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What's there to stop me from racing? About Terri Sander

Updated on April 25, 2015

It's half past midnight, and what she last wrote on her Facebook wall lingers in my head. She had her treatment for her leg and back pain, and the noise from the MRI machine didn't bother her at all! “The MRI was a great place to mentally practice my racing...” she wrote.

Mama's Toy in action!
Mama's Toy in action! | Source

Born in 1956 in Ipswich, Queensland, Australia, Terri Sander would introduce herself as a wife, mother, and grandmother to two beautiful grandchildren, aged two and seven. But there's more! Known by her nickname “Mama”, Terri is passionate about Drag Racing! She, her racing car - a left-hand drive V8 Rover named Mama's Toy, which was built by her husband Warren and it’s on-track debut was in 1998 - and her team have a long history written in mph and seconds. Her best time is 11.14 seconds with 122.73 mph on the clock – really fast, really quick.

Terri began her racing career in 1993, answering to her unexplained urge that she needs to get behind the wheel. After her very first pass, she knew this was going to be her path as a racer. Two thousand and eight hundred passes down a track, numerous competitions including the Australian Nationals and ANDRA Pro Series, and 80 something trophies later, she believes, “I've had a great racing career and never looked back. But there is more to come!”

Clearly, Terri competes in a male-dominated arena. On top of that, most of Terri's contenders are much younger than she is. In her email to me she wrote, “...I love every minute of it... I guess I'm rather competitive because I love to win. I’m sure newcomers to the sport must be surprised at seeing a grandma behind the wheel of a V8 race car.” If I were to compete in the same event with her, I would! And then some...with full respect and admiration.

Pink Car Nation event in support of breast cancer awareness week
Pink Car Nation event in support of breast cancer awareness week | Source

Terri is bursting with energy, which I doubt comes from drinking Red Bull! She is a go-getter, initiative-taker, always grateful, and most definitely, a fighter. Eight years ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. But that didn't stop her from reaching her goal, from pursuing her passion. Despite the chemotherapy and radium treatment, she still raced! She is now in full remission and actively supporting women and their family members affected by this illness. Every year since three years ago, she organises a special event, the “Mini-Field of Women” of Pink Car Nation held at Willowbank Raceway in Ipswich, Queensland, to support breast cancer awareness week. Combined with the regular racing event for the day, Terri and her friends and supporters raised well over $1,300 for the Breast Cancer Network Australia last year.

“Have a goal in may be as simple as taking time out with your family, nurturing the gardens or learning something new.” That's one of the messages she has for all of us, as she practices what she says and knows what the outcomes are. About 2 years ago, she taught herself how to use the computer, surf the net, and design her own website, Mama's Toy Racing, and how to play the electronic keyboard. She is now in the process of creating monthly calendars for her racing friends and is a proud member of the Australian Women’s Motorsport Network (AWMN), a network for women in motorsport and the automotive industry, and Groovy Grandmas network. All of these on top of spending her time with her precious family. (As a retiree, she is busier as ever.)

“I truly believe that we should always try to look at the brighter side of life and not dwell on things we cannot change...Smile and be happy... life is too short not to enjoy.”

With those words of hers in mind, there is always something to look forward to when I wake-up in the morning. Life is too precious to let any stumbling block let us down and stop us from reaching our goals. Terri is a living proof, an inspiration.


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