Speedway star Laura is absolutely fearless
- Laura Byrnes started her racing career aged 11 in junior Speedway
- She’s one of just a few female Speedway race car drivers in Late Models within Australia and has led the national team in Junior Sedans
- Known for fearless driving and her hot pink racing suit, Steel Blue’s Pink Boots were an obvious choice for Laura
Laura Byrnes is never happier than when she’s hurtling around a racetrack at 150 kilometers an hour.
To her legion of fans, 28-year-old Laura is the “pocket rocket” — one of the very few female racing car drivers on Australia’s Speedway circuit. Thanks to her fearlessness on the racetrack, and her bright pink racing suit, Laura is someone who stands out — despite standing just 150 centimeters tall.
“I was born nine weeks premature and I’m still the size of the average 12-year-old; I haven’t grown,” Laura said. “I did lots of sports growing up to try to feel a bit better about myself, I guess, and to feel that inclusivity you can get in sports. I played basketball and I could never understand why I was never picked for game day. It’s obvious to me now: I was the smallest on the team.
“I wanted to be part of a sport where my size didn’t matter, where my gender didn’t matter, my background didn’t matter. I was chasing a feeling of being accepted, being able to be myself and not feeling disadvantaged because I was small.”
Fearless from a young age
“I always had a love of anything going fast,” Laura said. “I inherited that from my dad. I got my first motorbike when I was about five and through that he realized I had ‘the need for speed’, as they say. He started taking me to Speedway.
“I remember the day they said on a PA announcement that you could start racing from the age of 10. I was in the back of the ute with my dad, and I turned to him and said, ‘I want to be a race car driver’.”
At first, Laura’s dad, Mark, thought it was probably just a phase. It wasn’t. Aged 11, Laura started her racing career.
“It was a bit tricky trying to see over the dash and reach the gear and reach the pedals,” she said. “I literally had steel blocks on the pedals, so I was able to reach.”
A career and confidence
Laura’s dad is an engineer and continues to help modify her race cars today, just as he did when she was a kid. It’s still a sport they enjoy together, even as Laura’s career nears its two-decade mark. She credits him with enabling her success in the sport.
That success includes being Late Models Rookie of the Year in 2020, being second overall in the Winter Series and top 10 in the Pro Dirt Series and Motorplex Track Championship. She was the first woman to win the Perth Motorplex Track Champion for Production Sedans. She has captained Team Australia in overseas competitions and been Australia’s fastest female driver in Speedway.
“But if you strip away everything, the trophies, the achievements, what I’ve done has 100% shaped me,” Laura said. “I went from a kid you could barely get boo out of, to someone who is really confident in themselves. That confidence has translated to a lot of different areas in my life.”
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Sharing her skills with the next generation
Laura is now sharing her skills with the next generation of young female drivers, volunteering to mentor young girls and drivers through Motorsport Australia’s Girls on Track program. She hopes to use her popularity and celebrity to encourage more girls into careers in racing.
“In juniors, the gender split is about 50/50,” she said. “But a lot of girls drop out after juniors, so it’s about retention.
“I’m really proud of what I’ve been able to do and if I can help inspire the next generation coming through, then I feel like I’ve done my job.”
Laura’s catchphrase is “stay fearless”. If Laura can instill the same fearlessness that has defined her career in the next generation of young female racing drivers, then the future of Australian Speedway looks very bright indeed.
"If I can help inspire the next generation coming through, then I feel like I’ve done my job."
Why Laura wears Steel Blue work boots
While she’s fearless on the racetrack, Laura is perhaps happiest in the shed.
“On the weekend I’m in my work boots, in my steel caps, in my work pants, and I’m in the shed all the time,” she said.
Her boots of choice? Steel Blue’s Pink Southern Cross boots, of course.
“They match the pink of my car perfectly!” she said. “So, they’re pretty much the only boots I wear. I’ve grown up around my Dad wearing Steel Blue boots also.”
Steel Blue’s Pink boots help raise money for breast cancer charities — a cause close to Laura’s heart.
“My beautiful aunty passed away from breast cancer last year,” she said. “That’s another reason I don’t take the pink boots off. It’s a conversation starter. I get lots of comments and then I can open up about the amazing message behind them. It’s awesome that they’re able to do that.”
Check out Steel Blue’s Pink Southern Cross boots, which raise money for breast cancer charities, here. Head to your local Steel Blue distributor to discover work boots that are a mark of true skill, or shop online.