Seven seconds of fun

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Drag racing is a sport that almost anyone with a desire can compete in. For 53 year old Victorian racer Leanne Braggs her introduction to the sport came later than most, however that has not deterred her desire to master it.


Now competing in Modified, Braggs came from a background in speedway and her interest in drag racing was non-existent until seven years ago.

“Over 30 years ago I raced speedway and during that time and until I actually went to a race meeting, I figured drag racing was a ridiculous sport,” said Braggs.

“How hard could it be; green light go, finish line stop. I had never seen a drag race meeting and wasn’t interested.”

Like many in the drag racing community, Bragg’s introduction to the sport came via a family member, namely her son Michael.

Braggs CrewLeanne Braggs and her dedicated crew. Husband Steve, son Michael and son-in-law Ryan

“I went to Heathcote Park to crew for my son, I didn’t want to go but as my husband Steve was unavailable I filled in,” she said.

“It was at this meeting that an opportunity arose for me to be able to have a run in the car. Twice down the track and I was a convert.” 

Since then the family involvement has only expanded with more race cars demanding more hands on the job.

“My husband Steve does all of the work on my car,” she said.


“He keeps it running during the meeting and between race meetings.

“He does all of the hard yards for me to have my seven seconds of fun.

“My son Michael also helps with the crewing and when  we race locally, I have my son in law, daughter and some special friends that come and help.


I am not sure why, but there is a real stigma about being beaten by a girl. I think everyone needs to get over it, but in saying that, it is great to beat the men.

“My brother lives in Adelaide so he comes out when we are over there. Often, it is just Steve and I though.

“On top of that he and Michael own a Supercharged Outlaw 37 Chev that my son drives.

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“My four year old granddaughter keeps my ego in check – after finishing runner up at a meeting, she greeted me with “Nanny, you lost….”.”

Braggs current car is a Peter Byrne-built 32 Bantam Altered that when debuted saw her running in the 7.9 to 8.0 second zone. Possessing the desire to go quicker she rapidly found herself sitting behind a Reher-Morrison 565 Big Block Chev.


“I have run a best of 7.44 @ 188mph. Whilst we are happy with the mph, the et is a work in progress,” she said.

“The lack of testing is the biggest downfall.  I have had to do “competitive testing” during qualifying at the last few meetings trying to sort the car out. It certainly isn’t ideal or easy.

“My ambition is to do as well as we can while still having fun travelling around – a gold Christmas tree would be good!”


LeanneBraggs130412 39Leanne with runner-up trophy at the Top Fuel/Top Alcohol Pro Series event in 2012 in Adelaide

Like many in the sport of drag racing sponsorship is hard to come by, especially in racing starved Victoria.

“My kids sponsor my car as it is their inheritance that we are spending,” quipped Braggs.

The lack of an drag strip of international standards in Victoria has not deterred her interest for the sport, though the recent Portland round was a boost.

“To race in Victoria is such a bonus. Not only do my family and friends get to watch what we do, but they are able to come and help,” she said.


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Braggs is a keen supporter of the Australian Women’s Motorsport Network or AWMN. This group of likeminded women assist in the role females play in a very much male dominated sport.

“I attended a couple of the AWMN training days before I started driving competitively.  To have the likes of Debbie O’Rourke, Kath Stevens and Debbie Reed give you some tips and one on one time was just great,” she said.

“I think everyone should learn or listen to someone outside of their “circle” for some objective advice.”


On the subject of racing men at the track?

“Being a woman in drag racing hasn’t made it any easier or harder. I actually think it is harder on the men in drag racing, racing a woman.

“I am not sure why, but there is a real stigma about being beaten by a girl. I think everyone needs to get over it, but in saying that, it is great to beat the men.”

Given her own ‘late bloomer’ story, Braggs suggested it would be good to enable people in the sport to have a taste of it first.

Braggs Heathcote

“(My first race) was at Heathcote and rightly or wrongly, because it wasn’t and isn’t ANDRA sanctioned, you can pay $5, get an armband and I assume “insurance,” and have a run,” she said.


“I must admit, if we were at an ANDRA event, this wouldn’t have been possible and I would never have had a go.”

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As to where you can catch the Braggs family and their altered, there will be ample opportunity to see them at a number of upcoming races.


“We will be racing at Portland for the Slamfest event, then over to Adelaide for the Aeroflow round then back to Portland the next week. 


“We plan on running at the Nitro’s and the Mildura Aeroflow round and we might plan a holiday around the Alice Springs round.  Of course, if anything comes of Calder, we will be there.” she said.


Braggs encourages anyone who wants to know more about the sport to come and say hello. In particular she is keen to give some advice to women who are interested in taking a trip down the quarter.


“We are a real family team and I would love to help encourage anyone into this sport.  Because my car is one big spider and spider web, it attracts the kids, so I have lots of people around and we let the kids  hop in and have a photo if they want.” she concluded.

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