Home Australia Maisie knew what she wanted to be when she was six. She thought it might not be possible because of her gender

Maisie knew what she wanted to be when she was six. She thought it might not be possible because of her gender

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A young woman sitting in the driver's seat of a racing car.

In the driver’s seat of his silver RX8 car, helmet on, engine revving on the grid, any spectator would not know if Maisie Place was a man or a women.

When the flag falls, his car, nicknamed “Frankie”, drives around the track door to door with the rest of the cars, usually all driven by men.

This long Easter weekend, Place will become the first woman to run a garage at the Bathurst 6 Hour endurance race.

It’s something the 23-year-old never thought would happen when she was a young woman captivated by motorsports.

A young Maisie Place behind the wheel of a racing car would begin an obsession that would last her entire life.(Supplied: Maisie Place)

Place honed his driving skills as a young man on his parents’ property near Moruya, on the New South Wales south coast.

“The rule was always: you fix the cars yourself and then you can drive them as much as you want,” he says.

“We spent our childhood destroying cars in a paddock and then repairing them ourselves.”

A young woman looks at the engine of a car with the hood raised.

Place fell in love with motorsports as a child.(ABC South East New South Wales: James Tugwell)

I attended race days at the Moruya circuit, where the fast, loud laps had an almost hypnotic effect.

She says the race track It was where he first thought “I want to do that.”

“But I didn’t really think girls could get involved in this. I never saw racers or mechanics, so I thought, ‘Oh, that’s not something I can do.'”

Motorsports driver Maisie Place in her racing suit in her garage in Moruya.

Place is the only female driver in the RX8 Cup and just completed her 100th start.(ABC South East New South Wales: James Tugwell)

From mechanic to driver

Frankie, short for Frankenstein because the car is a combination of parts from many different vehicles, is one of several cars she built herself at the mechanic shop she now operates near Moruya.

His hands are cared for with grit and motor oil.

“Every day we revolve around cars,” he says.

A woman's hands covered in black grease and motor oil.

Hands covered in engine oil and grease are part of a normal work day for Ms. Place.(ABC South East New South Wales: James Tugwell)

Place joined the Australian Motor Racing Series’ RX8 Cup, a series exclusively between RX8 model cars, when she was 18 years old and had “absolutely no racing experience”, expecting to encounter resistance due to her gender.

Instead, she was judged on her driving ability.

Place is the only female driver in the cup and has completed 100 starts.

A young woman looks out the wheel arch of a racing car.

Place has built about 10 different cars and says all it takes is “some basic mechanical knowledge.”(ABC South East New South Wales: James Tugwell)

She is the series ambassador, won the 2022 Coral Taylor Award, which recognizes an outstanding woman in motorsport, and now leads a four-car team in the series.

She races one car and rents three to other Cup drivers, doing mechanical work. in the four cars between races.

A man puts racing stripes on the hood of a car.

Brien Place wanted his children to pursue their dreams and not see anything as a limitation.(ABC South East New South Wales: James Tugwell)

Her father, Brien Place, helps prepare the cars for big race days, but what he likes most is watching his daughter on the track.

“She’s really living my dream. Doing everything I wanted to do when I was her age,” he says.

“She’s very, very respected on the gridiron. She stands her ground.”

A man is in a mechanical workshop.

Ric Shaw says Place is renowned for her sporting spirit and can often be found changing competitors’ gearboxes or helping with their cars.(ABC News: Adam Griffiths)

Taking on Bathurst

RX8 Cup founder Ric Shaw says Ms Place races The Bathurst 6 Hour garage over the Easter long weekend with Frankie driven by New Zealand racers is “huge”.

“For a 23-year-old woman to own and run her own racing team in Bathurst, and it’s a national event, is just unheard of,” she says.

In the foreground, a woman fixes a car with mechanic tools.

Shaw says Place is a talented motor mechanic, a profession he says doesn’t attract many women.(ABC South East New South Wales: James Tugwell)

When she joined the RX8 Cup, Shaw described her as “coming on the scene like a bomb going off because she’s such an individual.”

“She’s a jack of all trades,” he says.

It led to the establishment of a women’s category race.

Shaw took Place with him to work on his car when he raced the Nürburgring 24 Hours in Germany. — considered one of the toughest motorsports tracks in the world.

“When I realized Maisie’s motorsport aptitude as a mechanic and just problem-solving, I thought, ‘She’s got to come,’” he says.

Two women taking a selfie with a mobile phone.

Maisie Place taking a selfie with a fan in her garage in Moruya.(ABC South East New South Wales: James Tugwell)

Proving that girls can drive

Three years ago, in an interview, Place was asked what his future dreams were..

“I wanted to be a team owner, go to the Nürburgring and have my own workshop,” she says.

“By the time I turned 23, I had already done all that. Everything from now on is a plus.

“For these girls to say, ‘I’ve watched you run for years. You’re such an inspiration.’ It doesn’t seem real.

“To go from thinking I would never be able to achieve it and now achieve so much more than I ever thought I would, it’s incredible.”

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