Category: Women in Motoring

Women Wednesday: Why I’m glad I didn’t ride with Gugu Zulu

Getting behind the wheel with Robyn Kruger.

When the Volkswagen Golf 7 got launched a few years back, we all met up at Kyalami racetrack to see what the new vehicle was all about. The usual brief was given about the car and what was changed and made better etc etc. Then after a nice lunch, we were all taken to the race track and paired with a skilled driver to show us what the vehicle can do. One of those race car drivers was Gugu Zulu, obviously with everyone knowing who Mr. Zulu is and the skills he possesses, everybody did a Usain Bolt sprint to his car. I wasn’t fast enough so I ended up looking frantically for a car to jump into. A pacific blue Golf 7 caught my eye and standing next to it was a blonde lady with a cool disposition about her. I was the fourth and last person to jump into her car as only four were allowed per vehicle.

Our drivers name was Robyn Kruger, she very was friendly and before we set off, she made sure we all had our safety belts on. After we all made sure our life lines were securely clipped in, all hell broke lose. See, looks can be deceiving. The first time I ever had Wasabi paste, my siblings told me it was just like any other spread. Being young and naive, I believed them and proceeded smear my sushi into this green paste thinking it would add flavour to the raw fish I was eating. The paste did add flavour, a peculiar taste that I wasn’t sure if I enjoyed yet. As I was about to decide if this paste was any good, the burning sensation and numbness started and the tears started rolling.

I must confess, when I stepped into the car with Robyn, I had a similar feeling. I thought to myself this friendly lady will probably take us on a quick ride along the track and this will add flavour to this whole launch. Little did I know, I was going to be thrown around from side to side each corner, tyres screeching for dear life whilst Robyn was breathing down the neck of her colleagues in her blue Golf. For Robyn, this was another day at work, she manhandled the Kyalami circuit apex after apex the same way you can walk around the house in darkness because you’re so familiar with your surroundings.

What do you expect from someone who has been racing carts since the age of five? Yes Robyn as she explains it, has petrol in her veins. At age fifteen, she was racing Superhatch in a Ford Fiesta RSI and won the Class N Championship for two years in a row. The VW Engen Polo Cup is a very competitive one-make series where driver skill is crucial, Robyn placed in the top ten of this series and spent several years participating in these races. As a result of her success, Robyn was invited to race in the Polo R Cup in India and she finished second place in that championship. She was also the fastest South African in the Scirocco Cup shoot out held in Germany. One would think that in order to achieve such a success at an early age, a young lady needs to eat, sleep and breathe racing. Well growing up, when Robyn wasn’t racing, she was doing ballet and tap dancing to keep her busy. Go figure.

Currently Robyn has decided to follow her other calling, which is teaching. That doesn’t mean that her racing days are done. When she’s in the mood, Robyn still gets behind the wheel and does what she does best. In fact, if you’re in Zwartkops raceway on the 8th of August, you may just see her at the Superhatch series. If you see her on the track, make sure you don’t blink because if you do, you might just miss her.

After those amazing few laps we did with Robyn, I swore to myself that I will feature her on my online magazine one day. Fast forward a few years later and here we are today. So I’d like to thank all my colleagues for running to Gugu Zulu’s car that day, because I would have not had the pleasure of meeting someone so passionate about racing as Robyn is. Happy Women Wednesday Motorists.

IMG_92012

 

 

Women Wednesday: Sabine Schmitz

What’s a better way to start off a segment than by featuring one of the most prominent women in the automotive industry? The name Sabine Schmitz is a name synonymous with the Nurburgring, the place where she literally grew up. What happens when you raise children around the smell of high octane fuel? They might just like it. Sabine and her sisters proved that because they were all involved in racing but she was particularly good at it so she pursued it further.

So much so, she was the first woman to win the 24 Hour Nurburgring race in 1996 and 1997. Sabine raced for Porsche and BMW but later she started driving taxis for a living. Her taxi was a special one though, it developed 373KW and had a V10 engine in it. The destination she drove people to, was from the beginning to the end of the Nurburgring in record times. She became known as the “fastest taxi driver in the world”.

You may have seen her on an episode of Top Gear racing Jeremy Clarkson around the Nurburgring. Jeremy was in a Jaguar S Type and she was in a Ford van and she lost, by a mere 9 seconds. She is also a television host on German television and she also owns a school that offers advanced driving course called “Sabine Schmitz Motorsport”. So next time your sister, girlfriend or wife says cars are a “guys thing”, tell her to visit this website every Wednesday and after, ask her if she still feels that way. Happy Women Wednesday Motorists.