Racing drivers come in all forms and from all walks of life. Not everyone can be a Formula One driver or WRC competitor, as much as most of us want to be, and so many great drivers from grassroots motor racing never make a page in the newspaper.
Car and Bike News are working at changing the promotion of club and state drivers by sitting down with them and asking questions so you can get to know who you are watching and racing against.
This week we spoke with Mel Bergmann. Mel and our own editor used to race in the same category and always enjoyed good battles and chats at the track. Mel has advanced to rallying and other forms of racing and is one half of an all-female line-up in the Queensland Rally Championship.
With goals set high, but not out of reach, Mel is working hard to become a rally champion. Get to know Mel.
Name: Mel Bergmann
DOB: 40+ years old
What was your first car? Renault 18 (…. But don’t tell anyone!)
What is your current car? Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX gravel rally car
What is your ideal car? Evo IX is my ideal gravel rally car. For tarmac rally the Porsche 911 or similar.
Have you ever been done for speeding? A couple of times, but all minor. Eg, once I was caught by a camera doing 75 in a 60 zone, trying to get a run up to make it up a steep hill in an absolute #%^*box of a van!
What’s your philosophy of life? Never, ever put off your dreams. Just do it and stuff what everyone else thinks.
Do you get road rage and what do you do? Nope, never. All my aggression is either left at the gym or thrashing a rally car.
What are you like as back-seat driver? Fine! No issues
Where do you stand on fluffy dice? Haha! Definitely not, as they obstruct your vision.
Have you ever run over an animal? I once clipped an echidna in a hire car when I was servicing at a rally for my husband in central Queensland – a few quills were still in the tyres when we handed it back J
Favourite Race Track? Phillip Island
Have you driven this track? Yes; it was so. Much. Fun. I was lucky to enough to be offered a drive of a Porsche 968 in a production sports event a few years back.
What major Race Series do you follow? The Queensland Rally Championship – rallying in Queensland is very strong and seriously competitive right now.
What do you think of the way motor racing is conducted in Australia? I know a lot of people talk about what is wrong and how things could be improved (& this is important), but I think we forget how much talent, dedication, engineering innovation and passion we have in Australian motorsport.
Favourite Driver that you look up to and respect? Always and forever love Michele Mouton (French former World Rally Championship driver in the Audi Quattro, finished runner up the WRC in 1982) – such talent, passion and determination.
Best race car you have driven and what made it so good? I drove Gregg Hansford’s / Mazda Australia Bathurst 12 hour winning RX7 in a demonstration race around Eastern Creek. A complete honour. Also, driving a factory Mazda 6 in Targa Tasmania 2007 was another huge honour.
How long have you be racing? I have been racing since you were a kid Lee! Haha! Seriously though, it’s probably been 20 years since I started out in Motorkhana, and 10 (on and off) driving in rallies.
What was your first race event and how did you go? My first rally as a driver was in 2003 (I think?) in a friend’s Toyota Corolla. I was deeply scared, profoundly shook and thrilled – plus we won class!
What racing do you currently compete in? The Queensland Rally Championship.
Do you do anything for race fitness? Gym/PT – but not enough.
What does racing mean to you? It’s too hard to put into words really. When my co driver + Evo + I are flowing seamlessly; it feels like we are on another level … it’s almost spiritual.
Where do you want to be in racing? My co driver Larisa Biggar and I are working towards winning the Queensland Rally Championship.
If you could drive any race car in the world what would it be and why? Audi Quattro: that sound.
Who is your biggest supporter? My husband Paul; team manager. I simply couldn’t live my dreams without his incredible hard work, rally car smarts and personal support. My second biggest supporter is my co-driver Larisa Biggar. Her contribution is more under the radar, but super important. I am constantly amazed by her passion and dedication to our rallying.
Final Words: Rally is the most challenging and exhilarating motorsport you will ever do. Get onto it!
Photos sourced from Facebook.