Interviewed by Deshni // Pics by Liza
Tell us a little about yourself?
I am Liza Van Zyl I am 39 years old, married to Adriaan Van Zyl aged 41 and two children. A son named Rikus aged 18 and a daughter named Abygail aged 16.
We live in Alberton, Gauteng and race mostly in Vereeniging at our home track named Ultimate Raceway. I race V 8 Sprint cars on a quarter mile tar oval track.
“ I love racing, It would be very difficult for me to stop.”
I started racing a year before my husband did. I am one of three ladies that race Sprint cars in South Africa. At first I raced for someone else named Charles Carlson Snr, the car I raced belonged to him and we maintained it.
This was a good way to start racing V8 Sprints to see if you can race them or want to race them, seeing it is very expensive to buy one of these cars.
I raced his car for a year and 3 months before buying our own. I have an amazing husband that builds, works, and repairs and maintain our race cars. He is so good to me without him it would have never been possible to live my dream! After being my Pit mechanic for a year, he also started racing Sprints with me.
What’s your latest racing accomplishment thus far?
In 2013 I achieved 3rd place in Club Championships for the year. I finished 5th overall in the 2013 Nationals. I also won my first overall win for the night in October 2013. The first one in the 7 years that I have been racing.
At what age did you start racing?
I started racing in 2006 at the age of 32, wish that I could have started at an earlier age. However finances didn’t allow it. Sprint car racing is an very expensive sport.
What has been your favorite car to drive on and of the track?
My favourite car is definitely my Sprint car to drive! It has amazing Horsepower and gives a huge Adrenalin rush. I drive a Maxim Chassis Sprint car which is actually made for dirt track racing, however we convert them to race on tar too. I got a proper “pavement” car too like the Americans call it which is made for tar racing only. My husband bought it for me in the USA in December 2013. We are still busy with it giving it a makeover and doing changes before I will hit the race tracks with it. On the public roads I drive a BMW 335i Motorsport. My other passion! BMW’s fast ones! He he he I love driving my 335, it is a superb vehicle and very fast too… sjoooo! Before the 335 I had an E46 style M3 was just as amazing car… loved it.
What is the highlight of your racing career?
I must say I think the highlight of my career was racing in the USA in July 2013.
I raced at a track called Dixie in Michigan state. So that part of my dream has come true. Would love to do it again! There tracks are bigger than ours longer and wider and is also banked, the cars pick up a lot more speed there. I finished 7th place in my race over there in the B Main race. Missed the A main transfer race with two spots. But I had a ball it was the fastest I have ever driven a Sprint car.
What is left on your list of motoring goals?
On my list of motoring goals I would like to get an SA nr still. Would be great to become part of History by achieving an SA nr in Sprint car racing. There has never been a lady driver that has achieved this. I was very fortunate to have raced in the USA in 2013. Made history there by being the first South African Lady driver to race Sprints in the USA.
Who or what has been your inspiration & how has this guided you throughout
I remember as a child being at the race tracks and rooting for my favourite two drivers named Willie Zurich and Quintin Saayman. They are two of the greatest Sprint Car drivers in South Africa… I wish to be as good as them one day!
Follow your dreams make it happen, don’t just wait cause you might just wait too long!
Make your dreams
Motorsport in our country is not only for men, us ladies can enjoy it too…