Katherine Shaw is looking forward to getting back into Top Alcohol competition for the first time in three years at this weekend's Fuchs Winternationals at Willowbank Raceway.
The Brisbane racer takes a methodical and determined approach to her racing and is a keen observer over all technical elements in the S&S Trailers team.
Shaw trained under the renowned Frank Hawley Drag Racing School in the USA and she says that has been vital in helping her stay mentally prepared to race, despite not having taking part in an event for some time in her Top Alcohol dragster.
"Given the routine of driving the car has only changed slightly it's basically memory recall," she said. "Given in drag racing all competitors have very limited actual seat time a lot of practice is done sitting in the car and running through the driving process via memory recall and visualisation techniques. It's something that Frank Hawley taught when I attended his school.
"Our mind does not know that difference between visualisation practise and actual track time. The result of the practice is the more I can sit in the car and become comfortable the more also your body physically becomes comfortable which in turn controls heart rate and tension levels."
Shaw credits her opportunities in Top Alcohol to tutelage from Peter Kapiris' crew chief Mark Brew, who acts as a consultant and mentor for the team.
"I love swinging spanners," she said. "Under the guidance and teaching of Mark Brew from Pro-force Motorsports I have learned more about the tuning role and continue to learn. But I don't' think we will ever know everything about tuning a race car and reading the track.
"I am a hands on driver and a crew person still by nature as well. I work on my own car and don't expect my crew to do anything I haven't learned to do."
The team has made some transmissions modifications as well as some changes to how they will be able to tune the car ahead of the Fuchs Winternationals.
Shaw said they were staying realistic but also confident.
"We are the underdogs going into the Fuchs Winternationals with limited track time testing and a fairly new team," she said. "Having said that, we pride ourselves on organisation, structure, professional image and good systems we have put in place to the best of our ability.
"We are as prepared as we can be going into the event with a very positive attitude and look forward to the challenge ahead. If drag racing was easy everyone would be doing it."
Shaw will be racing against a strong Top Alcohol field including national champion Gary Phillips, former national champions Wayne Newby and Steve Reed, national record holder Steven Ham, dark horse Debbie O'Rourke and recent rookie winner Darren Fry.