Published on September 11th, 2011 | by mrgrumpyninja1
Life in the Staging Lane- Racers Wife the Drag Edition.
So it seems most of you quite enjoyed “life of a racers wife”, featuring the ladies of drift, well now its time for part two featuring the ladies of Drag (wow…that sounds wrong).
Such a crucial part of the support frame work that makes a great team, these ladies perhaps have a serious role within a race meeting as most of them are responsible for making sure their husbands or partners actually STOP at the end of the track, call me paranoid…..but would you be happy packing a parachute that was the difference between 160mph+ to a safe stop or a visit to Meremeres famous gorse?
Thanks to Kim from CBR, Alice from FCD , Bonnie from STM and Karen from Trytnc racing for being a part of this.
Who are you and what team/driver/event/race style are you involved with
Karen Steffek – Wife of Simon Steffek , Driver of drag car TRYTNC which is currently retired, and no you can’t have a picture of me!I don’t trust you
Kim Curran, Brent Curran’s wife (with Curran Brothers Racing /Castrol Edge RX2) – Drag Racing
What role do you play in the team?
Karen- Team Manager, wife, PA, Safety crew, team feeder (well that’s a lie – my mother normally packs the food), Parachute packer, sh*t stirrer and general dogs body (I reckons theres not much to do on the drag car at an event that I couldn’t do myself if forced to). I pride myself in being a bit of an organising type because if I left it to Simon we would be stuffed!
Alice -Crew Chief, Wife (always comes second to crew chief), Team Manager – I make all the decision about when & where we race, organise the crew as we have a minimum to run the car safely, Steven just turns up to drive and take the glory! Engine & Car Builder (Steve & I both do this), oh and a Part Time Job – I work from home & work part time on the race car – I live & breath rotaries in my Rotorland!
Kim- What ever needs to be done on day, chute packer, tow car driver, videoing, back up person (worst job – Brent drives in reverse at top speed – will only ever do it if I have too!!), lunch maker, looking after kids! We also run a small business Curran Brothers Racing, which I help out with, admin & running around here there & everywhere – so keeps me pretty busy!!
Some of you have children, how do you balance that vs a husband/partner spending long hours/$$ on a 4 wheel/event based wife?
Alice- It’s just Steven & I so we are lucky that our Drag Car doesn’t have a budget, I just have to feel comfortable with the spending. I will forego things in life to make the DragCar go faster. Balancing time is something that is difficult, I have to work part time on our business to have the money to spend on the Drag Car. But some weeks when the car needs an engine built quickly everything just fly’s out the window. I can spend from midday until midnight working on the car so our local Thai Takeaway knows us well.
Kim-We have two small kids, Lachlan, 3 & Amelia, 2 (our future engine builders lol!) It can get a bit crazy at times because we work & live at the workshop, but we are always around each other & the kids get to see their dad whenever they want. We try to have a “family day” on Sunday during the off season (I think we have done that a couple times this year lol!) Kids have always been at the track since they were babies & they love it!! It has always kind of been this way & wouldn’t change it – I enjoy it & get just as much enjoyment out of it as Brent!! Not to say that there have never been times where I have tried to curb his spending $$ on the car though!
Karen- We don’t – Simon crashed the car when I was 7 months preggers with our first child and it has sat there doing nothing while we raise our daughter. We did have intentions of getting the car out again but we have a little boy on the way so the car is going to be sold.
Bonnie- Well, the children thing is very new to both of us as our daughter is a couple of months old… perhaps ask me the same question after this years drag season. I am sure it will be a challange as we live in Wellington and the team travels so much to all the events over the summer.
Whats the week before an event, especially a big one like at your place?
Bonnie- The week?? More like the month leading up to race events, It is mayhem. I usually end up feeling like a single woman again as I never see Andre since they are usually pulling some long hours to get the latest project ready for racing for their customers. They not only do it for the job but there is a lot of love that goes into their work too and I try to be as supportive as possible. For instance our wedding last year was planned around the drag racing calender!!! How many of you have to take that into consideration when planning your special day??!!
Karen- I didn’t see much of Simon the week of a drag event – lots of it was spent outside in the garage or at his work while he did final prep work and made sure the car was good to go – often we get invaded by out of towners which we really enjoy! The night before an event normally means p*ssing the neighbours off when we fire up the car and load it on to the trailer in our very residential area late at night – some love it, some not so much!
Alice- Don’t even ask, there is no clean washing, the house is a pig sty, dishes everywhere along with the Thai containers piling up. The only place I clean regularly is our workshop downstairs. I always keep the downstairs beer fridge well stocked (alcohol along with energy drinks) so any helpers are well hydrated.
