TAFE NSW Certificate II Automotive student Sally Webster, 17, has been invited to join Maisie Place Motorsport, an all-female motorsport team, for an upcoming round of the Mazda RX8 Cup Super-Series at Sydney Motorsport Park on May 26 -28.
Hailing from the motorsport capital of Australia, Bathurst NSW, Sally attends MacKillop College where the Year 12 student is currently studying for her HSC while completing a Certificate II in Automotive Servicing at TAFE NSW in Bathurst. Sally is also undertaking work experience at Westend Automotive.
Sally’s introduction to the automotive world came when she was in Year 11 and had just started her TAFE NSW course. John Ewing, one of her teachers, introduced Sally to motorsport when he let her “tag along” to the Bathurst 6 Hour. Sally met many women and spoke to the teams and this motivated her to pursue a job in the sector where she hopes to one day inspire other girls to take up a career in motorsport.
“Next week I’m going to the RX8 race in Sydney with Maisie Place and her team, hopefully making more connections and getting my foot in the door to start my career in motorsport and the automotive industry,” Ms Webster shared with Driven Women Magazine.
This opportunity comes after Sally’s impressive work at the Bathurst 6 Hour as part of the TAFE NSW Motorsport Repair Team where she was introduced to other women working in motorsport. Meeting these women at the Bathurst 6 Hour was a career highlight for Sally to date. Sally admits these were the best conversations she had ever had with people that have the same interests as her and are doing the work that Sally is so eager to get into.
According to Jobs and Skills Australia, women make up only 1% of the automotive industry, but opportunities such as motorsport events at Mount Panorama and mentorships within the industry are looking to buck the trend and improve opportunities for women to make their mark.
NSW TAFE Teacher of Light Auto Mechanics, John Ewing, said Sally has shown a keen interest for the automotive industry and an eagerness to learn and grow her skills.
“Sally is an outstanding student who has shown a real interest in the industry since commencing her Cert II Automotive Vocational Studies and her recent work with our repair team at the Bathurst 6 Hour has reinforced her enthusiasm for motorsport,” Mr Ewing said.
“Sally has also been invited to complete her Statement of Attainment in Motorsport and join us for the Bathurst 1000 later this year. It’s really rewarding to see students learn and grow through their exposure to hands-on industry experience and with Mount Panorama literally on our doorstep here at the Bathurst Campus, the opportunities are endless,” added Mr Ewing.
As a TAFE NSW TVET student, Sally has been able to make a head start on her career by studying a Certificate II in Automotive Vocational Studies while also completing her HSC at MacKillop College.
“I still wanted to get my HSC because I wanted to have options when I finished school, but I decided to try Automotive at TAFE to see if I’d like it and I’m so glad I did because I love it. Motorsport is the dream, I would love to drive but I also love rebuilding and fixing engines,” Ms Webster said.
Sally is eager to be joining Maisie Place Motorsport for the Mazda RX8 Cup and is looking forward to learning from other women in the industry.
“I am so excited to learn more from Maisie and her team, it’s a fantastic opportunity that has been made possible with my teachers’ encouragement and their help making industry connections. It’s really inspiring see what Maisie has built and be introduced to the community of women in motorsport, I’m looking forward to being a part of it,” Ms Webster told us.
The teamwork and the challenges you have to face, the problem solving and diagnosis of issues with the race car are what Sally loves most about working in the motorsport arena. Also, for Sally meeting people during motorsport events, who all come from different backgrounds and are all so driven towards competing and hopefully winning, is a big factor as well.
“I am hoping that Maisie likes my passion for the work and knows that I am willing to do anything to be able to work with her and the motorsport industry. I’m hoping to be able to drive and work on one of her cars, and my dream is to build my own car one day,” Ms Webster revealed.
Maisie Place Motorsport is owned by full-time mechanic Maisie Place, who is an ambassador for women in motorsport working in the industry as a driver, coach, rally navigator and pit crew contractor.
“My advice for young women wanting to start a career in motorsport is do not hesitate! It is such a welcoming community, filled with people willing to support and help you Sally is an awesome girl with a bright future, and I am confident opportunities will continue to open up for her as she progresses through her career,” Ms Place said.
Going from not being very interested in racing cars, to learning more about them over the past year and networking with people in the industry, has energised Sally and she can tell that a career in motorsport is what she is meant to be doing. We wish Sally and Maisie Place Motorsport all the best next week at Sydney Motorsport Park!