Abi Harris made her racing comeback at Cadwell and found herself in an unusual predicament. The lengthy rain delays meant that the Formula Ford 2000 grid was held in the assembly area for quite some time. There’s nothing unusual about drivers needing to unstrap themselves for a bathroom break in this situation, but Harris had to leave her car in order to feed her six-month-old daughter Maggie, who was with her mum next to the circuit.
Harris’s partner and Maggie’s father is Lee Bankhurst. The couple, who race Royale RP30s against one another, must be the only racing parents on the HSCC grid together.
“I’ve not come across it, have you?” says Harris, while Bankhurst agrees.
“We’re determined to make it work until it’s too expensive.
“I deal with Maggie and he deals with both cars.”
Bankhurst agrees. “It can be a long weekend.”
Both began their motorsport careers before the arrival of Maggie, with Harris’s in particular affected by lockdowns and then the arrival of the baby. Having experienced racing both before and after becoming parents, there is a difference in how they approach things.
“It is different for me,” says Harris, “because I go out there and all I think about is ‘what’s Maggie doing?’, and I can’t possibly crash and hurt myself because I still need to feed my child!”
Bankhurst has also noticed a change.
“For me, I think the first couple of laps of the first session you have it in your head, then you’re like, shake your head, you need to get on with it, try and put it to the back of your mind. It definitely changes you, though.”
Despite the added pressure, both still enjoy racing their Royales.
“We wanted to keep our hobbies for as long as we can,” says Harris.
“I think it’s important to us to show Maggie that anything is possible and that she can do anything.”
It’s not just the world of motorsport that she gets to experience either.
“I ride horses and she’s already got a pony at six months old. She’s been familiarising herself with it so when she’s older, she’ll be so comfortable round it. It’s the same with cars. When she gets to the age when she can go karting, we’ll definitely encourage her.
“I definitely want to show her that you can be a girl and race, and do it as a family and support each other.”
Both admit that the thought of watching their daughter karting is somewhat scary, riding is in many ways just as risky.
“I like having a brake pedal,” is non-rider Bankhurst’s comment.
“I can’t fall off my car,” adds Harris. “And I can put it in the garage for another day. You can’t do that with a horse.”
Bankhurst is racing again at Donington this weekend. Harris will be there to assist and Maggie will be watching.
(Images copyright Abi Harris)