If you ask Abbey Kay McDonald, there’s no better place than this weekend’s Saltwood @ Rosedale Australia Day Nationals at Sydney Dragway to make her national level drag racing debut amongst an all-star National Drag Racing Championship (NDRC) line-up.
With two championship rounds for eight 11,000hp/500kph Top Fuelers; Top Doorslammer, Pro Stock, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Pro Alcohol and FuelTech Pro Mod title fights; plus, Aeroflow National Sportsman Championship racing, fireworks and more – this Friday and Saturday’s event is not to be missed and McDonald couldn’t be more excited.
“What could possibly be better than hundreds of beautiful, high-performance machines being driven by some of the country’s finest teams and drivers lining up against each other on Australia Day weekend in beautiful Sydney?!” she said.
It is no secret that us Aussies have a bit of a reputation for strong car-culture, and I don’t think I can think of a better way to showcase it.”
A rising drag racing star, proven automotive marketer and influencer, classically trained singer and taekwondo black belt, the passionate and highly talented 28-year-old from the Gold Coast is sure to turn heads when she hits Sydney Dragway alongside 250 other competitors this Friday and Saturday.
“It is safe to say I am equally as excited as I am nervous to be making my debut at what is set to be an absolutely huge event,” said McDonald, the director of Build Different Marketing which specialises in automotive and motorsport marketing services.
“This will be my first NDRC event and first-time racing at Sydney Dragway, so I am getting two firsts for the price of one.
“I’m very familiar with the Sydney-based drivers and there’s amazing talent there, so I’ll be bringing my A-game along!”
As a big believer in the NDRC, it is no surprise McDonald has chosen to bring her burgeoning drag racing career to the new national series.
“I’m a passionate supporter of the NDRC and its cause. It does an amazing job at showcasing the real, raw moments of the sport, supporting the teams and drivers that dedicate so much energy into it and encouraging the public to get involved,” she said.
“In my opinion, drag racing is currently one of the most underrated motorsports and the NDRC is on a mission to show the nation how exciting, heartbreaking, amazing and addictive it truly is,” added McDonald, who will take to the track in the ex-Scott Bettes-owned Front Engined Dragster in the Aeroflow National Sportsman Championship’s Modified bracket.
The road to McDonald’s looming national debut is perhaps unsurprisingly paved with a long history of high-powered machines.
“Growing up constantly around pilots and planes, I had a love for big machines from a young age; however, my main interest was always on ground-level on four-wheels,” McDonald explains.
“Bathurst Day was bigger than Christmas Day in our house and, even though I’m a lover of many street cars, I was always drawn to race cars.
“There’s something about roll cages, bucket seats, tight cockpits, big horsepower and driving something to the absolute limit that always took my interest over everything else.”
From building cars to racing them, McDonald has tried her hand at it all – sharing her journey along the way with her online audience that now numbers more than 80,000.
“I tinkered with cars as a teenager, trying different projects such as turning a street-registered 300zx into a drift car (unsuccessfully) and self-teaching as much as possible,” she said.
“Driving and working on cars became my passion, seconded by watching racing; however, I never thought I would have the talent or opportunity to race myself.
“After driving karts for fun a few times at a local track, I started to receive a lot of comments about my driving talent and people recommending I have a go behind the wheel, however I never knew where to start.”
Little did she know then that a trip to the Winternationals – the largest championship drag racing event held outside of the US – would soon prove a transformative experience.
“In 2016 I attended the Winternationals, my first drag racing event, as a total newbie to the sport, and to say my life changed over those four days is an understatement,” McDonald reflects.
“It was like someone had turned on a light for me and the obsession kicked off at once, spending the four days pestering any team or driver that would give me their time, asking a million questions and refusing to eat at times just so I didn’t miss a single pass.
“It was love at first quarter mile!”
Less than a year later, McDonald was given the chance she needed to explore the sport first-hand, and the rest is history.
“A close family friend purchased a Holden LX Hatchback Torana drag car for my sister and I to race as a complete surprise – he said the talent we both had shouldn’t be wasted and he wished that someone would’ve taken a chance on him when he was young, so he was choosing to give us the chance he never got.
“He turned my dream into a reality and, to this day, is still my biggest supporter and teammate.
“Since then, I have done my best to take the opportunity he’s given me, run with it and turn it into inspiration for other aspiring racers! My dreams came true, and I hope one day I can turn a successful racing career into providing opportunities for other people to live their dreams as well.”
McDonald licensed first in Super Sedan, and then jumped straight into Modified as she believes it is her best track to her ultimate drag racing goal: Top Fuel.
“Last year was a huge year for me as my first year to run a full consecutive year of racing, saw me make my first seven-second pass and take home two local trophies.
“I also started professional driver training, was the guest speaker representing women in motorsport for an exclusive motoring group, attended countless motorsport events, met a handful of my idol drivers and teams, formed multiple new partnerships and got ready to expand into the world of circuit racing for 2024.”
Alongside her goal of racing in Top Fuel, McDonald aspires to create opportunities for other young and upcoming racers.
“In the longer term I want to use my business and racing success to create race cars and teams that provide opportunities for more young people, particularly women, to explore motorsport and have a fair go,” McDonald explains.
“Each part of my journey in motorsport has been lifechanging, so I hope that within my lifetime I can pay it forward by removing some challenges to entry so that more people get to experience it too.”
In the meantime, this inspiring woman of many talents wants to thank all those who have helped her on her journey so far.
“Drag racing really takes a village and there are countless people I would love to thank, including my ongoing partners and supporters Mick Newport Contracting, Gulf Western Oil, Cat Mountain, Kiques Heels, Scorpion Racewear and The Brisbane Club, as well as my crew Mick Newport, Travis Sansome and Adam Cloud,” McDonald said.
“And of course, I must thank my supportive family, friends, and followers – I appreciate every single one.
“Finally, and this announcement was planned for this weekend however I’m excited to announce early to the NDRC’s fans, that I have also partnered with VP Racing Fuels Australia!
“I can’t wait to get back to my ultimate happy place this weekend and hopefully put on a great show.”
The Saltwood @ Rosedale Australia Day Nationals will present an action-packed two day program featuring two rounds of the Top Fuel championship as well as Top Doorslammers, Pro Alcohol, Pro Stock Motorcycle, FuelTech Pro Mod, and the Aeroflow National Sportsman Championship – guaranteeing no shortage of thrills across the January 26 and 27 event at Sydney Dragway.
For full event information and tickets, visit ndrc.tv.