SHE may be just 17-years-old but Monique Bailey has been around speedway racing far longer than her age alone would suggest.
The daughter of five-time ACT Speedway Champion Doc Bailey and the younger sister of fellow race driver Kerryn, it’s no exaggeration to say Monique was born into the high-speed sport.
“We used to race out at Tralee and I can remember when [Monique’s mother] Sue was pregnant and she was still helping out in the pits,” dad Doc recalls. “Then the girls came along and she had to move back to the hill but once they were old enough, she was back in the pits again so it’s been awhile.
“I can remember when I was five-years-old or so watching my mum and uncle go around so I’ve been around [speedway] all my life and Kerryn and Monique have been around it all theirs.
“I didn’t think I’d have two girls who’d both be into motor racing but I said if they wanted to give it go they could and they both decided they liked it.”
Not only did Monique show an early interest in the sport, she’s also gone on to show plenty of her father’s skill behind the wheel.
The Queanbeyan High student recently wrapped up her final year racing in the junior speedway division where she finished in second place behind Canberra’s Liam Heaton.
Now, the teenager is looking to follow in the footsteps of her older sister in moving up to the senior Aussies Sixes division next season.
“Kerryn has been beating some of the men out there in the Aussie Sixes this year,” Monique said of her goal to follow in her sibling’s footsteps. “It gives me a bit more confidence knowing that I can do the same thing if I stick to it like she has and just keep doing it as consistently as she has.”
In order to achieve the transition, Monique recently acquired a new Ford Falcon AU but said she’s still not entirely comfortable with the more powerful car.
“I’m a bit scared even to get in it just because it’s so big compared to my little [Toyota] Corolla,” she said. “Dad and I have been working pretty hard to fix it back up though so hopefully it should be right to go when racing starts back up again in September.”
Monique’s enthusiasm for the sport remains undimmed despite being involved in a terrifying smash at Canberra toward the end of last season that left her decidedly shaken.
After rolling her Toyota Corolla onto its point during a heat at the National Capital Speedway, Monique’s car was struck in the roof with the point of impact only slightly above the driver’s side seat.
“It was pretty hard to go back out after that,” Monique admits. “I wanted to because I knew if I didn’t, it would make the next meeting twice as hard so I went back out but it just felt like something was going to happen again.
“When I got to the same corner where I rolled I thought, ‘it’s going to happen again’, so it was definitely hard. Even in the next meeting I was still thinking about it but you’ve just got to talk yourself out of it and get on with it like you were doing before it happened.
“It’s something that was always going to happen eventually when you race so hopefully I’ve got it out of the way now and it won’t ever happen again.”