Introducing Debbie O'Rourke

Australia's first and only female Australian Top Alcohol Funny Car competitor and the quickest female racer in the country

Date of birth: 1960 something :

Hometown: Salisbury, England (just down the road from Stonehenge)

Lives: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Occupation: Management Consultant

Hobbies: Keeping fit - or trying !

Family: Married to Grant O'Rourke since 1996, son Josh born in 1997

Current racing class: Professional Top Alcohol

Current car: Monte Carlo Funny Car

Toughest thing about drag racing: Cost, lack of corporate backing, and not enough time!

Best win: All of them!

Toughest loss: Electing not to race for the final in the 2003 Winternationals due to track conditions

Favourite competitor: The person in the other lane

Personal car: 2007 Suzuki Swift

Personal Best Quarter-Mile ET: 5.67 seconds

Personal Best Speed: 253mph (approx. 407 km h)

After catching the quarter-mile bug with her husband Grant in 1993, Debbie climbed into the driver's seat herself in 1996 and has never looked back. Back then she ran the O'Rourke's Super Sedan Torana running a best of 9.75 at Calder Park Nationals.

Debbie's star first began to rise in the Australian drag racing scene when she licensed her supercharged small block Torana late in 1999, achieving a 7.34 second result at 201 miles per hour on her first ever full distance pass.

She would later go on to race in the AA/GAS category in the O'Rourke's wild PSI Supercharged LC Torana running 348 cubic inches. On 1st April 2000 in Adelaide, she became the World's quickest and fastest female driver of a small block sedan in the world, running 6.82 seconds at 214mph. She took her first major race win in 2000 (Ravenswood International Raceway's Westernationals, Competition Eliminator).

Two dramatic crashes saw Debbie take a short break in her racing career between 1998 and 2000, before she returned to the sport in a supercharged HK Monaro (the twin of husband Grant's Top Doorslammer), quickly establishing herself as a definite force in the Top Competition and Supercharged Outlaws brackets, before going on to Top Qualify on her way to a Runner-Up result in SCO as part of a controversial 2004 Winternationals. She raced consistently between 2001-2004 reaching a best time of 6.58 seconds at 220 mph.

Soon after, work began on the 1320 Racecars built Monte Carlo Funny Car, with Grant debuting the car in 2004 with an impressive 5.89 second pass straight off the trailer. From there, it was only a matter of time before Debbie's Funny Car journey would land her amongst some of the most competitive fields in Australian drag racing - the professional Top Alcohol bracket.

After starting out in the sportsman classes, Debbie has been concentrating on a Top Alcohol career in a Funny Car since mid-2011, becoming the first and only woman to compete in the high-level professional bracket in a Funny Car.

Debbie soon cemented her place amongst drag racing's elite with a five second pass in December of 2009, and has since gone on to many semi finals over the years in TA since..

"The toughest thing about drag racing is the difference between the 'highs' and the 'lows'. This sport can be an emotional rollercoaster and demands exceptional focus. When you have a great run, you feel euphoric. But conversely, it is really tough when things don't work out like you thought, or when something bad happens. It makes you tough and optimistic, you have to be ready to take the good
with the bad," said Debbie.

"I get asked all the time - why do you do it? They look at me and see a short, sometimes petite, female with a professional job. My answer is always the same, that it puts me out of my comfort zone every time I get in the car. It pushes me to do things that I would never have considered before and I have adopted this approach to other parts of my life, especially to my career. I try to take on the challenge no matter how fearful I am of my ability to do it.

"My advice to other racers is just to follow your heart, and reach out for what you want. You will always find that others think they know better, but only you know what you can achieve, and you only live once!"