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Women in Western Australian Motor Sport.

posted May 10, 2015, 6:35 PM by Rod Lisson   [ updated May 10, 2015, 6:43 PM ]
Story by Rick Henderson.

Here in Western Australia we are often the forgotten state and the talent that we have here is generally overlooked. Talking to drivers of Formula Fords, Tayla Dicker, Formula Vees, Kathy Lisson, Steph Wolfgram and April Welsh, Street Cars, Maggie Waters and others in the Historic Racing categories it is apparent that these are women drivers who deserve recognition.


Steph Wolfgram                        Kathy Lisson    April Welsh

  


We start with 22 year old Stephanie (Steph) Wolfgram, who started competing in a 1200cc Formula Vee in 2014 and has enjoyed every minute of her time in the hot seat, in spite of a few excursions off the track. She is encouraged by her partner and is assisted by Ross Roberts who has high expectations of Steph. Although she describes herself as a “Girlie Girl” she also admits to being a completely mad motor head. Steph not only has a talent for driving fast cars fast, but has model looks and has even appeared in TV commercials and the fact that it’s a race day doesn’t diminish her appetite for a certain “fast food”


 

Don’t let the looks and fun loving attitude fool anyone as this is a strong minded, determined young lady. She was influenced by her older brother and by her Grandfather who took the two of them to the speedway and V8's when they were growing up.

Steph’s first car was a Ford Laser which was written off....but she wouldn’t go into details!!! Now the owner of a Nissan Skyline, Steph has been throwing it around the track at Barbagallo’s in Drift practice sessions and is soon to be taking part in the upcoming Drift battles. Steph also owns a Mitsubishi Evo 8, so maybe that will be going round the track too.

Steph works in a high profile job in the CBD in one of the major banks and is grateful to them for allowing her time off for tuning days. She wants to gain more experience in the 1200 Formula Vee before moving into something (unstated) with more power, but did hint that possibly she would like to get into the Street Car racing.

 

Next, and probably the most experienced of our three lady Formula Vee drivers, is Kathy Lisson. Kathy, is the Office Administrator for her husband’s business, Litech System P/L, who also sponsor her car and is a lady of many talents, especially well known in Formula Vee circles for her Bunnings Sausage Sizzle funds raising antics. With three grown children and determined not to become a Vee widow and seeing how much fun Rod was having racing his 1200 Vee, Kathy decided that she should have a go too, so while Rod moved up to the 1600 class, Kathy took to the track in the 1200, and surprise, surprise, Kathy’s first car was a VW Beetle so it’s no wonder she had an affinity to want to race a Vee.

 

Don’t let her size or the ever present smile fool you, because under that soft looking exterior lies the heart of a trucker. Kathy learned to drive a heavy rigid truck and has no hesitation in co-driving the LiTech 15tonner across the Nullabor with 6 Vees loaded up all the way to Phillip Island and this year the plan is to drive with 4 up and 4 more on their new purpose built trailer.


                               


In her first season in late 2013 it was a case of perseverance, a little bit of trepidation and a lot of nerves whilst she was being lapped left, right and almost centre as she got used to the car and the idea of going faster. All that drive and determination paid off for her in 2014, and in only her first full racing year, she finished the season 4th overall in WA and 10th overall in the Nationals in the 1200 class, against a field that featured some talented young drivers, and she also won the Kay Prosser award for the lady driver with the most points.

 

Kathy enjoys her time on the track and is currently trying to persuade husband Rod to build/buy her a new car for 2016 so that youngest daughter Rachel can take over her old 1200 car, so the ranks of the lady drivers will hopefully increase.

 

                             

Last but by no means least in the Formula Vee category, is the youngest of our 3 drivers, 21 year old April Welsh. April comes from a well known WA racing family, going back to both her Grandparents racing in SA, her father, Bruce, has successfully competed in Vees over the past 21 years and her mother Leeann and brother Connor support her in whatever way they can. Now in her third season racing a Formula Vee. Her start was sharing a car with Kathy Lisson before she took over her father’s 1200. After a shaky start she soon got the hang of holding her racing lines into the corners at Barbagallo’s and down at Collie, instead of letting other drivers push her out of the way.


                      

April has had to put up with a lot since being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of  three and this lead to being taunted at school as other students didn’t understand what she had to go through. In spite of this adversity, and with the total support of her far ranging family, April has come through to the other side an extremely intelligent, charismatic young lady. She is an accomplished public speaker and ambassador for Diabetes WA both here and across the world, and has stood in front of the United States Congress to raise awareness of this illness. Some of April’s achievements include being on the WA Department of Health Youth Advisory Council and Governing Council for Child and Adolescent Health Services; Youth Ambassador, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation which is pretty impressive for someone not long out of her teens.


                             



So, in spite of Uni studies, being on a number of Councils, Boards and Committees to promote awareness of Type 1 Diabetes as well as working part time at ECU, April has successfully competed at the Formula Vee Nationals last November at Phillip Island and rarely missed any race meetings here in WA, wet or dry this plucky young lady is keen to take on the world to show that nothing is going to stand in her way. Still driving her first car, an Opel Astra, she confided that she too learned to drive in a VW Beetle and that her earliest memories are of sitting on her fathers lap at the age of 6 or 7 at the wheel of a Vee....mind she didn’t say whether or not the car was moving at the time!!

 
It is April’s ambition to gain more experience in open wheelers and ultimately she wants to race Indy cars in the States alongside another T1 driver, Charlie Kimble, thus forming a T1 team with their sponsors Novo Nordisk. April has become heavily involved in promoting Youth Health here in WA and wants to collaborate with the committee of Women of Australian Motor Sport (WAMS) to further encourage the female young in Australia to get involved in all aspects of sport, especially in motor sport.

 
April is a dedicated and driven young lady who has conquered adversity to follow in the family footsteps into racing and also her work promoting awareness of T1 Diabetes and while she has her serious side, it has been heard on the grapevine that she’s been known to enjoy the “occasional” night out and foreign holiday!!


With three strong-willed female drivers in the 1200 category, the guys know not to mess with the ladies and although there have been a few racing incidents, generally everyone has a great time and is happy to help a fellow competitor out in times of need. 


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