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
Claim to fame? JM: National Wesbank Super Series Rider
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,
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
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.
How long have you been doing this? JM: I’ve been racing for 9 years so next
year would be my 10th! Wow!
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.
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!
We know you’re a petrol head… JM: Yeah I actually did motor mechanics in
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
What’s the best bike you’ve ridden? JM: My current Kawasaki that I’m racing
RW: What makes a good track bike? JM: Definitely suspension and tyres, those
are your two main things when racing track bikes.
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.
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.
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!
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
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
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!