Stawell's Gemma Horrocks back in the driver's seat

STAWELL - An horrific crash resulting in two broken vertebrae isn't enough to keep Gemma Horrocks out of the driver's seat.

Nineteen year old Gemma has just returned to the speedway circuit after a lengthy period in the stands.

On April 25, 2010 at the Victorian Titles, Gemma's car was struck on the inside, causing her sedan to flip almost five times.

For most people an event like this would end their career in racing, but not Gemma.

As determined as ever Gemma again strapped herself in.

For the first time since her accident she returned to the sport she loves at last weekend's Blue Ribbon speedway in Horsham.

Since taking time off to recover and complete her VCE studies Gemma has turned 19 and is no longer eligible for the junior division.

Saturday was her first seniors event and prior to it beginning, she had three scheduled heats and if she was lucky enough, a final.

"I ended up racing in six events. When I got there the three litre boys asked me to compete with them, so I did," Gemma said.

Three litre races are a male dominated class, but if females are up to the challenge they are more than welcome to join in.

In her six starts Gemma achieved three firsts, two seconds and a third, an outstanding result considering she had changed classes and been away from the sport for several years.

"It was just really good to be back out there and to win, I was just really happy," she said.

Gemma explained the difference in class was a variable that makes things even tougher, saying that the senior racing was much faster but a lot cleaner.

"The men especially, they tend to really look out for you on the track unlike in the juniors."

Gemma has only just recently purchased her new car so it was the first professional run for it as well.

Her car is currently a modified production Ford XF.

Gemma admitted she felt different racing after her accident.

"You get out there and you're nervous about how the race is going to turn out, but then the green flag drops and your foot goes down. From there, adrenaline takes over," she said.

"It's funny once I had finished the race dad asked me if I was breathing, and I couldn't remember, it's that fast you just think about the racing."

While managing her injured back and driving, Gemma also started studying at Federation University for a nursing degree, but couldn't stand all the travelling.

She is currently employed at the Stawell Hospital and at Frewstal abattoirs.

Gemma isn't completely sure why she decided now was the perfect time to get back behind the wheel, but said it was just a split second decision.

Gemma would like to extend her thanks to Pat and Daffy O'Donnell, Nan and Pete and her family Kristine (mother), Pete (father) Jesse-Lee (sister) for all their support with her injury and career path, as well as her sponsors Frewstal, Designs and signs, Panel and Paint, Stawell Auto Pro and Stawell Tyrepower.

"Mum absolutely hates that I love it, but she supports me all the same," Gemma said.

Gemma's next hit out is on February 1, when she will return to Horsham Speedway.

"I love going to Horsham. The support there at Blue Ribbon Raceway and the crowd is just amazing." she said.

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