Eleven-year-old Brooke Etherden is looking forward to racing her brightly coloured Charade at Rockhampton on Saturday at the Showgrounds.
Eleven-year-old Brooke Etherden is looking forward to racing her brightly coloured Charade at Rockhampton on Saturday at the Showgrounds. Sharyn O'Neill

Young driver's speedy in pink

FOR most 11-year-old girls, playing charades is the ultimate, but for Brooke Etherden, it is all about driving them.

It is a case of feast or famine at the speedway and, so long as the weather behaves, Saturday night's meeting at Rockhampton Showgrounds promises to provide a banquet.

“It has turned out to be a huge night,” Rockhampton Saloon Car Club president Josh Keene said.

Taking centre stage will be the young drivers with the AFCF Juniors.

Keene explained the category of racing is for competitors aged 10 to 16 years and is faster than Fender Benders.

“They drive mainly the (Daihatsu) Charade Hatchbacks and they are pretty quick,” he said.

Just one local racer has nominated for this category and that is Brooke, the 11-year-old daughter of regular racing star Darryl Etherden.

A veteran of two race meetings at Maryborough and one at Mackay, the St Anthony's student admitted she was excited at the prospect of racing on home soil.

“I think I have been going good,” she stated.

Brooke said she has been driving since March but doesn't believe this achievement has made an impact with fellow students.

“They don't really think about it,” she said with a big smile.

Perhaps that will all change when the youngster starts winning races.

One fan of Brooke's who does not enjoy watching her race is her mother Julie.

“She is always very nervous,” Brooke said.

For the time being she said she is just enjoying the fun and has no big plans to continue when older.

“I just enjoy racing with the juniors and going out and meeting people,” she said.

Even if Brooke is not at the front of the pack on Saturday, she will certainly be visible in her pink Charade with the number two on the roof, and, needless to say, all the racing accessories, such as the helmet, are colour coordinated with the car.

Keene is hopeful youngsters watching this division might gain an interest in racing themselves and he said the club is encouraging them to turn up at the track early to meet the drivers and look at their machines.

A bonus for Rockhampton is the strong numbers nominating due to the division having its recent state titles washed out, with the result being a lot of drivers looking around for a venue to compete at.

Another division where the number of entries has by far exceeded expectations is in the Super Stockers.

Keene said when he went to Maryborough earlier this year, he was impressed with the racing of a 20/20 event.

While the event he watched was in the Super Streets division, he thought he would bring it back to Rockhampton for racing in the Super Stockers.

The concept of 20/20 racing is to have two drivers for each car nominated with each of those drivers completing a 20-lap race.

It was originally hoped that, with it being the first run at the Showgrounds, about a dozen cars might give it a go.

“We have 24 cars nominated, it's shaping up to be really good,” Keene said.

Once the nominations are in, it will be interesting to see who the named drivers have taken on board as a total of 48 drivers suggests there will be a few having a drive who usually compete in other divisions.

Keene said the action does not end there.

The Modified Production series will be going around and also a contest between Rockhampton and Mackay in the Go Karts.

If that is not enough to thrill spectators then there are also the regular divisions of V8AMCA Nationals and Fender Benders.

Keene said organisers have made life a little more interesting in these divisions too.

Fender Benders will not know until the night the format for racing with staggered starts as well as rotation of travel in the hands of organisers.

For the AMCA division it is a straight challenge with Rockhampton drivers taking on The Rest with about 12-14 drivers expected to nominate.

In between the multitude of divisions on display there will be visit from the Man in Red with heaps of giveaways.

Keene said gates open at 4pm with racing set to get underway at 6pm.

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