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19 June 2008
MICK MONTEROSSO: Good luck.
GRACE MONTEROSSO: I definitely love all the finer things but, you know, love a fast car and a bit of adrenalin.
PAUL McCARTHY: Grace Monterosso is not your normal, everyday beauty therapist. In fact, as soon as work finishes, you're more likely to find a gear stick rather than a lipstick in her hand.
Most weekends you'll find her under the bonnet or behind the wheel of her high performance Commodore getting ready for her next race.
MICK MONTEROSSO: Okay Grace, just fire it up, make sure that these plugs are okay.
GRACE MONTEROSSO: No worries.
PAUL McCARTHY: It's not surprising, considering her pedigree. Her father's been racing for 30 years, and from when she was a toddler she's been trackside, soaking up the fumes and the thrills. But the idea his beauty therapist daughter might follow in his footsteps was something Mick Monterosso wasn't exactly ready for.
GRACE MONTEROSSO: I think since I was about 13 I kept saying to dad "I want to do motor racing" and, you know, first it was "Wait till you're 16" and then "Wait till you're 18", "Wait till you're 21".
MICK MONTEROSSO: At first because she was a girl, but then I bought her her first car for the road and that was a manual car as well, and she spruced it up, put some big wheels on it and made it look like the boy's car down the road and I thought "Well, yeah, I'll give her a go".
PAUL McCARTHY: Once Mick Monterosso had overcome his reservations, he bought his daughter a car and turned it into a racing machine. He's now her team manager as she competes in the state's saloon car championship.
MICK MONTEROSSO: At first it was a little bit tough, I was smoking a lot of cigarettes standing on the mound watching her, but now it's not a problem.
PAUL McCARTHY: While Grace Monterosso might have been burning the rubber, Sam Reid was merely burning oil. The 19-year-old was getting first-hand experience of the frustrations of the internal combustion engine.
SAM REID: There's a fair bit of oil down there.
MALE: Probably a front seal that needs reworking at the workshops.
PAUL McCARTHY: But while today might have been a low in Sam Reid's career, there have been plenty of highs. She started driving at the age of nine and in the same year won the state go-karting title. Now she competes in the National Formula Ford Class. It's considered the first step towards Formula One.
SAM REID: I love, I guess, the speed and adrenalin rush of it. It's really good to be, you know, inches off the ground at over 200 kilometres an hour.
PAUL McCARTHY: Sam is so passionate about racing she's taken her love of the sport to another level. She is studying mechatronic engineering at university and this year was selected for a driver development program at the Australian Institute of Sport.
SAM REID: Well, I have a point to prove to myself in that I really want to be taken seriously in the sport. I really do want to be the best in this class. I don't want to be the best girl in Australia, I want to be the best.
PAUL McCARTHY: Back at the saloon cars it's race time and Grace Monterosso isn't the only one looking to add a woman's touch to the track. Naomi Maltby is a 30-year-old lawyer who loves an adrenalin rush. This is only Naomi's second race and it's a tough learning curve. She loses control at the first turn and ends up in what race goers call the kitty litter.
NAOMI MALTBY: Because I've been working a lot in motor vehicle accident law for insurers so they all think I'm crazy to go out and get whiplash by choice.
PAUL McCARTHY: Grace Monterosso is under pressure for most of the race but holds her ground to finish a respectable sixth. Naomi eventually comes in last. Then it's time for the debrief.
MALE: How long did it take to get it up to speed after temperature?
NAOMI MALTBY: It takes really a whole lap to get it right.
MICK MONTEROSSO: You have got just to remember not to stand on the brake straightaway.
PAUL McCARTHY: Mick Monterosso is happy with what he's seen.
MICK MONTEROSSO: She's up there with the boys. She's always closer to the front of the field rather than the rear of the field, and she's not hesitant to go for a gap that's only half the size of her car and she'll go through it.
PAUL McCARTHY: At this stage Naomi Maltby's aim is to compete for three years and see what happens. Grace Monterosso wants to prove she can compete nationally. All the women know that will depend on a lot of ifs. Motor racing is a notoriously unpredictable and expensive sport but they're determined to keep the pedal to the metal even if it's just to change a few attitudes.
NAOMI MALTBY: When people ask about the car they assume that my partner drives or if they find out that I drive it they think we must share it or something. They don't seem to believe that it's just me.
GRACE MONTEROSSO: Women and stereotypes are huge and it's just nice to be able to break it down and say "Hey, I can be a lady when I need to be but it's fun to be the boys too.
SAM REID: Look, when we put our helmets on we're all the same and we all go and race hard and come in, and the only difference really is that I've got long hair really when we get out.