Kelly Handley advocating female participation in motor sport

Kelly Handley’s introduction to motor sport came via her husband, Duncan. He started doing track days when he bought a sports car many years ago.

“I’m not the kind of person that likes sitting on the sideline, so I jumped into the driver’s seat at an Oran Park track day, and the rest is history as they say,” Handley said.

Handley initially got into navigating because Duncan gets horribly travel sick! TARGA Tasmania was on both of their bucket lists, but since there was no chance Duncan would make it through the first stage without turning green, Handley jumped into the nav seat.

“I loved it from the moment I did my first prologue at George Town, worked out I was not too bad at navigating and have ended up doing more racing than Duncan over the years as a result. In fact, all going to plan next year will be my 15th Targa Tasmania.

“I’ve now been participating in motor sport at a club, state and national level for 15+ years, across a range of other disciplines including gravel rallying, super sprints, motorkhanas and hill climbs.  I’ve also been an active member of CAMS affiliated clubs through this time including taking on leadership roles such as the Vice President of the Skyline Club NSW.”

Handley believes the people you meet and friendships you make with people from all walks of life is one of the biggest reasons she stayed in the sport for so long.
“There are many amazing people in my life today who I would have never met if not for Motorsport.

“The thing I love specifically about rally is the teamwork that goes into getting a car to the finish line and the fact that it’s not just your own service crew but the rally field that’s got your back. We all help and look out for each other & do everything we can to make sure everyone makes the finish line.”

Handley attributes her self-confidence to her career in motor sport, “when you get into a rally car as a navigator, you take on a huge responsibility, and it has given me the ability to perform well under pressure and maintain focus. It’s also given me lots of practical life skills like being able to change a tyre quickly and diagnose and fix basic car problems.

“Finally – and most importantly – I love that motor sport is an equaliser when it comes to gender – many of the best drivers I’ve navigated for just so happen to be women including Matilda Mravičić, Melinda Bergmann and Luana Garwood. In fact, I stood on my first TARGA podium with a woman (Matilda at TARGA Wrest Point).

“I’ve always been an advocate for women’s equal participation in all areas of life, and I love that rallying is the most advanced in this area within motor sport. TARGA is really leading the way in this – something like almost 40% of participants are women (accounting for competitors, service crews, officials and of course the organising team!    

“The opportunities really are endless, and it’s so much easier to get involved than people think.

“I think it’s fair to say Motorsport has a reputation for being a male-dominated sport and that can be very intimidating. But it’s also absolutely changing, and in fact, some of the biggest supporters of women in motor sport I know are men.  

“The way we accelerate this change is with initiatives such as this – promoting the many ways women are involved and achieving in the sport.

“The biggest challenge is women don’t necessarily realise how easy it is to get involved in Motorsport and the many ways you can do this. You don’t have to be in a race car to be involved.  In my experience, the people involved in motor sport are all very welcoming, and like many volunteer organisations always have many roles to fill.

“In the context of TARGA, this can be joining a service crew, getting involved as an official or even standing behind a camera/video camera!

“The key really is continuing to cover and celebrate the many great women involved in the sport, supported by the message that everyone can do the same.”

International Women’s Day takes place in Sunday, March 8th. For more information, visit