Waikato’s offroad Grandma a national champ

A Waikato grandmother has become the first New Zealand woman to win a national offroader racing title.After nine years of racing Putaruru’s Samantha Atkins, 51, recently won her class, for offroaders with a rear motorcycle engine up to 1500cc, during the New Zealand National Offroad Racing Championships held in Christchurch.

Atkins, who had five children and eight grandchildren, said it came as a surprise to family and event officials.

“I don’t go by the name Samantha, I go by Sam, so at the national final [the officials] kept saying “and here comes that guy Sam”. When I walked up on stage to get my trophy they said “oh s**t, you’re a chick,” she laughed.

“My boys were quite embarrassing too because they had never seen me race so they were quite shocked.

“They ran up on the stage and started cuddling me and yelling out “we love you mum, we are so proud of you” and everyone was clapping and cheering,” she laughed.

She said having family watch her race was priceless.

“All my grand kids were standing on the sideline going “go nanna,that’s my nanna”. It was cooler than actually racing,” she said.

Atkins said she’s aware being a 51-year-old woman who is into offroaders is far from the norm.

“My friends reckon I am mad because they are all around my age.

“They say “Sam don’t you realise you’re 51?” but I am like Peter Pan, I refuse to get old, and when I am driving I feel like I am 21 again, even if I do feel 51 again when I get out,” she laughed.

She said it was her partner and fabricator Craig Patching, who is currently leading the Offroader Central Series, who got her into the sport.

“When I first meet Craig he was building one.

“I didn’t like speed but when he finished it he said he would take me out through the forest and within five minutes I was yelling at him to go faster.

“I co-drove with him for two years before I decided to get my own car because I really wanted to race.

“We very rarely race against each other, because we are in different classes, but when we do we [don’t encourage each other], we just say I’m going to kick your ass,” she laughed.

She said she hopes to inspire more women to take up the sport.

“Life is too short, you have to live your life and this is really living,” she said.

Source: The Dominion Post