Name: Laura Byrnes
Pursuit: I race in the Motorsport discipline of Speedway.
My name is Laura Byrnes, I’m a 20 year old competitor in the Motorsport discipline of Speedway, with over nine years experience. I’m part of the WA family based team ‘Red Shamrock Racing’. I’m quite small compared to the average Australian, as I was born prematurely, making me around 150cm tall (which is the average sizeof a 12 year old) I don’t see it as a disadvantage though, it’s just who I am! And in my chosen sport, it’s a competitive edge. I’m determined to break down the stereotype of women within motorsport, and to show we’re just as competitive as our male counterparts.
When did you start?
I started at the age of 11 in Junior Sedans while living in the rural town of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Western Australia. I chose to race in Speedway after hearing an announcement that my local club was looking for more junior drivers. I tried many sports as I was growing up. Karate, jazz dancing, ballet and gymnastics but it was only when I was asked to leave my basketball team, because of my height, that I realised I needed to find the right sport for me, and make it mine. Being a female in a male dominated sport is one battle, but being a small female in a male dominated sport is another. I didn’t let it bring me down, or stop me from chasing my dreams. My dad always told me, that it doesn’t matter how small you are, when you’re in the racing seat, you’re as big as everyone else. This has always stuck with me, from my first race meeting in junior sedans, to now racing in the senior divisions, including people three times my age.
Career highlight or biggest achievement?
Being chosen as a 2014 Speedway Australia Rising Star, and being mentored on the ways and means to reach my goals within the sport – this included an intensive camp at the Australian Institute of Sport. I was also captain of Team Australia in the Junior Sedan I would also have to say that simply racing against men nearly three times my age with much greater experience, and competing side-by-side, or even beating, is definitely something I am proud of – to show that women, and young women especially, are just as competitive as the males, and a career in motorsport can be as equally successful.
What is your dream?
Very generally it would be to constantly exceed peoples expectations, as well as my own. But specifically I’m training and practicing to hopefully take home a state or national title. I want to be the first female to take such honours in Production Sedans. My team, Red Shamrock Racing, is also looking into possibly changing divisions into the faster and more competitive division of ‘Late Models’ which is more recognised. This will be a major change and may involve training in America to ensure I’m equipped for the different style of racing, but would also rely on increased sponsorship due to their expense. As long as I’m continuing to race, and can hopefully inspire others to make the jump into Speedway motorsport – I’m happy!
Who or what have inspired you?
Who's your hero?
My hero would be the wonderful man I call my dad. When I was younger I always thought he was a superhero because there seemed to be nothing he couldn’t do, from removing splinters, renovating a house and building a tree house, to using the sewing machine (although I’m sure he will deny that), the best bacon and eggs in existence and doing wheelies on his dirt bike. Now I realise that in fact he is not a superhero – but a super human, from raising me in my teenage years, listening to my troubles, and guiding me in my speedway career. He some how still manages to cook me the best bacon and eggs while being the sole mechanic on my race car and taking me to my competitions all the while having a full time job. I could not be grateful enough for love and support he has given me, and I know without his dedication I wouldn’t be where I am today, as a racer, and a person.
Any other special talents?
I’m actually pretty good at hula hooping! Or at least I think I am… Otherwise I’ve been told I make a pretty good prawn and chicken laksa dish.
I like a bit of everything! From Linkin Park to Flume, Blink-182, Chet Faker, Taylor Swift, Darwin Deez, Macklemore, Panic at the Disco, Skrillex, Bluejuice and Nicki Minaj.
Little bit sad, but I do love the Titanic! I fell in love with the costuming.
Favourite TV Show?
Either American Horror Story or Supernatural. I love a good scare!
Definitely anything pasta based - gnocchi is my weakness.
How the grant will help you/how will you use the money?
It will act as a major catalyst of change, starting with being able to travel further around WA to gain more experience amongst my competitors, and on a variety of tracks and conditions. This will be advantageous due to being prepared for the track at the state and national title, as well as having experience racing amongst the best. With the increase in race meetings attended, means the car and features such as the engine and suspension will be subject to more use and wear. This will require regular equipment replacement and even upgrades to more superior parts in the aim to increase their lifespan and competitiveness. Travelling further means I can generate more positive publicity for women within motorsport. I wish to show success can be through determination and hard work, not through the objectifying of women within motorsport. Too often women in motorsport are stereotyped, and I wish to prove that women are just as, or even more competitive as our male counterparts.
Last words: Quote or Motto you live by?
Always do what you are afraid to do - overcoming fear is the first step to success.