Recently I had the good fortune to have a conversation with a young lady about her short but fast racing career which spanned Ireland, the UK, USA and Europe.  During this conversation she enquired about the Kids in Western Australia and how they were going. She did ask me to pass on a small message to hopefully lift their spirits.
“My advice for the kids would be to never give up on their dreams. It may seem like they are far away, but if you keep believing in yourself you’ll achieve wonderful things! But most of all, have fun! Drag racing isn’t always about winning, it may feel good to win, but it’s not the most important thing either!” Gabrielle McDonald [Top Fuel Pilot]

Who is Gabrielle McDonald?

Hi everybody, I’m Gabby McDonald I have finished my final year as a Psychology Student and for those of you who don’t know me, I am a Top Fuel Pilot. What does that mean, you ask? I drive a 300mph, 8,000 BHP beast called a top fuel dragster.

I’ve been racing since I was 13 years old. I started out in a Junior Dragster and somehow managed to find myself in a Top Fuel Dragster at the age of 19. Most people didn’t think I could do it and a lot of them thought it was stupid of the team owner, Rune Fjeld, to let me have a go. But I think I managed okay. I am currently the first ever Irish Top Fuel Pilot, the youngest licenced female in Europe, along with holding the quickest licencing pass in Europe.

As I said previously I started out in junior dragsters. I discovered drag racing randomly while in California with my parents. I saw four dragsters on a rail and challenged my dad to a race, he himself used to race in Mondello Park in his 20’s. So I hopped into one and fell in love instantly! I grew up in the modelling and acting industry, so cars were never really on my radar, even though both of my granddads collected old cars. I guess I knew then, that was what I wanted to do. A year and a half later I got my Jr licence and began competing in the June of that year. We got a lot of “here comes the Paddy’s!” or “Top of the mornin’ to ya!” or “Potato”. We were never taken seriously really. But that only fuelled me more. I love it when people tell me I can’t do something, because I will always prove them wrong! By the age of 15 people started to realise my ability after I had knocked out the championship leader in the first round and made it to the semi finals.

However, it wasn’t really until the next year that everyone really took notice and really began to respect me as a driver. I had decided then that this year was my year and I was going to come home with a championship under my belt, come hell or high water. And that’s exactly what I did. However, I took home three championships. I became the first Irish person, first female and first non-UK person to win all three championships. I was also the second person to do it. I was completely elated! Later that year I made a trip out to the USA to race at an IHRA track called i-57. That was where I met Bob Bode; he is a famous Funny Car driver from the NHRA. He was practically royalty to me. He predicted that within 5 years I would become a Top Fuel Pilot. At 17, I thought he was crazy and said more like 10, but as fate would have it, I drove the beast for the first time 2 years later and finally got my licence at the age of 21.