Drag racing star Kelly Bettes puts job on hold to compete in Darwin

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July 20, 2017 20:37:37

If you pull up at a traffic light alongside Australia’s fastest female drag racer, you can bet she will be using the time to practise her reactions for her dream race.

“When it goes green, you hit the throttle, think about releasing the handbrake and off you go,” 32-year-old Kelly Bettes said.

Last month Bettes became the quickest and fastest female dragster in the country, accelerating more than 500 kilometres per hour during a lap driven to get her licence to drive a Top Fuel dragster in Darwin’s Nitro Up North.

“It was a very exciting moment,” said Bettes, who works full-time as a graphic designer when she is not training to drive the fastest cars on the planet.

“It’s cool to be the quickest and fastest female in the country,” she said.

Bettes also broke an Australian record for a licensing lap.

“It’s my first full run in the car [and] it ended up being the quickest and fastest licensing pass in the country — ever”.

At Darwin’s Hidden Valley Raceway tomorrow night she will get behind the wheel of a 10,000 horsepower Lamattina Top Fuel dragster to compete in her first Top Fuel event.

It is a dream she has harboured since she was a little girl, growing up in a racing family in regional Victoria.

“It’s almost like an athlete making it to the Olympics,” she said.

“You imagine what it would feel like to drive one but you don’t actually think the time will come around when you do get offered to drive one of them.”

Motor Sports NT president Grant Hamon said Bettes’ record speed in Brisbane had thrown her into the international spotlight.

“All eyes are on her,” Mr Hamon said.

During the 2016 Nitro Up North event a Top Fuel competitor made the third-fastest drag-race speed in history with one racer reaching 530 kilometres an hour in 400 metres in less than five seconds.

There are high hopes the only female Top Fuel competitor will break another record.

“Kelly is awesome. I’m hoping that she’s going to be the one that sets the record,” Mr Hamon said.

Mr Hamon said it also sent a clear message to young women that anybody with the skill could achieve.

Bettes agrees it will feel good to show female junior dragsters that it is possible to make it to the top level, even without financial backing.

“I think it will give young girls a little bit of hope,” she said.

The 32-year-old who still works full-time and is using her annual leave to compete in drag races says being asked to take the wheel of a Top Fuel came as a total surprise.

“You can get there just through achievements if you do the right thing through your racing career,” she said.

Bettes will race her first lap on Friday night followed by three races on Saturday night.

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