Go to any motorsport event and you’ll see a good number of guys in the crowd; it’s not much of a secret that the car-loving audience has traditionally leaned toward a typecast male population. On a small 12-acre ranch in Kelowna, British Columbia, alpaca breeder and tea blender Tracy Banner is shattering those stereotypes – with a smile on her face and pedal to the floor.
In her late teens, Banner scraped together a few dollars to buy her first car. “I had a Fiat X1/9”, she says. “In fact I had two, including one for parts. I ended up driving the parts car.” Within a year Banner upgraded to an MR2 and then a 4WD Turbo Celica. “My next car was a limited vapor blue Turbo Beetle.” She laughs. “I don’t know why. It didn’t last long.” She also raced Yamaha YSR mini sport bikes before buying a Honda CBR900, her favourite. “Now the bikes are gone – except for one.”
Banner moved from Regina almost two decades ago, and has spent the last 13 years on a Kelowna farm raising alpacas where she’s recognized as the province’s top breeder. Always up for a challenge, Banner recently launched the Flying Leaf Tea Company specializing in hand blended organic teas and tisanes. Ranching and tea aside, Banner is happiest when driving her aspen white 2008 Lotus Exige S. “I like the Exige because it corners better than anything out there, and it's a bit outrageous.”
Along with the Lotus, Banner has a 2013 ML63 AMG for when she needs to get the kids somewhere quickly. And in the garage is a newly acquired stock 1991 MR2, the car of Banner’s driving roots; it needs some updating, but the main goal is to improve suspension and make the car track-ready. “I hope to start on it this week”, she says with a smile.
Banner is excited for the Area 27 driving school with Richard Spenard. “When I’m driving I like to take corners as fast as I can – this will give me a chance to learn more. I bought these cars to drive them properly.” She tries to visit Exotics Racing in Las Vegas each year to drive other luxury sports cars. “I also like the styling of Lamborghini. I’d love to own one of those some day.”
As soon as the Area 27 motorsport club opens in the Okanagan, Banner expects she’ll be using her membership to its fullest. “It will be great to drive with people who are respectful of their cars and of other drivers.”
We’ll catch up with you on the corners, Tracy. (if we can)
photos by Voth Photography