year to race.