A Honda ride-on lawnmower.. not the most conventional pathway into Motorsport, but hey, here I am!!! I grew up in the premier county (hurlin’ country) and even though I LOVE the sport, Motorsport has just been that bit more exciting for me.
My mam told me that when she found out she was having a baby girl, she was looking forward to all the dresses, dolls and prams… but unfortunately for her, it was overalls, tractors and cars for me!! I have been surrounded by cars all my life, with my dad having a car business in Roscrea. Apparently I was his shadow when I was growing up (and probably still am!), wanting to go with him anywhere he went, especially when it was car related. I still love to road trip with him now to collect cars.
I have a lot of really cool car related memories, that are starting to flood through now, I’m smiling away here as I type. My uncle Edwin who is also very into his cars (especially Alfa-Romeos) took me for a spin one day to collect his new Spider, we left the gates of some house sideways, me with my hands in the air smiling ear to ear, it
sounded great and felt quite quick to me! I remember every time Ed bought a new car, dad would say “What do you want that scrap for?” I can still hear him say it!
My grandad is well known in Roscrea, for both his charm and his mechanical skills. People often stop me (especially when I am in a rush!) to ask if I am his granddaughter and proceed to tell me how great he is, which I love, cos’ he’s a bloody legend! I used to slide underneath cars on the little trolley while he was servicing cars, thinking I was helping, only in the way I’m sure. We’d be up and down the garden taking parts off of cars and I’d be peeking in at him when he’d tell me to look away while he was welding in the garage, with the funny looking mask! All until my granny would ring the bell for dinner at one of course, then we had to go in.
That’s where I learned to drive, they have a huge garden, so this is where the ride-on lawn mower comes in. I wanted to drive that everyday I was out there, I loved it, especially down the hill “flat out”! Our Drought relations were really into motocross bikes, so when the lawnmower wasn’t an option, myself and Jordan would set up a
ramp with tyres and a plank of wood, place his younger brother Andrew under the ramp and we’d cycle over him- madness!! Jordan was that bit more fearless, I wasn’t as good on two wheels!
I believe the first car I learned to drive in was an automatic Merc, round and round the house on my uncles lap, then I moved onto a manual. My grandad always had loads of cars about, so I’d beg everyday to go for a “spin”. I’m not sure my granny liked it though, apparently I used to “tear up the garden”! There’s a photo of me someplace with one arm out the window in a cherry red Citreon Xsara. It’s funny to think back, ten year old me was certain I was going to be a works driver by the age of 21!
I also taught a friend to drive in the very same garden when we were about 12/13, a traumatic experience!! We were going great until I instructed her to press the brake, yep, you guessed it, she hit the accelerator. My granny had a bath tub full of flowers (sounds strange, I know- she has a toilet full of flowers too, don’t ask) we flew right
through the tub in a little Fiat Punto. When we got out of the car I asked my sister not to tell, but of course, she ran down (the little snitch!) the garden to tell on me, still haven’t let that one go! Needless to say, the memory of my granny coming up the garden to see her flowers in bits will remain with me forever (She’s a keen gardener!)
I also have not taught anyone to drive since that day.
Dad rallied when I was growing up, and being part of the service crew meant that I followed him to every rally I could. Mam would have the soup and “sangwiches” made the night before and my uncle Ed would collect me early in the morning to set off for a long day of spectating and servicing. I obviously had one of the most important jobs of the crew, chief damage inspector and cleaner! At each service I would walk around the car, to see if there was any damage, if there was, I’d march right over to dad and his navigator, disgusted to question what had happened, then it was time for tea, a sambo and a debrief of the previous stages. After “the feed”, I would get a cloth and water to wipe down the car. I was always so proud of my dad being a rally driver, I looked up to him the same as I did any WRC driver. I remember one day, when I was hanging out of a hedge in the back arse of nowhere, after a few nettle stings to get a good viewing point, my dad sped by, me waving him “to g’wan!”, a photographer turned and said “who’s that guy? He looks to be going well”, (Cue the Mrs Doyle satisfactory nod!) of course I was only delighted to tell him he was my dad.
I don’t read half as much as I should anymore, but I used to be a big Jacqueline Wilson fan. So much so, it appears as though she inspired me to keep diaries (which are quite cringy) where I used to write about my days out at Motorsport events, tests in rally cars or even going to collect a new car with my dad. The heading for every
entry was “My News by Nicole Drought” with the date printed on the left hand corner- scarleh’. I used to try draw as well, and copy poems- what appears to be a deformed dolphin is on page 11, I was pretty useless at art, even though I loved it.
Anyway, one of the entries was about d’local rally, my main point of the article was about how nice the chips were and how warm my new Subaru rally hat was. At the end then, it was time to write about how well my dad had done- priorities!!
In 5th year at Secondary school, I passed my theory and driving test and was now legal to drive on the road, a very exciting time! I’ve been very lucky to get to drive so many different cars, thanks to my dad’s car business. One day, we were having a school mass (where I was going to be playing music with the choir) and I drove by all the
students and teachers walking to the church in an M-Sport 3.0L twin turbo BMW X5 jeep, I just remember it having such a cool growl when you revved the engine. Myself and the girdles had a very comfy spin at least!
So, how did I get into circuit racing?
To be honest, I was rally mad, so not so long ago, I had absolutely no interest in circuit racing! In fact, my first trip to Mondello was when myself and my dad acquired a Ford Ka rally car, that we planned for me to eventually rally, we took it there for a test day (I got a day off school!!!!) but unfortunately, we didn’t get any further. My dad took a bit of a “career break” from rallying, and what seemed like a lifetime later, he got the itch to go back and do some motorsport events, and so the journey to circuit racing began. I wasn’t particularly happy with this at the time, ‘cos I was still heart-set to become a rally driver, but I supported nonetheless. I followed my dad to every single race for two years (bar one, because I had a college exam) and by then, I had really fallen for circuit racing.
Years and years of part time jobs and I finally had enough saved to buy myself a racing car, probably one of the most exciting days of my life. And with a bounce in my step, I went to the bank and extracted the money. The lady behind the counter asked if I was going on a shopping trip, “Nope, I’m buying a racing car!” I said proudly. And so my adventure into circuit racing began and my wannabe rally driver journey ended- or did it?!
Until next time,