Speedy Emma Gallagher is a pint-sized rising star in the sport of go-karting.
The six-year-old likes going fast and is fearless on the track driving her Suzuki 110cc modified four-gear, go-kart which is personalised with her name above her racing number, 878.
A member of the Ashburton Family Go-Karting Club, Emma has been taking on the big kids for the past year competing in the midget grade for children aged five to nine.
Her go-kart was inherited from older brother Ryan, a two-time New Zealand midget kart champion, so it’s fast.
It can travel up to 80km/hour and Emma is already driving at speeds of 50 to 60km/hour.
She also helps with its maintenance.Her natural abilities have seen her score a number of wins and the Karter of the Day trophy.
But the midget racer’s success shouldn’t come as a big surprise, a the love of motor sport runs in the family.
She has spent many hours hanging with dad Michael and mum Hayley at motor sport events.
Michael is president of the go-karting club and is also a competitive OSCA circuit driver, racing his Mazda RX7.
He also competes in Ashburton Car Club’s annual street sprints.Emma’s brother Ryan, almost 10, also continues his love of go-karting.
He has been racing for the past five years, earned the national titles and now has his eye on the next level.He has just moved into the next age group grade.
Emma has found go-karting quite easy, Michael says.
She drives confidently controlling the accelerator, brake and steering and is getting faster each time she gets behind the wheel.
It will not be long before she takes on gear changes. At the moment the go-kart is put into gear at the start of the race, eliminating the need to change gears on the circuit. It allows her to focus on the other driving skills as well as positioning on the track.
It’s all good family fun, Michael says, which is the club’s focus.
Their monthly race days each month karters of all ages.
They race on a grass paddock circuit and often in available farm paddocks in Wakanui.
Emma has around eight other karters in her age group.
She may be following in her brother’s footsteps but she is driving at her own speed … fast.
– By Toni Williams