Isle of Man TT: Meet the thrill seeking women who dare
- 4 June 2014
- From the section Isle Of Man / Ellan Vannin
As Hayley Jayne Capewell zips up her purple and black leathers, she talks about how people react when they hear of her life-long dream to race at the Isle of Man TT.
"People think I'm crazy but when I was a child I watched my father compete and I became hooked.
"I used to cheer him on and all the time I was thinking, 'one day that's going to be me'."
Speaking in her campervan behind the TT Grandstand in Douglas, the 19-year-old, who is one of the youngest ever female competitors to take on the 37.75-mile circuit said she was "nervous, excited and scared" about the prospect of her TT debut.
This year, the Staffordshire competitor, will take part for the first time in the sidecar race with her driver Phil Biggadyke.
"If you don't know about the sport, nobody understands it, I'm a healthcare assistant and all of my clients think I'm crazy."
"I trust my driver 100%. I know we will be alright."
At the annual TT races in the Isle of Man, competitors reach speeds of about 200 mph on open road racing.
The festival, which is thought to be one of the most dangerous in the world, has claimed the lives of more than 200 riders.
But the statistics do not deter fans and racing teams, some of whom return year after year.
Maria Costello MBE, is one of those and she is listed as the only female solo competitor this year.
"I have a love-hate relationship with this place as I've broken some bones here, but it's one of the best challenges ever.
"I've broken about 24 bones over the years. Road racing gives you the best feeling in the world and the worst nerves, I love it."
The 40-year-old from Northampton held the Guinness World Record until 2009 for being the fastest woman to lap the Isle of Man TT course at an average speed of 114.73 mph.
In 1962 Beryl Swain became the first woman solo rider to ride the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy course in an official event. The following year, the sport's governing body, the FIM, revoked her international licence.
A reporter discussing her involvement in the sport in the 1960s commented: "Women, the weaker sex, are muscling in on man's domain, practically no sport is sacred."
Times have moved on and women are now welcome, but just a handful are brave enough to try.
TT 2014 will be Debbie Barron's third year as a sidecar driver, she knows that being singled out as a woman is something of the past.
"People look to see who the driver is. When the mechanics point to me, people are amazed and shocked. Once people know that it's a female I get a tremendous wave of support."
Smiling, she explains: "When I am racing around the circuit I can see people waving programmes, beer cans and children wave their teddy bears."