Drag racing gran
IT'S OFFICIAL, Ipswich is home to Australia's fastest grandma ... just don't call her that.
After tearing down the Willowbank drag racing quarter-mile in 5.658 seconds with a top speed of 256mph (412kmh) last Saturday, Christine Steffens became the first woman in Australia to earn a nitro-funnycar licence.
It was a red letter day for the mother and grandmother-of-two who now earns the right to compete in the fastest class of drag racing in Australia - and she can't wait to get started.
Steffens said she could hardly control her excitement when she was told she had topped the minimum required speed of 240mph (386 kmh). "Apparently I had a party all on my own," Steffens said of the magic moment.
"There are officials in the braking area ... and when I got out of the roof, one guy came up to me and said '256'.
"Well I just punched the air and he high-fived me, they were all pretty excited."
Not that the day went perfectly to plan.
It took Christine and her team of mechanics, led by husband Ricky, three runs of the Willowbank track to achieve the required mark.
The Glenore Grove accountant said a new seat installed in the drag car created some unforseen issues during the first two runs.
"I fluffed the first run," Steffens said. "The new seat made my vision almost impossible, I couldn't see anywhere."
Steffens said the new seat had her sitting higher in the cockpit of the vehicle which in turn caused her head to vibrate during acceleration.
After two disappointing runs, Steffens then decided to abandon one layer of clothing, her cool suit, allowing her to sit lower in the seat and improve her vision.
The trick worked and the resulting run had the Steffens clan and the Willowbank crowd on their feet.
"It was a feel-good moment for everybody and as long as I didn't look at the crowd, I was fine," Steffens said of the moment Willowbank CEO Steve Bettes paraded her in front of the grandstand.
"It's a real sense of accomplishment at being able to complete something that isn't easy."
For husband Ricky, himself a veteran of the drag racing circuit, Christine's shot at the nitro-funnycar class has meant a change in his own focus.
Now paying the role of chief mechanic, Ricky is more than happy to entrust the driving to Christine and says there is no reason she can't beat the men at their own game.
"Either you can drive them or you can't but you have to crawl before you walk," Steffens said when questioned about how women can perform in the traditionally male-dominated sport. "She's had a lot of experience driving other cars before she got into this car.
"She still has to do a few more laps though before she really gets used to it because the faster you go, the harder they are to drive.
"We've only touched the tip of the iceberg. The car is capable of running a four-second pass at over 300mph (482kmh)."
The Steffens are likely to head west to Perth for the next round of the Australian National Drag Racing Series where Christine hopes to "dent a few egos" along the way.