Ladies Driving Challenge, 2012

Hiya, kids! Here’s our awesome contact from across the pond, Stevie Carroll, with her report that details women driving big trucks for charity! Yes, I know. Big trucks. VROOM VROOM. Women driving them. Mmm hmmm. And if you’re a writer, going to events like this and participating in things like this can lend realism to your narratives and characters. You never know what you’ll learn. 😀

Read on…

Ladies Driving Challenge 2012
By Stevie Carroll

NOTE: all photos are by and courtesy of Stevie Carroll.

Back in March, a friend emailed me to ask if I wanted to drive a fire engine and other vehicles in aid of the Firefighters’ Charity. Obviously I said yes straight away.

And so, one blustery Sunday in late May, we assembled on a former airbase in Cambridgeshire, armed with sponsor forms, cameras and sensible shoes. In a little over three and a half hours we had the opportunity to try out everything from quad bikes and buggies to articulated lorries and the promised fire engines. My little gang of three started with the artics, since most women seemed to want to queue for the fire engines, and we got two circuits each before being made to hand over to the next person in line.

Obviously we weren’t allowed to take them out by ourselves.

Planning to meander gently up to the fire engines, we next had a go at the buggy slalom. This time our co-driver claimed to be The Stig‘s older, fatter cousin: a claim one of our number disputed as she knows various of The Stig’s previous incarnations and they look nothing like that chap. The buggy was one of those usually built and driven as school projects, but it seemed plenty big enough for all shapes and sizes of women as well.

Then it was time for the fire engines! I’d been slightly disappointed by the artics, since they all had automatic transmissions, but the queues had died down, and I got to drive the one with a manual transmission. My run around the circuit in that was immediately followed by the chance to drive a fire service Prime Mover, which had optional manual transmission by means of a steering wheel control. For someone who likes both trucks and Formula 1 cars, this was obviously heaven. Even if my co-driver did manage to distract me with questions so I completely messed up the gear shifts at the end of my first circuit.

So I only got one photo at that end of the track.

After the fire engines the gang split up. I played with a skip lorry while my friends went in search of the really big quad bikes and the skid-pan car. This was actually one of my highlights of the day. What’s not to love about operating levers to load the skip and then driving off on a quick inspection of the various reversing bays (I’m good at reversing small lorries, possibly after a few student adventures when I chauffeured friends to parties in some rather large vans). After my turn, I got to unload the skip ready for the next driver, before heading off in search of one final vehicle experience.

I could do this all day if they’d let me.

I have friends of friends who own mini-diggers, but I never seem to be around at the right time to borrow one. So I played with one at the Driving Challenge. More levers, and I was very glad of the instructor standing alongside to remind me which pair worked what. This time our challenge was to lift a tyre off the top of another tyre, turn the cab through 180 degrees, then carry the tyre over to where we needed to set it down again. I managed reasonably well, and then my friends reappeared, and had a go too.

Another of the gang completes the challenge.

All in all a grand day out, and I suspect I’ll be signing up again for next year, and hoping we get an ambulance to play with as well. Or possibly a crane.

And finally, one vehicle we weren’t allowed to drive: Vivien .

Thanks, Stevie, for the photos and descriptions of this great event. Readers, if you attend things like this and think Women and Words readership would be interested in an account of that, just drop me a line over at the contact form on my website, which is located HERE.

Stevie Carroll bio:
Born in Sheffield, England’s Steel City, and raised in a village on the boundary of the White and Dark Peaks, Stevie Carroll was nourished by a diet of drama and science fiction from the BBC and ITV, and a diverse range of books, most notably Diane Wynne-Jones and The Women’s Press, from the only library in the valley. After this came a university education in Scotland, while writing mostly non-fiction for underground bisexual publications under various aliases, before creativity was stifled by a decade of day-jobs.

Now based in Hampshire, Stevie has rediscovered the joys of writing fiction, managing to combine thoughts of science fiction, fantasy and mysteries with a day-job writing for the pharmaceuticals industry and far too many voluntary posts working with young people, with animals and in local politics. Stevie’s short story, ‘The Monitors’, in Noble Romance’s Echoes of Possibilities, was longlisted by the 2010 Tiptree Awards jury. Other short stories have appeared in the anthologies British Flash and Tea and Crumpet, while Stevie’s first solo collection A Series of Ordinary Adventures was published by Candlemark and Gleam in May 2012.

You can find Stevie at LiveJournal, for writing updates. And yes, she really needs to get a website.

One comment

  1. Thanks, Andi.

    All these events are awesome research opportunities, although I’m still envious of the police courses that are available to writers in the US.


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