The Girls Who Love Smashing Each Other Up In Cars
I don't know about you, but for me, no shopping outing or manicure session can compare to a Saturday spent watching my girlfriends race each other around the muddy English countryside in cars with bonnets like a bad boxer's face. Banger racing, once predominantly the preserve of weird-looking guys with anger issues, is being taken up by an increasing number of girls.
The races are held regularly at tracks across the country, and the whole atmosphere is completely anarchic and devoid of pretence. People walk and meet and greet freely between the bar, the grass stadium and the area out the back where the drivers and their friends hang out while fixing up the cars between each race.
I thought it was a shame that so few people have heard about the sport, let alone the emergence of the female element within it. So I spent this past July filming the races at Mildenhall Stadium in Suffolk, and some other places across the country, getting to know the girls who make it all happen.
SIMONE SMITH - 17 years old
"I started going to banger races at the age of three with my dad, uncle and cousin. They're all race bangers and that is how I got into it. On my 11th birthday, my dad bought me a car and that was it.
"I enjoy banger racing because it gives me something to do on Sundays. So far, I've won six trophies, including third place at Tongham and first at Worthing. I've got more trophies than my dad."
JADE CREESE - 17 years old
"I’ve been taking part in banger racing for the past two years. I started off by racing a classic Mini in the novice junior group, but once the season finished, I decided I no longer wanted to race the Mini and sold it. I then bought banger gear so I could go into that instead.
"Banger racing has been in my family for about 25, 30 years. My granddad and uncle started it. I got into it after watching my 22-year-old brother and 13-year-old cousin race. My first race meeting was amazing, I even crashed my car!
"I’m now 17 and wouldn’t go a weekend without racing. Some people seem to think of it as wasteful but once you’ve seen all the smiling faces at the end of the day, you’ll realise it’s not wasteful at all. It’s also a sport that all ages can enjoy."
COURTNEY FINNIKIN - 15 years old
"My great granddad raced Formula 1 stock cars and my granddad started racing in 1954, racing the same thing. My dad raced Brisca Ministox, F2 and F1 stock cars and my cousin Craig Finnikin races F1 stock cars now. It’s carried on through all the generations.
"I started racing when I was 11 years old and since then, I've been doing so every weekend. The season runs from March through November. What I enjoy most about it is the competition; the combination of nervousness and excitement before each race. I also like how everybody knows each other and we are all friends off track, but as soon as we go on track we race for ourselves."
KATE WILLIAMS - 27 years old
"Three years ago, I began banger racing because I had a lot of anger and frustration in me and I thought it could help me resolve that. My dad had started racing a couple of years previously, and I'm his biggest supporter.
"On my first race, which was a ladies-only race, I won second place and a trophy and prize money. I was asked if I wanted to go into the men’s final and agreed. It was the best fun I’ve ever had. The second race I took part in began with eight drivers and by the end there were only three of us left. I won third place and got a trophy. My dad pulled out halfway through, which made him very proud, but he was also a bit pissed off that I got a trophy.
"After that, I carried on racing with the men and did one more ladies race. I thoroughly enjoy racing and smashing things up and I like the rush against time to get the car ready between races. I think I’ll be doing it for years to come, or until my dad finally gives up. I would definitely recommend that everyone tries it at least once."
AMBERLEY COLBURN - 18 years old
"Ever since I was little I have watched banger racing. I love the excitement of seeing the cars smash into each other and the noise of the engines. So, I thought it would also be fun to have a go. It also helped that my dad is a mechanic, which means he builds and fixes my cars. He also used to race and he is my inspiration, so I use his old race number, 170, and every time I race I try my best to make my dad proud.
"Before I go out on the track, I am always really nervous but when I get out there I am full of adrenaline and excitement. When I’m racing I forget all my troubles and enjoy myself. It’s like bumper cars, but with real cars. Rookie bangers is my favourite sport and I think more people should give it a go because it is really fun being able to drive a car and smash into other cars.
"It's also a surreal feeling when you get spun out and have to get back into the race. Once, I competed against my mum in the Ladies Banger Race Day at Horndean Race Track. That was really fun. In the final I came second and my mum came third. I thrashed her."
Lucy Ridgard is a photographer. You can see more of her work here.
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