Toowoomba-based teen races towards V8 Supercars dream
NARIKO McDonnell is on track to reach the pinnacle of Australian motor sport.
There is no reason why she cannot take on the likes of V8 Supercar champions Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup.
Like those famous former karters, the 16-year-old go-kart racer has drive, talent, a need for speed and a winning attitude.
"Dad used to race motorbike and race cars," Nariko says of her inspiration to get behind the wheel when she was just seven.
"I've always wanted to be like my dad - my dad is my hero.
"He decided one day to take me out for a test drive in a club kart and it went from there.
"I've loved every second of it."
The Brisbane-based racer, who calls the Toowoomba go-kart track "her home", is one of the sport's brightest stars.
She scored third place at the New Zealand nationals and took out the Toowoomba junior clubman class championship last year.
Nariko is looking forward to making leap from driving on go-kart tracks to speeding around some of Australia's toughest V8 circuits including this weekend's Gold Coast 600.
"Craig Lowndes is someone I aspire to follow and be like because he has had, and continues to have an incredibly successful and long career doing what he loves," the Year 12 student said.
"Not only this, he has stayed humble and still has a lot of respect for other people and that's something to aspire to."
Following in Lowndes's tyre tracks requires dedication and planning, two things Nariko has in spades.
"I aim to have done successfully on the Australian Nationals Tour in 2016 and the Queensland State titles tour in 2016," she said of her next goal.
"And I hope to have obtained sponsorship by the end of 2016 so I can progress from karting into a bigger class."
In the meantime, Nariko had some sage words of advice for other girls and young women wanting to enter what is a male-dominated sport.
"Just get out there and give it a good hard crack, it doesn't matter if you win or lose just as long as you gave it your all and had a lot of fun doing it then who cares what other people say," she said.
"Do it because it makes you happy, not because it makes someone else happy."