Vanessa Gray

SH-29a

 My fingernails get positively annihilated on race weekends but I insist on painting them anyway and wearing mascara at 6am on practice day.

 

SH-18Vanessa has been around racecars since she was little. Mum and dad were petrol heads so with Willowbank Raceway and Archerfield Speedway just a short drive away, Vanessa spent many years perched on a hill with a blanket watching cars go up and back or round and around.

It wasn’t until 2005 when a casual job selling tickets at the Gold Coast Indycar race came along that Vanessa saw an opportunity to work in the sport she loved so much.

By 2011 Vanessa was a popular grid girl, had posed for the Miss V8 Supercars Calendar, stood on the grid for several main game teams and had begun working in merchandise and corporate experiences.

I don’t want to match any kind of stereotype. I don’t want to hide from who I am and what I have done and will do. I was a grid girl, I am now a mechanic. I haven’t changed, I just evolved. It’s survival of the fittest.

 

 

v3At the beginning of 2012, an opening at Chequered Flag Media and a very optimistic young boss gave Vanessa the opportunity to look after public relations and media for several teams and drivers in the Dunlop Series, Australian GT Championship and Porsche Carrera Cup.

Travelling all over the countryside visiting iconic racetracks, taking gratuitous arty photos of race cars and chasing drivers around for interesting comments kept Vanessa busy and very well connected.

A brief stint in commentary and event management at Winton Motor Raceway added to the varied list of skills and experiences picked up along the way.

Media management and journalism was an unexpected but pleasant left turn in Vanessa’s career, but by the end of the 2012 season she was already looking for a new challenge.

 I honestly hate flying, but arriving at race tracks squeezed into a hire car or overcrowded team bus, now that is living. Seriously, the worst part of a race weekend is waving goodbye to your team mates for another few weeks or months. I know I want to kill them most of the time, but I really do love those guys.

On a roadtrip from Brisbane to Adelaide via everything in between, Vanessa stopped in to check out the facilities at Motorsports Training Australia at Wodonga in country Victoria. Unable to shake the urge to get her hands properly dirty, Vanessa uprooted and moved to Albury NSW late 2012 so she could enrol for the 2013 Certificate III in motorsport.

I technically was on a short road trip to Sydney for the Eastern Creek round of V8 Supercars in 2012, but my subconscious clearly had other ideas because I packed almost my entire wardrobe and most of my shoe collection into the back of the Astra. I left Eastern Creek on the Monday and found myself in Albury that night rather than Brisbane. Strange? Yes. Out of character? No, not really.

Now, well into 2014 with a new skillset acquired from the highly successful Motorsports Training Australia, Vanessa is setting her sights even higher. Employed full time in manufacturing and marketing with high end carbon fibre design company CarbonAero, and working race weekends with Radical Australia, Vanessa has taken it upon herself to completely eliminate sleep from her life and begin Stiletto Performance.

 

 

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