Women and Fast Cars

Article in the Konect Directory, Balerno edition, August 2010

by Karen Murray

Sixteen year old Natalie Henderson shares with Konect her love of fast cars and racing 

Many a young lad might dream of being a racing driver one day, but what about young girls?  

I’m guessing not so many. My 13 year old spends her time dreaming of designer clothing and hockey matches, but Peter Henderson’s granddaughter Natalie was not your typical 13 year old. At that age she was already racing round the track in her customised Citreon AX! Now at 16, she races in the Autograss Ladies’ Class at the Lochgelly Motorsport Complex and is fervently looking forward to moving up to Stock Car racing.

 

Peter now lives in Balerno but is originally from Kirknewton and spent his married life in Currie, which is where Natalie spent most of her younger years listening to her grandad talking engines and cars. Her father, Peter’s son, also raced so you could say racing cars is in the blood. Natalie and her younger sister spent many a weekend at the race track with father and grandfather and in the garage where she keeps her car in Kirknewton, there are also numerous antique engines which Peter restores and shows.

Natalie Henderson

 Between the pair of them, oil, grease, engines and cars are top of their agenda. Naturally Natalie need never worry about the engine in her car - grandad is always on hand to look at it, although her mechanic boyfriend is currently teaching her all she needs to know so she will able to make repairs herself.

“I spend as much time in Balerno with my grandad as I can,” smiles Natalie, revelling in how proud he obviously is of her. “He is my main sponsor and I have his company name - Forklift and HAIB driver training - splashed all over the car.”

The car, by the way, is girly pink with a red roof and Natalie has a matching helmet. It seems that being a racing driver does not negate being feminine. “I have already got my stock car - a Vauxhall Nova - and I intend to paint that pink too but I think I’ll go for a really luminous pink this time,” she laughs.

On a more serious note, I asked Natalie about any nerves when driving or worries about crashing. Looking over the fields behind the garage she smiles fondly. “I remember learning to drive in a Landrover on those fields when I was only 12 and I had no nerves, but I was a bit nervous the first time I waited on the start line ready to race. I still am really but once the race starts, I’m fine.” That first time she was only 13, racing in the Junior section. She has now moved up to the Ladies class and can’t wait for her turn to race stock cars, which she views as a real step up. The Autograss involves spinning but is on mud, whereas the stock cars mean you get involved in what she calls ’nudge and spin’.  

Natalie loves the thrill of  racing although she also recalls several dents and bashes to the car as well as a few crashes and even a couple of ambulance rides away from the track. “But nothing has happened to put me off racing. I just get back in the car and off  I go.” She is most certainly one tough cookie.

Peter is very matter of fact about his granddaughter’s love of racing. He knows it is what she wants to do more than anything and actively supports and encourages her. Mind you his love of the engines he restores and shines until they sparkle is also obvious. Most are Lister engines, dating back to the early 20th century and he takes them to shows and galas. They were a big hit at the recent Balerno Children’s Gala Day. 

Tearing him away from his beloved engines, Natalie takes her grandad off to lunch, reminding him that her car needs a new fuel pump and new suspension before the next race. 

Natalie is not yet old enough to drive on the road, but she is an expert driver. Is she worried about her driving test? No, of course not, but I’m guessing she might just have to lay off the accelerator a wee bit.  

Peter Henderson

Peter Henderson and one of his Lister engines 

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