A 21-year-old Kleinbosch babysitter is making a name for herself on the race track after leaving 18 drivers – all male – in the dust to win the SA Stock Rod competition in Pretoria last month.
When she’s not looking after little ones, making sure they eat their veggies and go to bed on time, Cayla Jones is in her helmet, neck brace and fire suite behind the wheel of her unmodified
yellow-and-blue Mk1 1600 Citi
Golf, reaching speeds of up to 100km/* . That’s far less than what you can legally do on the freeway, but try it in tight turns around a small oval track, pressing through a pack of steel, rubber and exhaust fumes.
The former Edgemead High School pupil fell in love with racing five years ago when she saw a friend burning rubber at Killarney.
“I was 16 years old, at the time, and I loved the adrenaline of racing. I didn’t have my driver’s licence at the time, and I had not even driven a car.”
In fact, Cayla’s only had her driver’s licence for about three years – she passed on her third try when she was 18.
Her father, David, took her for her first driving lesson two weeks before she started racing… in her mom’s car “so that I could get my clutch control right”.
After qualifying for the nationals in Klerksdrop in September, Cayla had serious jitters ahead of the big race in Pretoria last month.
But the nerves eased off once she had her foot on the accelerator. She was the only woman on the track that day, but that didn’t stop her charging home to victory.
After her win, Cayla, who is part of the Cape Hell Drivers (CHD), received many messages of congratulations from competitors and family and friends.
“Determination and patience helped me to win. Racing is very competitive and predominantly a male-dominated space,” she says.
Hell Riders chairman Steve Bekker says Cayla’s win is extraordinary.
“To reach 100 km/* on a 400m oval track shaped like an egg is quite a feat. Cayla is really great and it’s seldom that women compete on this platform.”
Cayla’s had her fair share of crashes – including rolling her car on the track earlier this year – but says she’s not put off by “a few blue marks”. Her mom, Alet, and dad are both very proud of her.
Cayla is looking forward to her next race – in Bredasdorp on Saturday December 15.