Drag-racing accountant has passion for cars

Ladysmith accountant Tammy Leslie has been running one of her two Camaros in drag races for the past 13 years.

Tammy Leslie recently won her first drag race in Sechelt with her 1980 four-speed Camaro

Tammy Leslie recently won her first drag race in Sechelt with her 1980 four-speed Camaro

For the past 13 years, Ladysmith accountant Tammy Leslie has been taking one of her two Camaros to drag races.

And last month, she won her first race.

The Ladysmith Downtown Business Association (LDBA) director and Ladysmith Show and Shine committee member took her four-speed 1980 Camaro nicknamed Lucy-Bee to the drag races in Sechelt on the Sunshine Coast and won first place in the street car class.

Besides Lucy-Bee,  Leslie has another Camaro, a 1970-and-a-half Z28 model, which she says is fairly rare for that year.

The Z28 has been completely restored, and Leslie now takes the car to shows instead of races. Leslie’s husband Dwight did most of the work himself, her cousin helped take it apart, and Little Valley Restorations helped restore the car. Last year, the Z28 won Best Paint at the Parksville and Qualicum shows.

Leslie started drag racing when she was living in Sechelt.

After seeing their friends run in the drag races there, her husband decided to race. Leslie was pregnant, so she couldn’t race, but the next year, she wanted to try, and she fell in love with it.

“It’s fun — as long as you don’t take it seriously,” she said. “You meet a lot of neat people.”

Leslie likes the adrenaline rush of racing.

“It’s the fastest you can go without getting a ticket,” she laughs. “If you do a little burnout, no one cares.”

Drag racing involves time trials to see how fast your car is running, and during the actual races, you have to dial in, which means you pick how fast you think your car can go, and you can’t go any faster, explained Leslie.

“You don’t have to be the fastest car to win — you just have to be the most consistent driver,” she said. “It totally evens it up.”

Leslie drives a four-speed, which she shifts manually like a standard, and she says this makes it harder to be consistent.

While Leslie’s cousins in the Comox Valley have classic cars, her parents weren’t into cars or racing when she was growing up.

She hopes her children — who are 11 and 14 — will continue to show interest though.

Leslie has taken her children in her car as passengers during the time trials, and her daughter is only two years away from being able to race when she has her N licence.

“I wouldn’t stop them if they wanted to,” she said.

Dwight has lost interest in racing over the years.

“He comes and watches, but he doesn’t want to drive,” said Leslie.

Leslie, a partner with Atchison Palmer Leslie Chartered Accountants, moved to Yellow Point from Sechelt 10 years ago. She has been a member of the Ladysmith Show and Shine committee for three years.

Leslie is the committee’s treasurer, and she has been a driving force for the Friday night Rod Run and has been in charge of the ladies’ poker walk, an initiative of the LDBA during the Show and Shine.

“We’re trying to build up the Rod Run on the Friday night,” said Leslie. “It’s a neat way to see the cars. It’s one thing to see the cars on the strip, but it’s something different to hear them running. It’s a chance for everybody to come together.”

Besides cars, Leslie is really interested in martial arts.

She has been training at taekwondo for almost 11 years, and she is a fourth-degree black belt.

“I got into martial arts because I wanted an exercise program,” she said. “It keeps you fit, and it’s good for your mind — it’s good stress relief. I got addicted to it.”

Leslie also rides horses.

A Certified General Accountant and Chartered Accountant with more than 20 years’ experience, Leslie is the LDBA’s treasurer, and she is treasurer for her children’s school Parent Advisory Council.