Sunday, 6 August 2017

Sue Hughes

Sue with her Radical SR3

Sue Hughes, also known as Sue Hughes-Collins, is a longstanding figure in Australian motorsport. She has experience in most disciplines, but is most known for saloon racing.

She has raced on and off since 1988, when she started driving in hillclimbs. Motorsport is part of her family background; she uses her family name of Hughes as a tribute to her father. He was a speedway rider. In hillclimbing, she won her class in the New South Wales championship, and was runner-up in the Australian championship. Her car both times was a Formula Vee.

She was part of the all-female Mazda 121 Challenge in 1996, which brought her into the limelight. Her solid on-track performances gave her a fifth place. The championship was dominated by Tania Gulson and Paula Elstrek.

The next ride for Sue was a Suzuki Swift in the Australian Production GT Championship. Her first appearances were one-off drives, then a full-season in the series followed in 1999. This was a good year; she was third in Class E and won some rookie awards. Hughes Motorsport, Sue’s family team, made its first appearance this year.

She returned to the GTP series in 2000, and switched between a Mazda MX-5, Ford Falcon and BMW 323i. She was not as competitive in these cars as she had been in the Swift; the Falcon was probably the best drive for her. Competing in Class D, she was ninth. Her combined efforts in the BMW and the Mazda in Class B gave her a fourteenth place.

In 2001, she stuck with the BMW. This was her favourite of her three 2000 cars. She was ninth in Class B. Her season ended with the two-hour GTP Showroom Showdown, in which she shared the BMW with David Lawson. They were 24th, with a class fifth.

A break from active competition followed. Sue worked as a driver trainer for BMW, including teaching celebrities to race for a BMW Mini Celebrity Challenge. She also drove the medical car at Mount Panorama.

Her return to the circuits came In 2008, when she raced a BMW M3 in some national production races, but with no spectacular results.

In 2010, she tried single-seaters, racing a 1600cc Formula Ford, but in 2011, she settled on a Radical sportscar as her car of choice. In her first year of Radical racing, she won one race and was fourth in Class Two of the Australian Sports Racer Series. She was also thirteenth in the Radical Australia Cup and earned one podium finish.

Three more seasons in the Radical Cup followed. Sue was not quite as competition as in 2011, although she was active for most of the season each time. She was 22nd in 2012, then 17th in 2013 and 2014.

She continued to race Radicals in 2015 and 2016, increasingly with her son, Jon Collins. 2015 was spent mostly in the Australian Sports Racer Series, in which she was ninth. Her best finish was a runner-up spot at Phillip Island. At different times, she made guest appearances in the NSW Supersports Cup and the Radical Cup.

In 2016, she was 20th in the Australian Sports Racer series, in spite of a bad end to her short season which included two non-finishes. Two appearances in the Radical Cup at Mt Panorama gave her a fourteenth and eleventh place.

Sue was still racing the Hughes Motorsport Radical in 2017. She drove in some rounds of the Australian Prototype Championship. Her best finish was twelfth at Sydney. This continued in 2018, although she also added some rounds of the Australian Radical Cup to her schedule.

Sue continues to support her son Jon in his sporting endeavours, including Formula 3.

(Image copyright Hughes Motorsport)

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