Endeavoring for highly successful CAMS accredited officials, the Women of Australian Motor Sport (WAMS) and CAMS enter their fifth year of Officials Exchange Programs. In conjunction with the Singapore Motor Sports Association and Women in Motor Sport New Zealand (WiMNZ) organization, WAMS is continuing to build the capacity of women in motor sport by promoting and encouraging the participation of female motor sport officials. WAMS took the time to catch up with Shelly McSaveny, the New Zealand recipient of the Virgin Australia Supercars Trans-Tasman Female Officials Exchange program and Australian official Susie Brook, who took on Formula 1 in Singapore as part of the WAMS Officials Exchange Program.
For many motor sport fanatics, The Great Race, Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, is the pinnacle round of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship (VASC). For New Zealand official, Shelly McSaveny, it was an opportunity like none other. Recipient of the Virgin Australia Supercars Trans-Tasman Female Officials Exchange program, McSaveny spent the weekend putting her skills and knowledge into practice. The Women of Australian Motor Sport (WAMS) committee chatted with McSaveny throughout her time here ‘down under’.
Before we get into the weekend, tell us a little about yourself?
My husband and I own a tyre and mechanic shop and a car yard. We are a little car mad and have a wee collection of cars to our name, I think it was 18 at last count! I volunteer at Canterbury Car Club for a few different disciplines of motorsport; Pursuit Sprints, Drift, club days and race meetings. I have also competed in Navigation Trials for the last few years as the driver of our three man crew and this season I am trying my hand as a navigator. So, cars and motorsport are more of a way of life than a hobby.
The combination of WAMS and Women in Motor Sport New Zealand (WiMNZ) again joined forces to present the officials exchange program. What expectations did you have going into the weekend?
I wanted to see what it was like at a major event and get involved at other tracks. I compare the differences between what I do now and how other tracks do things. I want to develop my capacity in motorsport and to come to Australia just took this goal one step further.
This has been such a fantastic dream come true and an immense opportunity for me as an official. It has given me the confidence to ask to attend future events at different tracks to further extend my knowledge.
I was also on a flag point for the first time ever so that was a new experience. The Stewards and Assistant Clerk of Course play a bigger part in a larger event like Bathurst so it was interesting to see that in practice. It was also very different for me not to see the whole circuit from the control tower! My home track is a lot smaller than Bathurst! The sheer number of volunteers was also really pleasing to see and everybody was really friendly.
Are women in motorsport perceived the same in Australia as New Zealand?
I think women in motorsport are truly welcomed in both New Zealand and Australia. I have never actually felt like I have been given special treatment nor the need to prove myself because I am a woman. Motorsport is actually one of few aspects in life where I feel treated as an equal. Granted I don’t compete, so it might be a different story on the track behind the wheel of a car.
I was buzzing before I went and I am still buzzing now. It was such a fantastic opportunity for me. I highly recommend the Exchange Program to others! It was an amazing experience! I got to observe and be part of many aspects of volunteering and event management that I haven’t yet been exposed to. Seeing how it works on a grander scale really puts things into perspective. In a couple of years or so I would like to look at training to become a Steward.
Melbourne official and Australian recipient Rebecca Armstrong heads to this weekends’ ITM Auckland Supersprint event.