Gracie is Aiming to be V8 Supercars' Next Female Driver
By: V8 Supercars
One of the categories to run through the streets of Queensland at the next V8 Supercars event, the Sucrogen Townsville 400, is the highly competitive Porsche Carrera Cup Australia. And this year, the series has a driver with a difference.
Gridding up alongside experienced and emerging talents – including Craig Baird, Steven Richards, Warren Luff and Nick Percat, all race winners in V8 Supercars and gun co-pilots for the V8 Supercars Endurance Cup later this year – is Renee Gracie.
Gracie, at just 18-years of age, is competing in her rookie season of Carrera Cup with ambition to be the first female to race in the V8 Supercars Championship since Leanne Tander four years ago. Hailing from Kuraby, Queensland, Gracie drives for McElrea Racing and has leapt to the Carrera Cup ranks after an impressive career in karting.
“V8 Supercars is the dream,” Gracie said of her future ambition. “To be on the grid at the Clipsal 500 or Bathurst in a V8 Supercar would be amazing – but my current focus is developing in Carrera Cup and proving that I belong in this category.”
Following the opening three rounds, Gracie’s progress has been commendable. She has finished all eight races so far with a best finish of 16th at the Australian Grand Prix support event.
The step to Carrera Cup is a large one, however the former karting star is adopting a realistic approach to her accelerated career plan.
“I haven’t just taken a big step to race in Carrera Cup, I’ve skipped steps to be here,” she said.
“It’s obviously a very steep learning curve but so far I’m really enjoying it. I could’ve taken an easier option and moved up to state level Formula Ford, then national Formula Ford or Formula 3 but what I am learning by racing Carrera Cup is invaluable.
“The cars are nearly as quick as a V8 Supercar and the level of driving talent is definitely the best outside of the main game. I’m driving for one of the best teams and learning from my teammates Warren Luff and Michael Patrizi, who have raced V8 Supercars.
“I get to learn V8 Supercar tracks such as Clipsal, Townsville, Bathurst and the Gold Coast and I’m working with great sponsors and the media… so there are a number of reasons why racing Carrera Cup made a lot of sense for my career development.”
Inspired by the achievements of Tander and NASCAR star Danica Patrick, Gracie hopes the growing presence of female drivers in world motorsport can be replicated in V8 Supercars. Last month, the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500 took place with four female drivers in the 33-car field.
"Leanne has been great to me and a number of girls in motorsport, providing advice and guidance and obviously I admire Danica for what she has achieved,” Gracie said.
“In a number of motorsport categories worldwide there are more and more females on the grid and I would love to be the next one in V8 Supercars."
Along with the achievements of Tander and Patrick, Gracie takes inspiration from a current young gun in V8 Supercars.
“Many people had doubts about Scott McLaughlin jumping from karts to the Dunlop Series when he was only 16, and now he's still only 20 but he has already won races in V8 Supercars and he's now battling with the best drivers in the sport.
“I see the path that I am taking as very similar to Scott’s and it would be a dream to emulate him in some way.”
For now, Gracie is committed to a multi-year program in Carrera Cup with the goal of progressing to the Dunlop Series or V8 Supercar Championship thereafter.