Ladies of the quarter-mile
It might be a cliché that women are under-represented in motorsport, but when they do appear it is often a point of discussion.
So, the Jamaica Observer‘s weekly Auto magazine took the time out to speak with two of the several female drivers that took part in the most recent Drag Rivals event at Vernamfield, Clarendon.
The two ladies in focus are Dania McIntyre and Desli Gabriel.
For both, their journey to be behind the wheel competitively was a family affair.
“It started as a child. Daddy normally carried my brother to racing events, and then eventually Daddy retired from it, and my brother took over. He started to bring me. So every meet we were there, until I got an interest in it and I said, ‘You know, one day, one day I’m definitely going to be racing.’ And years after I’m here,” McIntyre told Auto.
For Gabriel, her interest in drag racing was fuelled by her husband.
“It has always been my passion. I always said it was something that I wanted to do. And then I met my spouse. He put the work in with me, and then we started it,” she said Gabriel.
Both women point to the fun and the adrenalin from the speed of racing down the quarter-mile as their attraction to the sport.
McIntyre plies her skill in the Super Street 14-second class and has been the runner-up for the last two meets in her Honda Civic, sporting something just a rare as her gender, a fully tuned D-series single camshaft motor. Many Honda competitors prefer and use the more powerful iconic B-series double overhead camshaft engine. Her personal best has been a 13.1-second run.
Gabriel, for the most recent meet, was in hired driver mode for her team, In The Streets Auto. Running in the Super Street 14, she has maintained her loyalty to the Subaru brand, currently campaigning a 2016 Levorg to a personal best of 14 seconds flat. She previously raced her own 2007 Subaru Impreza S-GT to 14.4 seconds.
“It’s really sometimes overwhelming to see how many persons actually come up to you because you’re out on track, as a female, in a very competitive and male-dominated sport,” said McIntyre.
While McIntyre does treasure the interactions with her female fans, many of whom look to her guidance as to how to join the sport, she does equally acknowledge her male fans.
“I’ve had women tell me their very proud to see me in the sport, that it’s good and they’re planning on coming into drag racing,” added Gabriel.
The two have nothing but encouragement for women like themselves who may have an interest in drag racing, or any form of motorsport.
“The other female drivers here have been so supportive, cheering me on, and I can actually see them at the sidelines when I’m up at the start line. There’s really good unity,” said Gabriel.
McIntyre stresses a no-fear attitude.
“Do not, and I repeat, do not be afraid of these men. They are not more than us. They’re just the same. We’re all humans and the same things they can do, females can do it too,” McIntyre charged.