From rock n roll to full throttle - Norfolk woman joins motor sport

A sportscar and an image of Sallyanne Francis on stage.

Sallyanne Francis is a former rock star and is now entering Formula Woman racing. - Credit: Formula Woman and Sallyanne Francis

A Norfolk woman is gearing up for a change of career as she joins the world of motor sport.

Sallyanne Francis, former frontwoman of alternative band Hoi Polloi, is taking a step back from centre stage and joining the starting grid as she embarks on a new adventure in Formula Woman racing.

Sallyanne Francis, a singer on stage with a tambourine.

Sallyanne Francis performing with Hoi Polloi in 1990. - Credit: Sallyanne Francis

Mrs Francis, from Oby, said: "I've been driving since I was 10 on farmland, and I learned pretty quickly how to get myself out of trouble."

Mrs Francis said that she applied for Formula Woman racing in September after finding the sport on YouTube.

"I retired and had gone back to working two days a week," Mrs Francis, 61, said.


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"Then I thought 'why not'. 

"Let's have some fun."

Formula Woman, a racing series won by Attleborough's Natasha Firman in 2004, is being relaunched. Pi

Formula Woman, a racing series won by Attleborough's Natasha Firman in 2004, is being relaunched. Picture: Formula Woman - Credit: Archant

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Since applying, Mrs Francis has passed the written assessment.

"I have received a very shiny badge," she said.

Now she is waiting for her track assessment before she can progress to competition.

"I've been very competitive in my past. I've ridden horses.

"But that's different because horses are animals whereas a car is an engine.

"But I do like anything that's got a bit of speed.

A McLaren racing car.

A McLaren racing car. - Credit: Formula Woman

"We will see where this will take me."

Formula Woman are looking for more applicants in the area and their application is available online.

After the online tutorial and on-track assessments, which will commence in September, the winners will receive entry into the 2022 GT Cup Championship to compete against their male counterparts in a McLaren 570s GT4 race car.

Founded by entrepreneur, Graeme Glew, Formula Woman was initially unveiled in 2004 with the aim of encouraging novice female drivers to get involved in motorsport.

Formula Woman was discontinued in 2007, but now business consortium Totally Motorsport Group has announced the series is set to make a return in 2021.

Mrs Francis is eager to get on the track and thinks this a great opportunity for women to put the pedal to the metal, regardless of their age.

"What have you got lose?" Mrs Francis said.

"I think there are a lot of good women drivers out there, so why not? It doesn't matter how old you are."

Natasha Firman, from Attleborough, won the inaugural Formula Woman championship in 2004. Picture: Su

Natasha Firman, from Attleborough, won the inaugural Formula Woman championship in 2004. Picture: Submitted

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