Karlie and Sophia Buccini are sisters from Queensland who have grown up with the sound of racing cars in their hearts. From watching Supercars with their father, Paul, and then seeing Paul go racing for himself and by helping him out in the pits they were ignited to give it a go themselves.
“The thrill and adrenalin I got just watching Dad on track fired the spark in me to want to have a go. Now, there is no taking my helmet off,” said Karlie who is now 24 years old and has been racing for eight years now.
“We always had so many fun times and laughs and it was something that I wanted to be a part of even more. Plus I love a challenge and racing gives you that and so much more,” added Karlie.
Sophia started running some events in 2018 and was extremely successful straight out of the blocks. But an injury from dancing, Sophia’s other passion, prevented her from racing again until early 2019.
In 2019 Sophia balanced Year 12, her dancing career and racing and would like to continue her racing. Recently Sophia finished second in the Short Circuit racing and third in the Sprints at Carnell Raceway, a small but tough track due to the terrible grip. With only a handful of hours in the seat she has performed well above expectations.
“I enjoy improving each run, working at catching the next car lap after lap is exciting. Every time I get on the track I aim to improve. I enjoy the fun moments of every weekend and love spending the time with both my family and my race family. I also like the social part of the events as we all have fun stories to talk about,” said Sophia.
“As a female, I’m treated well and the competitors always encourage me and give me ideas, they are awesome and that is what racing is all about. Women are always not always seen as competitive but I feel that needs to change and having more of us out there being competitive will open their eyes,” added Sophia.
Karlie started racing with a road spec Ford Fiesta and then went into a Proton Satria GTI where she had great success. Like all racers she wanted more so Karlie purchased a BMW 130i and once she felt confident with the rear wheel drive BMW Karlie started putting people on notice that she was looking for the top step.
Karlie is a regular Street Sprint and Hillclimb winner and last year she also won the Short Circuit Sprints series and the Morgan Park Sprint series outright in her class. In 2019 Karlie set her goal on the Queensland Production Car series and has succeeded in winning her class outright.
“There is so much to enjoy about racing – the rush, the adrenalin, the speeds – but what I think I enjoy most is the challenge! The challenge to come first in races, the challenge to pick off the next car in front, the challenge to push that little bit faster and little bit harder into the corner you’ve done a hundred times,” Karlie told me enthusiastically!
“I sometimes think people who don’t race, believe you just hop in a car and “go fast” but there is so much more to it – how to take that corner, how to get more out of yourself and out of the car, how to think quickly. So many things to think about in a split second and whilst the smallest of mistakes can have huge impacts that may not work out, when they do, it’s incredible. The feeling you get when it goes right, is indescribable to someone who doesn’t race,” continued Karlie.
Something Karlie enjoys most about racing is the fact she is a female in racing. When she puts her helmet on, it doesn’t matter who you are and everyone is out there for one thing – to have fun and to win!
“And let’s be honest, getting to say you beat the boys is always a plus! I would love to see more girls coming through and into racing! Through my experience, I’ve seen so many young girls at tracks that want to get involved and I really think they should! We need more of us,” encouraged Karlie.
Karlie has a bright pink car so naturally young girls find their way to her and they always want to see inside my car, sit inside my car and get photos with the “pretty pink one”.
“We have a bit of a running joke that I have all the “fans”, but I love being able to share this with them and show them that girls can do anything men can do (most of the time, better),” laughs Karlie.
“I hope it inspires them to follow their dreams and not let anything stand in their way. It may not be in motorsport but in anything! My dad also sponsors lots of sprint events for the female trophies just to encourage the ladies to give it a go. In my experience lots of women do want to, but are afraid because they fear the male backlash,” said Karlie.
Karlie is not stopping in Queensland and aims to be at the Bathurst 6 hour event in 2020, if she can secure some sponsors. There are also talks happening to get Karlie a seat in the GT or Aussie Car series in 2020, which all depends on a deal being done and sourcing additional sponsors.
Like so many families around Australia and the world motor sport has become an integral part of life for the Buccini family. You can follow the progress of Karlie, Sophia and Paul on Facebook and Instagram, just search Team Buccini Racing.
Photographs by Team Buccini Racing.