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Working and learning together by Racing Together   

[supplied by NIAA]

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(From left) Front – Amber Rahurahu, Ayesha Burke, Tayla Warner, Karlai Warner, Ryan Jenyns. Rear (L – R) Tristian Mitchell Delaney, Braedyn Cidoni (driver), Locky McHardy, Charlie Chambers, Jeremiah Wyllie-Coolwell. Image: Racing Together Ltd.

In mid-2020, World Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton called for an end to racism.

At that point, Manager of Racing Together Limited, Garry Connelly and his wife Monique decided to act.

‘For a few years Monique and I had been thinking of doing something to provide an opportunity to Indigenous youths to enter the sport, but it was Lewis’ call out that prompted us to move,’ Garry said.

They formed the first all-Indigenous motor racing team in Australia based in Logan, Queensland to compete in the Hyundai Racing Series Queensland.

‘Motorsport, like any sport, has enormous potential to provide a source of enjoyment, motivation and pride, to those who participate, be it as a driver, mechanic, race engineer or event official,’ Garry said.

‘We held 2 open days at Norwell Motorplex in Logan, where we put contenders through a series of tests including a simulator, hand/eye reaction tests, media and other interviews, on track driver testing and personal assessment.’

Almost 100 young people, 12 to 16 years, applied from which 30 were selected to undergo a day and a half of intensive training and assessment. From this group, 10 were selected to form the team.

Team member Ryan Jenyns said he wanted to be part of a racing team his whole life.

‘This is the best opportunity I’ve had and I’m excited to see where it takes me,’ he said.

Garry has found an astonishing level of progress in the team since it was formed.

‘Mechanical skills have been “soaked up” quickly and thoroughly. They have been fast-tracked on their knowledge through mentoring by some of Australia’s top drivers,’ he said.

Tayla Warner said she was a little nervous when she applied to join the project because she knew little about racing or about cars.

‘But I couldn’t miss such an amazing opportunity to learn about it and actually see first-hand if I enjoyed it. Which I did! I am so glad I got out of my comfort zone,’ she said.

Charlie Chambers said he’s learned that motorsport isn’t just about the driver.

‘It’s about the team and working all together to get the best end result,’ he said.

But in any team sport there is individual growth.

‘I have learnt my strengths and weaknesses when rebuilding our Excel,’ Karlai Warner said.

As the team progresses, Garry is witnessing changes week by week.

‘Prior to the first race meeting there was a mixture of nervousness and excitement,’ he said.

‘There is now also a strong sense of purpose and ambition particularly from some of the girls who want to become mechanics.’

The project is not just about racing but about personal and career development with an emphasis on STEM careers in motorsport and the media.

And Ryan has learned one of the most important lessons in sport and life.

‘I’ve learned a lot about what racing really is and how everything works. I’ve come to realise that it’s not handed to you on a silver platter. You have to work for everything to be the best.’

Good luck to Australia’s first all-Aboriginal motor racing team!

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