Kim- A lot more busier for me than my hubby!! Just making sure I have everything organised for the kids & my various jobs at the track & usually we have a full house as people come up & stay, so yeah it can sometimes get a bit chaotic!
Do you enjoy the events?
Kim-Love them :) Can’t wait for the season to start!!
Karen – Love them, even now we are not racing, we are often down at the track supporting mates who are racing ! Although I didn’t often love the state I got home in – smelling of gear box oil, sunburnt, dehydrated and covered in filth from packing dirty parachutes.
Bonnie- Yes I do, dont get me wrong sometimes you can see too much of the cars at shows and at the track but it is also about the people and friends I have made since meeting Andre. I really enjoying going along and catching up with the other “wags” and having a good old girlie chat.
Alice- I get such a knot in my stomach as we pass over the Bombay hills, which doesn’t go away until after the first race. Setup is crazy and it doesn’t matter how much extra time I have allowed for getting to that first pass is hard work – but it’s worth it, my face might not always look happy but I love Drag Racing. I hate going to events were we can’t race, it just makes me jealous.
What do you think of the concept of racers “wags” ,are other “wags” nice? Is it harder once you get to the more competitive end of the field/ start competing for sponsors?
Alice- WTF??? I don’t know what that means but please don’t call me that I might mistake it for old hag!… It is harder once you get to the more competitive end of the field, Steven goes crazy mad, which makes me crazy (as I’m already mad). Steven just wants to be the driver and I deal with everything else so most of the time I don’t even tell him there is prize money or a title up for grabs – I just try to keep him calm.
Bonnie- For the most part the other “wags” are great. Whenever we come to Auckland for work or personal reasons we end up staying with other couples in the drag scene. We have made really good friends with a bunch of them, but yes the boys are very competitive. It is hard when you are at that end of the field and all competing for the top time slip. However for the most part the boys tend to play nice.
Kim- Haha I had to google what “wags” meant must be getting old!! They are all lovely & I really look forward to the start of the season to see the ones that live far away!
Karen -All the other partners or wives I have had contact with at drag meets have been super lovely! from the big budget teams right down to the ones who scrape their pennies together they are all lovely – its the only time I get to see them and even the ones I barely know are super friendly! (although I am not sure they would all say the same about me LOL)
Ever have massive fights about that new set of race tyres vs a holiday or new wardrobe etc?
Alice-Nothing is more important than drag racing in our house so I would never choose something else over drag racing. That’s why we got married in August, while we were away on our honeymoon we had our roll cage built. In actual fact it’s Steven that pulls the brakes on sometimes when I comes money, sometimes it’s cheaper to make things in-house as we have both Mill & Lathe, it’s all about a balance of time rather than money. The biggest fights we’ve had is when Steven & I disagree on things like why he can’t call in sick and help me get the car ready (damn his work ethic), why do I have to clean all the engine parts by myself then he comes home to do the fun parts like put it together.
Kim- No not too often, I would much rather be at the track than shopping!…. although a holiday would be awesome!
Bonnie- Luckily enough Andre does not have a car of his own at the moment that he wants to pour all our funds into… however the mention of Docile returning does keep popping up every now and again. So, so far so good. I just don’t tend to mention the shopping to him…
Karen – We were lucky enough to have sponsorship for a while while we were racing and his money is his money – if the mortgage and bills are paid I don’t care what he spends money on – I had horses so when competing I could rival him on costs! and holidays normally consisted of a trip to Jambo to watch racing anyway!
What do you think of the “young girls” who seem to hang around after parties, looking to hook up with drivers?
Karen- Skanky and nasty LOL but I am sure the drivers love it! although I am a bit of a nana and dont go near afterparties very often!- I am a sh*t drinker and get irritated by people!( MGN- this is a proven fact)
Alice- Good on them – each to their own. Just stay away from my Husband!
Bonnie- Hahahaha they crack me up, mostly harmless but you do get ya groupies. Thankfully I haven’t seen any trying a number on Dre… is that a good thing…hmmm
Kim- I must drink a bit much at these event because I’ve never noticed it lol!
Could events be made better in any way for families?
Kim-YES!! Any kind of entertainment for the kids at the track would be awesome, some kind of playground, trampoline or something.. a creche would be great haha!!! I am very lucky at the track my family & crew are so good at helping out with kids couldn’t do it without them
Bonnie- I am pretty happy with the events that are put on at present. The 4 & Rotary events are very family orientated and have a good crew that are always keen to help in someway. But I am sure with the amount of kids starting to crop up a ‘daddy day care’ may need to be thrown into the mix
Karen- A built in daycare at meremere is probably a bit much to ask for LOL – the only thing I can think of at the drags would be more shade to sit under. We are lucky enough to have a pit bay but sometimes when everyone is warming up there cars you have to escape the methanol!!
