As a late-starter to rallying, Brogo’s Lynda Leigh said taking up the sport was jokingly a “mid life crisis”.
But it is one she wants to share with other women as more opportunities open up for female racers.
“I really enjoyed watching the Rally of Canberra since I moved there from Sydney in the 90s, but never did I think for a moment I’d compete or own my own rally car,” she says with a laugh.
She says it’s a chance she may not have got when she was younger – as it was considered “unfeminine” and her parents were against.
“Just look pretty and let someone else do it,” she recalls her Dad telling her of learning car maintenance.
However, her partner David Stephens has a long history in the sport including national, NSW and ACT championship wins and was highly supportive of her getting behind the wheel.
“David takes his rallying seriously and I was honoured to be asked to be his co-driver – in my first year in the ‘silly seat’, we won the 2015 NSW Pace note series which wasn’t a bad start!”
Stephens drives a Mitsubishi Evo, while Leigh is the proud owner of a bright orange Datsun she has dubbed “Cumquat”.
Leigh’s first taste behind the wheel included a runner-up spot in the 2016 ACT Novice series where the podium was all-women with Kim Day in first and Anneke Ferguson third.
When the Bega Valley Rally returned, the natural choice was to enter two cars.
“David has competed on the famous Upper Cobargo and Buckajo Roads since the 70s and he often stated he hoped I'd get a chance myself,” Leigh said.
“Those roads are well known to rally drivers … and I was certainly proud to run these fantastic roads.”
Leigh says she is still quite new to the sport and couldn’t really compete with her partner, or some of the other local drivers, but had a great time.
“David beat me, Kim beat me, heck almost everyone beat me but the secret of rallying is ‘to finish first, first you must finish’,” she said.
“I'm always happy to finish the event - that in it's itself is an achievement.”
Her co-driver, Moruya apprentice mechanic Maisie Place, 17, is now keen to compete herself and will contest the Rallye Des Femmes, Australia's premiere lady drivers event in October this year and then drive herself in next year’s Valley Rally. .
“I'm thrilled to give her that opportunity,” Leigh said. “With Molly Taylor winning the Australian Rally Championship last year, there's never been a better time for women and girls to get involved.
“I love the community and camaraderie of rally sport and want to share the passion.”
“As for next year's Bega rally, we will be back for sure and I look forward to competing against Maisie,” she said.