Childers dynamo Flame Howard scorches down the dragstrip and makes a striking impression with her bright personality wherever she goes.
Sitting on a Harley Davidson and tearing along at 200kmh is just part of the ride which life has given the aptly named Flame.
Flame Howard, who is instantly recognisable wherever she goes due to her vibrant hair colour, has more facets and sparkle to her personality than a newly cut diamond.
Bike devotee, drag racer, rock and roll singer/musician, Andalusian horse trainer, guard dog trainer, partner and mother are some of the pathways that have shaped Flame’s passion for life and her highly infectious can-do attitude.
Currently number one on the competition ladder following five rounds in the Central Queensland Drag Racing Championships, Flame Howard recently achieved a personal best by producing a run of 11.2 seconds, clocking an eye-popping 122mph (196.34kph).
“People ask me if I’m scared going that fast. I say, only for 11 seconds,” she said.
Being a woman and being older have never been barriers for Flame.
“I only started drag racing six years ago at age 50,” she said.
“Someone said to me ‘Don’t know about you doing that old girl – you could make a fool of yourself'.
“That sort of negativity inspires me. Anyone and everyone, I don’t care who you are, is capable of achieving anything. You just have to have a go.
“I have learned a lot about myself through this sport. I believe my reflexes for racing are good and I have a good ability to focus which is important in drag racing.”
Flame says she likes to encourage young people in particular to head to speedways if they want to hoon.
“It’s a safe and controlled environment,” she said.
“They can do burnouts and speed to their heart’s content without risking their lives, upsetting the community, or drawing the attention of police.
“I was raised on a property near Broken Hill and living remotely you had to learn to do everything for yourself.
“I started riding bikes at seven years of age and when it broke you had to know how to fix it. Entertainment was not an option, so we had to entertain ourselves.
“Everyone in the family was musical and we had some terrific jam sessions as a family.”
Music is still a big part of her life although COVID-19 has put a wrecking ball through the live music industry.
Her group, Flame Classic Rock, is still playing the odd function but she really misses the regular gigs performed pre-virus.
“I started off playing country music and have performed with the likes of Slim Dusty. Getting into rock ’n roll I had some great times with bands like the Angels and Ted Mulry. I performed quite a bit with the late Phil Emmanuel.”
Training Andalusian or Pure Spanish Horses is something Blaze has occasionally engaged with and is currently working with a couple of horses.
“Years ago I trained them for use in movies and the circus.”
With a couple of rounds remaining in the CQ Drag Racing Championships Flame is confident her racing bike, a street registered Harley Davidson Street Bob, will maintain its near-perfect mechanical condition.
“It’s a sweet machine running on quality S&S parts and over the past six years only the clutch has required replacing.”
The bike is a 385kg beast. How does a slightly built woman like Flame handle something of that weight?
“The trick is not to drop the bloody thing,” she confided.
“I have a couple more competition rounds at Benaraby Dragway and also an October meeting at Willowbank in Brisbane so, although I currently head the leader board, there’s still work to be done.”
If a positive attitude is any measure of success then Flame Howard is already a winner.