Race mechanics take it to the world

Race mechanics Brooke Harris and Louise (Lulu) Clearwater, both of Invercargill, at the NZ Grand...
Race mechanics Brooke Harris and Louise (Lulu) Clearwater, both of Invercargill, at the NZ Grand Prix in Cromwell recently. PHOTO: SHANNON THOMSON
Two Invercargill women are holding their own in the not-so-male dominated world of motorsport.

Race mechanics Louise (Lulu) Clearwater and Brooke Harris were both on the tools at the New Zealand Grand Prix in Cromwell this month.

First-year apprentice Harris has just completed her first motorsport season, working as a number two mechanic for Kiwi Motorsport — an experience she described as "amazing".

"I love it — it’s very full on. It’s quite demanding, but I love it. This is my passion," she said.

Her parents were fans of motorsport and she grew up watching it, but jumping pitside had been a big learning curve.

"It’s really everything. It’s just how it works, what we do, the fine details that go into it. I don’t think people understand, and even I didn’t, how many people and what it takes just to get a car on the track."

Harris said she had not faced too many specific challenges and put it down to being willing to push through and work as hard as everyone else.

"You’ve got to make the pathway for yourself," she said.

"If you’re interested in it, you’ve just got to put your foot in the door. It’s all about who you know, and you’ve just got to make connections and just keep going from there. Because I would never have imagined I’d even be doing this a year ago.

"And now there’s opportunities all over the world for me."

Clearwater is a seasoned mechanic with more than a decade of New Zealand racing under her belt.

Twelve months ago she headed to the United Kingdom to pursue her passion full time, a move which led her to race tracks across the United States, Europe and India, including the inaugural Indian F4 championship.

She was on the team supporting up-and-coming American driver Chloe Chambers, who has been accepted into the 2024 F1 Academy for Campos Racing.

Clearwater was back in New Zealand working as a No 1 mechanic for Giles Motorsport for the Toyota Racing Series, which capped off with the New Zealand Grand Prix.

It seems a far cry from growing up surrounded by Classic Motorsport in Invercargill, but Clearwater credits those early years for cementing her passion.

"Growing up I got to meet some really interesting people around Classic Motorsport and then even coming up through this, now being able to watch previous drivers that have made it all the way to Formula One and all of that sort of thing, being able to sit back and support that has been really cool."

As much as she loved the fast cars and adrenaline, it was the people that made the sport great, she said.

"I’ve always said motorsport would be boring without the people. So I love being a part of a team and getting involved in all of that side too."

Clearwater recently returned to the UK to pursue more motorsport opportunities.