Posted: 20 September 2012 | Interview by: RaceMasteR J & Zed Richards
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Raceweb sat down with National Superbike racer, Janine Mitchell aka Little Miss #79 recently and talked about everything from the basics to the nitty gritty of racing. She's been kicking up a storm around the country thrashing the pants off most of the guys. Check out the video below for some of the q&a's as well as her lap time around Kenilworth Karting. Included in the video is her attempt at getting a car sideways too! It's a must see!

RW: Name?
JM: Janine Mitchell

RW: Claim to fame?
JM: National Wesbank Super Series Rider

RW: Hobbies?
JM: I love boxing! I go boxing training and I’m obsessed with the boxing championship and everything… as well as anything extreme… motor x, drifting, drags, absolutely anything.

RW: What do you drive as an everyday car?
JM: I have a van and it’s awesome! It’s a VW transporter and it’s my race van but I use it every day and I love it. I’m slowly but surely adding a few things to it but racing more important right now.

RW: So that’s what you use when you come down to Cape Town?

JM: Yes the nice thing about being part of a team is that they brought it down for me, and I got to fly down. It’s good for publicity because it’s fully branded also.

RW: Who do you race for?
JM: I race for Smart For Woman Insurance (Title Sponsor) and Kawasaki and I am part of the M Tech race team.

RW: How long have you been doing this?
JM: I’ve been racing for 9 years so next year would be my 10th! Wow!

RW: How did you get into racing?
JM: I actually started rollerblading before I started racing funny enough. I went to Bugaloos every single afternoon after school and I went to go watch racing one day and I came home and thought that’s exactly what I want to do. That was my calling.

RW: What’s the challenges being a female in a male dominated sport?
JM: The challenge is definitely getting the guys used to having a female on the track and to show them that we are as good as them. When I first started racing I joined the Derby Development Club and the first year they taught us how to ride, how to use a bike… I came from a background where my dad wasn’t into racing at all. (My dad, John Mitchell played rugby for Western Province – Proudly Stormers!) The next year I was competing for the championship and I was the first woman to finish third overall while winning a few races during the year.

RW: Advice to other lady racers out there?

JM: The best advice I would give to young girls is to stay focused on what you want to achieve. Ask questions, there’s people who’s willing to help you, don’t get scared about the fact that there’s men around, don’t get intimidated. Don’t let it get to you. Just remember that we are as good as them. If I can do it, you can do it, and there’s nothing different between the two of us. Get the right advice. Stay motivated!

RW: We know you’re a petrol head…
JM: Yeah I actually did motor mechanics in metric…

RW: If you could build your own car with an unlimited budget, what would it be?
JM: Entry level: A Golf 4 GTi, I always loved the car and the shape so I’d love to modify that one… An M3! Oh my gosh… the old one is fun and you can modify it very nicely but the new one! I saw it and I thought that’s my new dream car! It’s beautiful! Also, a Mustang! I love my muscle cars! I’ve got a very weird outlook on cars, every car that I like, I LOVE! I’ve always wanted a classic Ford Cortina.

RW: Tell is a bit about your scars! How many?
JM: I’ve lost count of how many I’ve got, between rollerblading and every other extreme thing I’ve done in my life… I’ve broken 12 bones in total, plates and screws I think I’ve got about 16 now. I’ve fractured my neck and many bones but when I broke my collar bone, that was the worst, they literally had to give me morphine on the track. It was the first time I’ve had that and it was at the 8 hour endurance at Killarney. My friend made a mistake in front of me and I had nowhere to go but straight into the back of him and I went flying over the handle bars, landed on my shoulder and I was in excruciating pain. I didn’t go for an operation; we let it heal naturally because it didn’t leave a big scar, even though it took a bit longer. I like my collar bone and I’m still a lady who doesn’t like to have scars.

RW: The fear of falling… is it always the same or are you always scared to fall?

JM: You can never get used to it. You might have the same kind of fall but the way you fall is different. My first ever fall I came back into the pit and I was so happy because I fell whoohoo. It definitely put me off as I was a bit scared but when you come back, you forget about it because that’s part of racing and extreme sport, you understand that injuring yourself, falling, crashing is all part of learning. So if you’re strong enough to come back after that crash then it’s a good thing because it shows you’re a true racer. Sometimes you do have situations where you done come back as strong and they need sports psychology to get over it, but if it’s your dream and passion, you’ll do anything to come back and compete.

