Emma Pritchard, Clarence Valley Independent
Ruby Howell has her sights firmly set on a bright future. And the enthusiastic eight-year-old from Grafton is on track to achieve her dreams.
Born with Persistent Fetal Vasculature (PFV) and a congenital cataract in her left eye, Ruby underwent surgery at 12 weeks, 16 weeks, and five years of age, in an attempt to rectify her vision. But after years of wearing contact lenses and patches, it was determined her left eye would always have little, to low vision.
Conscious of providing every opportunity to encourage their daughter to be confident and independent, Ruby’s parents Aaron and Emily Howell taught her how to drive a quad bike on their property. And her passion for racing hit the accelerator.
Demonstrating her talent and skill behind the wheel, Ruby quickly progressed from a quad bike to a Stock Polaris RZR 170 and expressed an interest in Side-by-Side Racing.
While children are not allowed to compete in the sport professionally in Australia, Ruby recently travelled overseas with her family to take part in the Competitive Off-Road Racing Series 2022 National Race Event at Carolina Adventure World in Winnsboro, South Carolina (USA), on November 25 and 26, in her Stock Polaris RZR 200.
During the competition, she placed second in the Kids Stock Class, third in the Kids Amateur Endurance Race, consisting of on-track and off-road racing, where she was the only competitor driving a Stock Class UTV, and won the Youth Drag Race against other drivers in Stock Class UTVs.
She said her win in the Youth Drag Race was especially thrilling, as she was allowed to have her younger sister Matilda, 4, ride with her in the co-pilot seat.
As she prepares to return to America with her dad in February for the start of the 2023 racing season, Ruby is excited to get behind the wheel again, and said she loves “going fast and going over jumps.”
“I have a lot of fun when I’m racing,” she said.
“At first, I felt a bit nervous when I started to drive, but then I got into it a few weeks later and now I really love it.
“I really like travelling from Australia to America to race, and Dad has also promised that one day I can fly in business class.”
As Ruby’s racing career progresses, the Howell family would like to extend a special shout out to Bo Typrin, Megan Sqwurrel, and Ryan Thornton for their encouragement, along with staff at Clarence Valley Anglican School (CVAS), who continue to support Ruby and prepare homework packages for her to take overseas.
Ruby also has her own Facebook page, the Ruby Racing Channel, and is quickly establishing a following within the Clarence Valley.
The Clarence Valley Independent is looking forward to catching up with Ruby again next year!
This article appeared in the Clarence Valley Independent, 21 December 2022.