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Off The Beaten Track: Rally Driver Erin Kelly

Molly McLaughlin

Erin Kelly’s mother and grandmother were both trailblazing rally drivers, so it comes as no surprise that she has continued the family tradition.

“My Nana, June Kelly, was really into it,” Erin explains. “In one event she even rolled the family car! My uncles and my mum, Catriona Kelly, all grew up around rallying, and in 2002 my Mum got into co-driving. Not long after, my Uncle Al built a Renault Alpine A110 and asked me to navigate for him.”

Since then Erin has competed nationally and internationally as a co-driver, racing in the Australian Rally Championship, Asia Pacific Rally Championship, British Rally Championship and New Zealand Rally Championship. She also won the 2014 Queensland Rally Championship.

Erin’s roles as co-driver means she reads the pace notes that describe the upcoming course for the driver. This navigation is critical in rally driving due to the high speeds and unpredictable roads the drivers contend with. For Erin, flying through the air in a rolling car is all part of the job.


“There are always exciting moments in a rally car however some get the adrenalin pumping more than others,” she says. “I would have to say rolling at Rally Australia in 2015 and landing back on the wheels, pointing in the right direction, powering the car back up, picking a gear and continuing on without missing a beat was pretty exciting. We would have lost less than 10 seconds.”

Erin’s favourite part of the sport is the people she meets and the places it takes her. Along with her family, Erin has spent years rallying in Canberra and around Australia, but her favourite event is Rally Whangarei in New Zealand.

“The roads are unbelievable!” she says. “I swear they were purpose built for rallying.”

In the world of female rally drivers, Erin looks up to French former rally driver Michele Mouton, who began racing as a co-driver but soon moved into the driver’s seat. Mouton competed in the World Rally Championship and took four victories, finishing runner-up in the drivers’ world championship in 1982.

“Firstly because she drove one of the coolest cars around (an Audi Quattro),” explains Erin when asked why Mouton inspires her, “and secondly, she’s is one of the only women to give the boys a run for their money at the World Rally Championship level.”

Adrain Coppin Dorma ErinKelly_2

Erin is dreaming of a podium finish herself this year, and will have a chance to contest one of Australia’s premier rallying events as co-driver to Canberran driver Adrian Coppin in the upcoming National Capital Rally from 27-29 May. More details here.


Molly McLaughlin

Molly McLaughlin was less than thrilled to move to Canberra a couple of years ago to study Arts and Economics at ANU, but she can confirm the city has grown on her since then. Along with writing for HerCanberra, she spends her time reading, eating noodles and planning her next adventure. More about the Author