How do you deal with husband/partner when he makes the final and blows it, or something mechanicals??
Alice- I kick his arse – Nah we just celebrate the wins, our team focus is to always bettering our PB – to always make sure we go faster, losing is something that is always a possibility (especially as there is always a faster P/I) but really all we care about is going faster. When we crashed our last DragCar we won the race and the series upside down!
As for if it’s a Mechanical Issue – that’s something we can always fix for the next race, when you only have 8 seconds to put the power down and sometimes only five times in a meeting – you can’t really expect it to be perfect, then racing wouldn’t be a challenge.
Bonnie- Keep a wide berth!! The whole team have tried so hard to get to that point and it is disappoiting to them all to fail at that point. But its also about being supportive. Thankfully the last few projects that STM have been involved in have gone really well for the team. For instance DS9, HD2 (still in development) Simon Steffeks Mirage (now in retirement and for sale).
Kim- Nothing to deal with really, Brent’s been on the ball lately with his driving! But even if he hadn’t its not a big deal – anything can happen, you win some & you lose some :) We try to just go into each meeting wanting to run all day and have fun, when we win something or go faster its a bonus!
Lastly, whats the chances of you just grabbing the keys and having a go, or building your own racer?
Karen – Nil – Simon was pushing it for a while – he said I could race the mirage (depowered of course) but it doesn’t really interest me – I would rather be part of the team that allows him to do well and hang out with the boys! we have a great group of friends that helped us and it was more fun to hang out with them on race day than think about racing ourselves!
Bonnie- HELL NO!!! Scares me to death!!! I freak when I see Dre behind the wheel, I am quite happy supporting the team from the side line thanks!!
Kim- We are!:) My brother (Paul Jackson) & I have a little 323 (Haydon Rowell’s old one) 13BPP – NA on meth, that we are learning in, we will make it faster as we go and get more driving experience! Looking forward to next season
Alice- I did in April 2011 – This is what I wrote for our drag crew that couldn’t make it:
I had a little try in our drag car – this was the first time I have driven on the strip in about 6/7 years. Talk about shoe on the other foot, even though I turned the boost down I managed a 1.33 sixty foot and picked the fronts of the ground! However I never actually got out of first gear (both passes) – my brain kept telling me to put in the clutch and pull off the gas every time I went for second and (as every gear except first is clutchless) this just made the gearbox pop out of gear. Typical excuses excuses …… but if I had managed to change gear would have meant a low-nine! I would have loved to challenged Nikki Dunlops ET but I ran out of time – I wonder how long it take to re-train my brain of not using a clutch to change gear.
Steven had talked me through the whole process from starting in the staging lanes, the burnout and then the start but as I’m back backwards after the first burnout (if you could call it that) the car starts to stall and my mind just goes blank – Steven never said this would happen! Ahhhhhh! I’m an intelligent girl – I can build a Rotary but at that point in time I was as dumb as a door knob. Luckily my ‘backup babe’ Susan could read minds and was good a charades. Last thing before I set off and Truby sticks his head in and says ‘use the chute if it goes bad’ – Wow he had more confidence than I did that I would get off the line!
10,000RPM and drop the clutch! I got some whip lash in my neck as we had to prop me a lot in the chair with a mass of jackets and towels behind me, we had to lengthen the harness heaps (which always makes a girl feel thin! Not). Once I hit the gas the G-forces made my head tip back (kind of like a flip top lid) and oh my god the G forces were astonishing – I wasn’t really prepared to be hit in the chest with a bowling ball. At that second (with wheels in the air) I was thinking ………. Ah what the hell am I doing ……….Who let me do this surely this isn’t safe ……….
I was a good day all round – just a shame we didn’t have a passenger’s seat as Stevo could have changed gear for me! It’s put a new light on the subject – I guess I just really took the driving Steve does for granted I mean I see him all amped up at the finish line but that punch of G’s at the start line that’s massive. It’s nothing like you could imagine …….
Also interesting was watching Kim (Brent’s wife) and Paul (from their pit crew) do some passes in their 323 – Kim did an awesome burnout. Stu Lawton came up for the long drive and managed to break (I think the only part he doesn’t carry spare for) the gearbox but he did an awesome 7.9 on only four gears!
Ladies. Thank you all for being part of this, and I look forward to seeing you all at the track over summer.