Saturday, April 20, 2024

Revved up to create history


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Shannon Kirton’s interest in motor racing began from as early as age eight. Born into a family in which everyone except her mother was actively involved in racing, it was no wonder this 23-year-old married mum of one-year-old baby girl Danica jumped into the fray. Speaking to EASY about her involvement in a discipline that is traditionally regarded a man’s sport, Kirton said: “My passion for racing began from a very early age. My father used to take part in the then popular June rallies. My sister used to navigate for my eldest brother Sean Gibbs in the 4 x 4 rallies before he sold the truck and turned his attention to circuit racing at Bushy Park.  “When my youngest brother came of age and started to race, I could not be left out. My love for circuit racing was ignited as I watched my older brother Sean and good family friend Winston Grecia dicing in and out at racing at Bushy Park on a number of occasions. “Then when my other brother Tristan came of age, he took over Grecia’s old Datsun, which was eventually passed down to me when I came of age and wanted to race. So you could say racing was always in my veins.”How does this young woman feel about rubbing shoulders with her male competitors? “I raced in both the Motoring Club, the Barbados Rally Club, at Vaucluse raceway and now at the Barbados Auto Racing League (BARL). “The first time I competed was at Vaucluse. It was the thrill of a lifetime for me and a dream come true and when it finally happened, I knew there was no turning back. “My most exciting race at Vaucluse was against Matthew Staffner in a Toyota Corolla. I remember seeing when he spun out and I tried to take advantage of his mishap by putting the pedal to the metal, but he still managed to beat me to the finish line by a mere second . . . it was that close. That was an experience words cannot describe. I was simply ecstatic and couldn’t wait to do it again.” With the closure of Vaucluse, Kirton then turned her attention to Bushy Park. “I would have to say everyone welcomed me with open arms. I was very nervous at first! Having seen guys rubbing fenders and doors and bouncing each other off the track made me somewhat apprehensive and nervous. But once I got used to the fact that everybody was not there to kill me, I eventually settled down,” Kirton said with a chuckle.  Of her six races at Bushy Park to date, she is yet to take the elusive chequered flag. “A number of niggling problems have prevented me from doing as well as I would like. So far I have only managed to complete one race, in which, unfortunately, I finished last. However, I am hoping for better results when the new engine is fitted.” Having started racing in Rezult Group 1B, Kirton could easily find herself moving up a notch to Group 2A with the extra power of her new engine. “I am not worried; in fact, I am looking forward to the new challenge Group 2 will pose.”  Kirton now has her eyes on creating motor racing history in 2011. “I am making plans to become the first Barbadian female driver to take part in Sol Rally Barbados next year; however, I would love to see a lot more ladies getting involved in motor sport.  It is not a man’s sport, it is called motor sport. I am determined to prove people wrong . . . those who think this is only a sport men can be successful in.” Kirton is expected to be in action today when the BARL hosts its second event for the 2010 racing season.


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