IT ALL BEGAN WITH A 1964 MINI COOPER.
A love for Minis is something that is often passed down through families.
Whether it’s an heirloom, an inherited knack for restoring old cars, or simply an appreciation for MINI’s iconic design, there are many fans who have known nothing but MINI their entire lives.
Linda Devlin is one of those fans.
Her mum competed in a couple of sprint races while she was pregnant with Linda in her dad’s Mini, which he built and raced. When she was just two weeks old, Linda was trackside watching her dad compete at Bathurst.
So, it makes sense that Linda, who lives on the outskirts of Melbourne, has grown up to claim her place as one of Australia’s fastest women on wheels.
The 29-year-old began racing when she was nine years old, go-karting competitively with her brother.
After a while, go-karting was taking up much of their weekends, so Linda’s dad gave up his own motorsports career to dedicate more time to his kids’ own racing pursuits.
At the age of 17, while taking a break from go-karting to concentrate on Year 12, a family friend, Henry Draper, offered Linda the opportunity to graduate from a go-kart to a 1964 Mini Cooper S.
Linda took him up on the offer, and raced at a special historical meet at Winton raceway, in Victoria.
From then on, she was hooked on Minis.
“I love the Minis because they’re quick around corners, have excellent power to weight ratio and are good in the wet weather as they are a front wheel drive,” she says.
“I love the adrenaline rush of driving fast, but I also love the challenges racing brings - you’ve got so many cars you race against with different characteristics.
“I love the speed, I love the friends you make along the way and I love having fun with the family on our road trips to each race track.”
For decades, Linda has been racing Henry’s 1964 Mini Cooper S, as well as his 2008 MINI Cooper S 3-Door Hatch.
She’s driven them to claim titles like the Fastest Female Driver of Historic Touring Cars in 2010, and the Youngest Driver Award at Historic Winton in 2011.
Linda’s also won outright multiple times at revered competitions including the East Coast Mini Challenge and MRA Mini’s Championships.
She also made history in 2013 when she was the first female to win a historic Group N race, and she and her dad were the first father-daughter team to compete in the Winton 300 Endurance race.
“I don’t like to play the gender card,” Linda says.
“But, I am a female in a male-dominated sport, and it’s nice to put your markdown and earn your wins and respect of all drivers.
“I always say that once your helmet goes on, everyone’s equal.”
While Linda may treat her opponents as equals, she certainly doesn’t allow them any mercies on the track.
Earlier this year, racing in the rain and wet weather in Queensland, she won the first race of the East Coast Mini Challenge by a 33-second margin, placing astoundingly far ahead of the others in the field, and having never raced there before.
She says that race, along with racing at Bathurst, have been career highlights for her.
“At Bathurst, it’s all about sliding around the fast blind corners and enjoying the speed on the long straights,” she says.
“It’s such a big icon of motor racing, it’s so nice to be able to say I’ve done that.”
Linda’s racing is still very much a family affair, with her dad acting as a chief motivational coach, mechanic and team manager while her mum supports and assists at the events.
“I am very lucky because I have a dad who is still passionate about MINI and succeeding in racing, ” Linda says
“It’s a great family bonding thing for us, with mum, dad and I spending weekends away racing.
“We are a strong team.”