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Karen Hay: Quickest and fastest female drag racer

16 June, 2014


Photo: Earl Edwards

Photo: Earl Edwards

On Sunday, April 6, the record for New Zealand’s quickest, and fastest, female was taken out by Karen Hay in her purpose-built 1927 Ford Model T roadster — powered by a twin-turbocharged 482ci big block Chev engine. The record was previously held by Faye Grant from 1990 with a longer wheelbase rear-engine dragster running a 6.629-second pass over the quarter-mile at 205.52 miles per hour.

Having already run 208 miles per hour in 2012, Karen ran 6.61 seconds at 206 miles per hour over the quarter mile to become both New Zealand’s fastest and quickest female in drag racing history. It’s a goal which Hay has been chasing since 2010 when the Hay Family Racing team purchased the car named ‘Evil II’ from the late Clive Davis. The mother-of-two started racing in 2002 after crewing for her father Lindsay for a couple of years and in 2010 she ran her first 6 second pass. The car was built by the late Warren Brogie in California, USA and has now become the world’s quickest and fastest Brogie-built roadster, adding to the excitement of the New Zealand record.

Photo: Earl Edwards

Photo: Earl Edwards

With the event at which Hay rewrote history being the Bay Rodders hosted Nostalgia Days at Fram Autolite Dragway, Meremere, the day meant a lot to Hay for multiple reasons.

Describing the day as the best day of her life, hays says: “I was hoping we were going to do it for many reasons this weekend. This meet is where my racing all started. Fram Autolite Dragway deserved to have me run the record on their track because their support has been unwavering for 12 years! I have lost two crew members along the way of this journey. I asked them in my cockpit just after my final burn out if you can help me out in any way boys, can we do it now just for Dad?”

Hay credits her success in drag racing to her parents, Lindsay and Shona Hay, and their involvement in hot rodding, jetboat racing, and drag racing.

Photo: Earl Edwards

Photo: Earl Edwards

“Hugging Dad on the return road with us both crying with tears of joy and relief is a moment I will never forget. I had always envisaged us doing it one day. What a man my father is. He is the hardest working person I know, who has the utmost integrity. He’d do anything for anyone, he never gives up, he shows kindness to many, and he and Mum have given me the opportunity that people can only dream of. The life I have been given by Mum and Dad, and the support and love I have from my family and friends, truly blows me away.”

This past season was challenging with the new set-up of turbo chargers with electronic fuel injection, but Hay always had faith in her Dad, and both father and daughter worked towards their shared dream and achieved it. With the assistance of Robert Ward of RIPS Racing, and Jason Cutelli of Infomotive (both based in Rotorua) the car consistently ran in the six second at 200 mph hour zone all weekend, getting faster and quicker on each run. It was a dream weekend, which also included running the rain-dated New Zealand Nationals final on the Saturday and winning the competition class, as well as resetting the record for the car classification of AA/Altered. Hay and the team are already talking about getting the car to run even faster and quicker next year.

Taipan – surpassing interest

“It’s merely a passing interest,” insists Selby — despite owning three variants of the classic VW Beetle, including an unusual VW van that was sold as a body kit for a Subaru. In his defence he points to a 1961 Ford Thunderbird, a car that he converted to right-hand drive. However, on the VW side of the ledger, since he opened Allison Autos in Whanganui 27 years ago, Selby has built 15 VW-powered Formula First cars, followed by a beach buggy, restored a derelict Karmann Ghia, and hot-rodded a common or garden Beetle into something that has to be seen to be believed. As speed is not something generally associated with classic VWs, though, Selby is still waiting for this particular modification to catch on amongst the hot rod faithful.

Travelling companion

It’s easy to see why the Morris Minor Traveller was one of the best-loved variants of the Morris Minor. Introduced in 1953, it was equipped with the same independent torsion bar front suspension, drum brakes, and rack and pinion steering as its saloon sibling but, with their foldable rear seat increasing versatility, many Travellers were used as trade vehicles, says Derek Goddard. Derek and Gail Goddard, the owners of this superbly restored example, have run Morris Minors since before they were married in 1974.
“Our honeymoon vehicle was a blue Morris Minor van — it was a rust bucket,” says Derek.