RW: Pain factors?
JM: Falling on the smaller bikes actually hurt. I’d say that when you have a little crash the pain factors not that bad. Like when you crash at 200km/h, you just go rolling and tumbling and you just get up and it’s like ok. But when you’ve actually hurt yourself badly and you are laying there you know straight away things are broken. In hospitals they ask you what’s the pain factor between 1 and 10. We get asked that ALL the time, I promise you. When you know the pain is above a 7, then you know you’ve done proper damage.

RW: Have you ever had training on how to fall?
JM: No ways! You’ve been told, “Tuck in” but it also comes naturally. Sometimes it happens so quickly, when I crashed and broke my ankle, I was rolling and tumbling and suddenly I stopped, I realized Oh I crashed. It becomes second nature, I’ve been racing for 9 years and I even got an award for the most crashes during one year.

RW: What’s the favorite part of racing for you?
JM: The thing that I enjoy the most is actually when I’m going around a corner and I’ve got my bike so leaned over I’m scraping my knee on the tar and I come out and I got the power and its all you who’s making this happen… as well as when I don’t crash, and when I save a crash.

RW: Favorite circuit in SA?
JM: Zwartkops recently because I managed to do very well there in the one race but Phakisa is still my ultimate track. It’s the way you flow into the lines and it’s actually built for Moto GP.

RW: What do you think of Killarney?
JM: Killarney and I aren’t the best of friends yet, I think I haven’t done enough laps yet. I enjoy the track; it does push you a bit especially in turn 1 and turn 5. They do test your ability to handle speed but other than that we don’t gel. More laps… that’s all, I haven’t spent enough time here.

RW: What’s the best bike you’ve ridden?
JM: My current Kawasaki that I’m racing now.

RW: What makes a good track bike?

JM: Definitely suspension and tyres, those are your two main things when racing track bikes.

RW: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
JM: Two things, one is to be Miss South Africa and the other is to be racing overseas. Very opposite goals I know! I also want to be the fastest lady in South Africa.

RW: Miss South Africa! Wow, tell us more about that?
JM: One of the main reasons why I am into Miss SA is because I want to promote the fact that a female can be elegant and classy but still be in a male dominated world. To show women out there you can do whatever you want. To give girls confidence and to be a role model especially being in a sport, it’s hard being focused for 9 years. I’ve had my ups and downs, I’ve had rough roads where I had to sit there and wonder is this really what I want to do. Luckily I persevered and had people motivating me to stay focused on that and that’s what I want to be for them.

RW: Who’s your hero?
JM: Travis Pastrana! I love freestyle motocross! That is my passion; I would love to be able to do that. My mother and father would definitely not let me do it though. For my type of racing, I’ve always looked up to Casey Stoner even though Rossi is the champion and everyone else looks up to him but for me it’s Stoner. I watched him at Phakisa the one year when he was racing 125’s. He crashed out and he came back and finished 7th. It was amazing to see him do that. So I’ve been a supporter since then.

RW: If you had to move on from racing superbikes, what would you get into?
JM: I don’t want to end my racing career on superbike racing that’s for sure! I would like to go to Supermotard, that would be the next step if I stop, otherwise definitely drifting, definitely cars! I would also love to be in a jet car one day, that thing is amazing!

RW: Well we don’t have a jet car for you but we have managed to get something else for you to play with today, we have a V8 drift weapon for you to try slide… but before we get there, let’s see how you fair around our little go kart track…
JM: Oh my word! I’m getting so nervous but I’ll try! Awesome! Thank You!

Janine whipped out her specially sponsored helmet...

A few tips are exchanged before the practice session...

After a few practice laps she managed to get in her flying lap of... 21.580!

The only time I can enjoy being on track together with Janine Mitchell is when she has 2 extra wheels... 3 if you include the steering wheel!

We headed off to Killarney Race Track for her sideways session with Dylan Cothill from Kaihatsu Factory and his V8 powered Nissan S13 drift car.

Dylan showed her around the car that she will be playing with...

The nerves are building up...

Getting Janine used to her new "office" for the afternoon...

Janine doing well for a first timer...

After a few practice runs she started to get the hang of it...

Eventually putting on more lock and getting more angle from the slide...

Well done Janine Mitchell! You got it sideways!

All in all a fun filled day for us at Raceweb and I hope Janine had even more fun! It was a pleasure having you and hope to see you kick ass in the nationals soon!

Raceweb would like to thank: Janine Mitchell, Sandi from Exige Promotions, Dylan Cothill of Kaihatsu Factory, Kenilworth Karting, and Killarney Race Track.

RaceMasteR J


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