World Women’s Day: Tonia Attard, US Editor


Tonia Attard, US editor

I have always had a thing for speed. Even when I learned to walk, I didn’t—I ran. That can perhaps be traced back to my parents, both of whom worked in various types of racing during the 60s and 70s.

It could also just be the way I’m made: the way the sound of a engine shattering a still morning stirs my soul like nothing else can, the way rounded fenders and wide wheels make my heart skip a beat, that’s just me. I would rather be elbow deep in an engine at a dirt track than out shopping any day.

That’s not to say I don’t enjoy doing things that are typically considered to be feminine—I do—just not as much as working on cars and watching racing: and by racing, I mean real racing, as it was when legends thundered down the hallowed walls of epic tracks like Indy, Monza, Monte Carlo, and the little dirt tracks of North Carolina.

I’m an indiscriminate race fan. If it has wheels and rolls and can be raced, I’m pretty much game. Again, perhaps that is attributed to the people I grew up with, or perhaps it’s my own competitive nature. I will watch, on television and live, any racing I can: dirt cars, sprint cars, NASCAR, Indy Car, hill climbs, and of course my favorite—Formula 1. There is nothing like Formula 1, the sounds those car make are the stuff dreams are made of, and they have been in my dreams for more years than I can count.

There is something special about every series: something magical about the sideways slide of a dirt car, the high banks of Daytona, and the vastness of Indy. There is nothing, however, like the feeling that emanates from Monza when the Ferraris roll onto the track, nothing like the tight corners of Spa, or the complicated nature of Hockenheim. Formula 1 is something special, something intangible, something…dare I say, magical? It is, and for any fan you need not explain it further.

That all being said, without question Michelle Mouton is my favorite female driver. Yes, I realize she was a rally driver (did I mention I love rallying too?) but she was a damn good one. I knew the first time I saw her drive I was seeing something special. She could really drive, and she still can. There is no need for her to pose for PlayBoy or lay across a car for attention—she could drive one, and her driving spoke for itself. She was brilliant and bold and always behaved with class, while still remaining fun and exciting, both on and off the track. She hung the rear end of her Audi Quattro over the edge of Pikes Peak without fear and gave the men a run for their money every time she was in the car. As if that wasn’t enough, she could work on her own car too. She was a mechanic, a driver—and to this woman, a hero.

Speed is still my thing. I drive too fast (although carefully, of course) all the time. I live for those moments of open road when I turn my car loose and I can revel in the sound of the engine. I wait impatiently all winter for the next spring when the sweet sounds of engines roar to life and my soul smiles again.

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