Tauranga’s Bryan piloted her Honda CBR600-powered sidecar to sixth overall in the national series this year, no mean achievement in a sport dominated by the men and also with so many of them on sidecars equipped with 1000cc engines.
So it’s probably fair to say that 48-year-old mum-of-three Bryan, who works as a rural postie, is also New Zealand’s fastest rural mail delivery person.
“As a sidecar driver, I rely on Jo (Mickleson, her sidecar ‘passenger’, from Hamilton). We are very much in sync with each other and we have had a lot of success,” said Bryan.
“The sidecar people are all very supportive of one another. It’s a family atmosphere in the pits. It’s very competitive on the race track but when someone comes into the pits with a problem, even if they’re your rival, the teams will still get behind one another.
“Our male opponents are all giving us respect … more so now than in the beginning perhaps. At the start I think they thought we were a bit of a joke, but over the years I got better and better and Jo and I started to click and then we gained a certain amount of respect when we started to beat the guys.”
Tauranga’s Bryan believes there is really no handicap being a woman in motorcycle racing.
“As women we think a little differently on the track – we are not so aggressive, calculate the risks and we get faster as a race wears on.
“I’m the only woman sidecar rider in New Zealand and when we raced in Australia, we were the only women’s sidecar team there too.
“I’d like to think I’m an inspiration to other women – I’ve been doing this for 15 years now. Women will come to a ‘have a go’ day at the track and they’ll look at us and feel more comfortable knowing there are already women doing this,” said Bryan.
“My husband (Steve Bryan) is a former New Zealand sidecar champion (in 2007) and he’s been very supportive of me. He has been a passenger for me before and the only thing we really argue about at home is sidecar racing,” she laughed. “He thinks he knows better and I think I know better.
“He’s not racing any more, but he’s still involved by looking after my sidecar for me at race weekends. He criticises my riding and we argue, but then just get on with it really. He’s my mechanic, mentor and best friend.”
Motorcycling New Zealand Women’s Commissioner Sandra Perry said: “Tracey is certainly an inspiration for women motorcycle racers nationwide and for those wanting to race sidecars in particular”.
“I think it’s great that Tracey and Jo have been so successful and plan to do more winning, it would be foolish for anyone to think they wouldn’t,” said Perry.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ
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