Caroline Skele-Jenkin, 17, finds success in Top Fuel dragster aged just 15
Caroline Skele-Jenkin: ‘I have practised driving off-road since I was 13’
When you’re a young woman, getting thrown from your car is the least of your worries. But then when you’re the first of your race team to gain a full licence in a fundamentally male-dominated sport, it’s just about about the most impressive.
“When I was taught to drive at school by my mum and dad, I would be taking part in off-road stuff since I was 13,” says Caroline Skele-Jenkin, who is 16. “Then I decided to join my dad as his second driver for Top Fuel after my first driver had an accident.”
Born and bred in Warrington, Skele-Jenkin started racing in Top Fuel, a category in dragster classes. Currently, Top Fuel is the only general-purpose race category for super cars built from titanium and steel, unlike Pro Stock, which is set up to exploit dragway tracks, which is most common for dragsters.
Top Fuel is designed for high-powered engines and wider wheels, which means the dragster’s front tail is not too far away from the driver. “I tend to start like that, but as I drive a bit harder I don’t have to go as far.”
Skele-Jenkin is on a five-year provisional card for 2019 before her road to glory is completed with a full points card. But she will be forging ahead regardless, committed to competing in her sport – and performing for her country as a Great Britain female racer.
Though she was born in Australia, Skele-Jenkin is British and therefore eligible to represent Team GB at the 2019 World Championships, which will be held in Atlanta, Georgia. She trains in Peterborough, where she and her boyfriend, James Cameron, live with her family, and takes her practice on the road to a factory track in Kent.
“The GB boys get signed up straight away. They’re really tough,” says Skele-Jenkin. “I’ve been lucky in that my boss is Nigel Nicholson [her manager and co-driver] and I’ve had his support. For me, the biggest pressure has been to prove to myself that I could do it.”