24-year-old V8 ute racer, model and law student, Hayley “Swanny” Swanson is turning heads in racing circles as she tears around in her WTW sponsored V8 Ute.
Hayley is just finishing her first season of the Auto One V8 Ute Racing Championship – protected by Armor All. She has been muscling the big utes around some of Australia’s meanest tracks, including Bathurst’s daunting mountain and the Gold Coast’s concrete canyon.
Hayley is racing for the six-car Williams Race Tech (WRT) outfit, an Alburybased squad that builds and runs Holden utes that are fast enough to run at the pointy end of the field.
WTW partnered with the team this season, with all its cars running WTW sponsorship. Fans have also benefitted from the connection with free copies of WTW handed out at each round from the WRT garage.
Hayley’s drive was under threat when a major sponsor pulled out mid-season, but WRT chief Wayne Williams stepped in to make sure the talented young racer was able to complete the season.
“We moved to make her a proper contracted driver for this year and next,” Wayne said.“It gives her some certainty and also means that other teams can’t just come and pinch her.”
Hayley’s #43 Holden VE Ute is sponsored by naming rights sponsor Ezeatm, Bluesight Building, Wanda Paints, Engas Hydrocarbon Refrigerants, and WTW. She has drawn plenty of attention in the V8 Utes class this season, with fans inspired by her accomplishments.
“I get a lot of women coming up to me and saying that they really appreciate what I’m doing. Many of them say they always wondered whether they could have a go at it and are inspired to get into racing after seeing a woman tearing it up on the track with the boys.”
“I get a lot of women coming up to me and saying that they really appreciate what I’m doing”
Hayley, who is currently studying law at Swinburne University in Melbourne, caught the racing bug five years ago.
“My dad had a WRX road car that he took to Winton for a track day and he let me have a drive,” she said.“I absolutely loved it and just wanted to start racing.”
She was soon competing in club sprints in a special race-prepared Subaru WRX and then graduated to the exciting Aussie Racing Cars last year before making the huge step up to the V8 Utes series this season.
Wayne said Hayley has improved a lot in a short period of time.“She has driven fantastically this season. When she first came into it she was five seconds off the last car, now she is right in the pack mixing it with the others.”
Wayne joked that Hayley’s ever-increasing competitiveness also means more work for the team.“She gets a lot more panel damage now, but that’s ok because it means she is right in there fighting it out.”
Following the Gold Coast round, Hayley’s best results included two 20thplace finishes at Symmons Plains and a 21st at Darwin’s Hidden Valley, impressive given the field consists of up to 32 cars.
She said it was difficult to get used to driving the big utes after a stint in the tiny Aussie racers.
“They are so different and so heavy. When you lock a wheel they just keep on going. Getting used to the weight transition into corners took a while and I found I really just had to be patient with it to get the most out of it.”
Hayley has also pushed the boundaries a few times. “I have hit a couple of walls,” she said.
Although added being a woman does have its advantages, especially during race starts.“It is crazy out there sometimes. There is so much testosterone built up which can result in a lot of collisions and car damage coming into the first corner, so I guess I benefit from not having to worry about that.”
Hayley doesn’t have the typical ute racing physique, but said she is strong enough.“It’s quite a physical sport. It takes a lot out of you,” she said.
“I’ve been doing a lot of cardio and a lot of weight training. It’s really important that you are fit so that you don’t get tired and lose concentration during a race.”
WRT Success Stories
Hayley is not the only WRT success story, with other drivers impressing throughout the season. Ezeatm CEO, Todd Zani has shown plenty of promise in a car sponsored by his firm, while a Sage Automation sponsored Gary Baxter ute was in the top 10 after the Gold Coast event.
The Auto One wild card racer George Miedecke managed a brilliant second place in a race at the Gold Coast round, while Tony Longhurst managed a strong 11th place.
Young talent Sean Carter has also shown some good form in the Sucker Punch Energy Drinks car to come home 14th at the Gold Coast and 12th at Bathurst. WRT have just put on a sixth ute sponsored by ENGAS to be driven by Albury local, Matt Charda so watch out for him!
How would you like to be in the passenger seat while Swanny tears around the track in her V8 Ute. Well hold on tight, because WTW are offering a lucky reader just that! You will need live in, or get yourself to Victoria for the hotlap, which can be at Winton, Calder or Sandown. To enter, simply email [email protected] and tell us what Hayley’s nickname is.
Swanny on your worksite!
If you are in Victoria and want Hayley on your worksite then hit us up! Every issue, she leads the WTW promo team to building sites, handing out free WTW, Monster Energy drinks and often free gear from our partners. We also run site visits in NSW and QLD. Email [email protected] and tell us where you’re at!
WORDS / JAMES STAMFORD