Stock car racer near Banbury hopes to be the first woman to win a major title
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Catherine Harris from Winderton comes from a family of stock car racers, but she wants to create her own legacy as the first female driver to claim a major championship.
The 21-year-old has been involved with the sport since she was a baby, following her father, Mick, around the country and watching him race.
Catherine’s older brother, Tom, is also a three-time BriSCA Formula 1 Stock Car World Champion and is currently considered one of the best drivers in the sport.
Catherine said: "It’s a family thing really, because I have two brothers that currently race and my uncle races as well.
"I used to race Ministox between the ages of 11 and 15 and moved over to Formula 1 stock cars at 16, which is where me and Tom race now."
Although still young for the sport, Catherine has gained a considerable amount of experience and is now competing at the top level of the sport, challenging for the major titles.
She said: "My biggest highlight of my career so far came this year at the British Championship at Hednesford Hills Raceway.
"I started the race in pole position, being the highest points scorer at the previous meeting, and was second right until the last corner.
"On the corner, I went for a last bend lunge, and it didn’t quite pay off, so I crashed and couldn’t finish, but that was probably the highlight for me, being there with a chance to win."
The sport of stock car racing is unique to most motorsports in the fact that contact is not only allowed but promoted, with the drivers doing their utmost to wreck competitors cars.
Catherine says that even after racing competitively for five years, she still gets an adrenaline rush every time she participates in a race.
She said: "Everybody that does stock car racing gets a buzz from it, and that's definitely a part of why we all do it.
"Our sport being full contact makes it more interesting and separates it from other forms of racing. We race on short oval tracks, so we don’t go as fast as some sports, but the full contact element is definitely a big part of why we enjoy it so much."
On Saturday, Catherine will enter the BriSCA Formula 1 Stock Cars World Championship, due to take place at Northampton International Raceway.
The raceway is a shale track, meaning it is composed of dirt, loosely packed shale, and crushed rocks, making the race more dangerous with more extreme drifts on the bends.
Catherine, who is borrowing one of her brother Tom’s cars for the race, says that it will be the ultimate chance for her to prove herself at the highest level of the sport in front of thousands of spectators.
The Winderton driver said: "It’s definitely not a female sport; it’s male-dominated, but there are more females coming into it now, and after coming so close at the British Championships, I would love to be the first female to go down in history as winning a major title.
"I wouldn’t say I’m expecting to win it, but I’m never going to rule myself out, and I would love to finish in the top 10."