2015 Christchurch’s hot rodding Granny brings her second Devil to Speedshow

Hot rodding grandmother, 67-year-old Maureen Fairbairn, was once the fastest woman in New Zealand and she still has the need for speed.

2015 - Hot rodding grandmother, 67-year-old Maureen Fairbairn, was once the fastest woman in New Zealand and she still has the need for speed.

Maureen will be a first time entrant at this year’s CRC Speedshow, as part of the Teng Tools Grand National Rod & Custom Show held in Auckland later this month on the 18th and 19th of July.

The 2015 show will attract tens of thousands of fans, and it’s a special celebration of all things ‘hot rod’.  The Teng Tools Grand National Rod & Custom Show offers a hand-picked selection of around 40 of New Zealand’s best hot rods and custom made motorbikes.

Her entry, a purple 1934 Ford coupe named Devil Woman 2, is deemed her ‘grocery’ car. Some women have a thing for shoes, Maureen has a thing for cars as she also owns a 2013 Camaro.  

“Last year when I went back to the USA, I fell in love with a 2014 Corvette Stingray convertible - oh dear, I couldn’t help myself,” she laughs. 

Maureen first got in to cars in 1969, when her husband Eddie Fairbairn had a hot rod which got written off after a bad crash. He then decided to build a special type of drag car just for racing, out of parts that were left over from the smash, naming it Devil Woman 1. It wasn’t long before Maureen began racing, and soon ruffled some feathers by being an overnight success behind the “screaming” [steering] wheel.

“I did really well, and from that day on it was full speed ahead and no one was going to stop me. I’d caught the bug, we went out to the drags and did really well… beat all the men and they were not happy.”

What was worse is that Maureen was beating them in a street car whereas the guys had full blown race cars, she says.

Maureen eventually became the fastest woman in the Southern Hemisphere in 1982 then held the record for being New Zealand’s fastest woman for a time.

One of the most exciting things Maureen remembers was driving Devil Woman 1 all the way to Auckland from Christchurch, winning the Street Hot Rod Nationals, and beaming the whole way back with pride and elation.

From this point on, she raced the car all over the country, braking records and having the time of her life.

“My fastest time in the car was 9.3 at 147 mph, which very fast back then. It’s time for another car now, a bit warmer and more modern,” she says.

Thus Devil Woman 2 was born, with its super charged 392 Hemi engine. Maureen says the car has been detuned so she can drive it on normal roads. In fact the hot rod has a stepped chassis, narrowed rear end, Winters quick change rear end, and Reid independent front end power steer. A mural painted on the boot was created by Bruce Grieg of the USA.

“I don’t race this one, Iuse it daily. I drive it everywhere, it’s my grocery car,” she smiles. 

Eddie and Maureen are owners of American Auto Parts in Christchurch. Even though she helps out at the family firm, she has a full time job looking after their autistic son, Sam.

Coming to CRC Speedshow was one way of showing people that you’re never too old to “do these car things,” says self-confessed proud grandmother.

“I’m still capable of keeping up with the young ones and have lots of other interests apart from hot rods,” she explains.

The couple have built a big Mexican-style house and sourced much of the furnishings from the USA. The same theme spills out to the garden with cacti everywhere. Maureen’s also quite a cat fancier, and her Burman cat was once placed sixth in a national cat show, which could be a sign of things to come at this national car show.

At nearly 70 years, Maureen still has loads of dreams to fulfil. One is to race a fast car at the famous Bonneville Salt Flats in the States. Or as she puts it, the Beach Boys sing in the song, Little Old Lady from Pasadena, “go Granny go!”

CRC Speedshow director, Ross Prevette, says he’s excited to have Maureen join the impressive line-up at the CRC Speedshow this year and says the trek all the way from Christchurch makes her attendance even more special.

“Maureen’s a shining example of New Zealand’s finest and we are delighted to have her join us this year. She’ll certainly add a whole new dimension to the show.”

The ninth annual CRC Speedshow takes place at Auckland’s ASB Showgrounds over the weekend of 18 and 19 July 2015. Tickets are available at the gate and from the show website www.speedshow.co.nz.

More information about the 2015 CRC Speedshow can be found on the website; www.speedshow.co.nz