LAURA Harris learned to drive at the age of 11.

“My dad was in the army and he taught me in an old Rover Montego, on the parade square,” she recalls. “When I was even younger and could not reach the pedals he would sit me on his knee and let me steer. We used to go off-road on land behind Leeds-Bradford Airport.”

At home cars and car parts were part of life. “Dad was always tinkering with cars. He would do the same with motorbikes and radios. There were always bits and pieces lying around.”

As soon as she turned 17, Laura “had to get a licence”. “My sister did not start driving until she was 21, but I took my test as soon as possible.”

She bought a car - an Austin Mini - straight away. “I chose a Mini as I fancied a lad in our sixth form who liked them,” she laughs. “I soon went off him, but the Mini stuck.”

Her first long trip, soon after buying the car, was to visit her dad in Telford. “He took me to Halfords and bought some bits for it - oil filter, air filter, fan belt and other parts - and taught me how to service it. I’ve always serviced my own cars where possible.”

An accident not long after saw the car written off and replaced with another Mini, which Laura, 38, still owns.

Beige, with a maroon roof, the vehicle - which her friends named Bertie - holds a special place in her affections. “I got it on my 18th birthday. It is part of the family.”

Laura, who lives in Idle, has worked for the classic car part firm Moss Europe since 2006, a job which has stoked her passion for classic cars, in particular Minis.

Seven years ago, and with no previous experience of circuit racing, she began competing in the Mighty Minis championship.

Launched in 1996, Mighty Minis Racing gives people the chance to take part in circuit racing at an affordable level, making the sport more accessible.

Laura become involved through friend and classic car specialist Andy Harrison, who as well as restoring cars at his Shipley-based company Acespeed Historic Motorsport, he prepares vehicles for races.

“I fancied having a go and Andy was keen and very supportive. My only experience of motorsport had been as a co-driver in a rally ten years previously,” she says.

She races in Betty - all her cars have names - a light blue race car Mini, built especially for the Mighty Minis event, and has also competed in a 24-hour team event driving a Citroen 2CV.

“We finished the race with no mechanical problems,” says Laura. “If you finish a race with a car-shaped car, that’s always a bonus.”

All race cars are fitted with safety trappings including a roll cage, seat harnesses and fire extinguishers. The drivers race at speeds of up to 100 miles per hour.

Laura admits it can be nerve-racking. “I have suffered with nerves. The 2017 season was the first in which I started to feel a bit more relaxed and more confident. After the race is over you are on a massive high.”

During a practice session at the last event of 2017, Laura sustained minor injuries in a crash.

“It took six months to recover medically,” she says, adding that she is looking forward to the next racing season. Unfortunately, Betty was also severely damaged in the incident and the shell was a write off.

“Betty is being rebuilt into a new shell and sporting new colours - pink and grey,” says Laura. “I am itching to get going again.”

Of the many cars she has owned over the years, she wishes she had held on to her Peugeot 205 GTI. “I wish I had not sold it but I had problems with the gear box and it would have been expensive to fix. They are collector’s items now,” she says.

She has not let go of her 1961 MG Midget MK1 called Mo and her “everyday car”, Polly, a VW Passat, which has 185,000 miles on the clock and is still going strong.

“I am not precious about it, if it gets bumped or scratched. I feel more protective of my MINI, my Midget or my van.”

In what spare time she has, Laura works on Vera, her Vauxhall Vivaro, which she is converting into a camper van. “It has a rock and roll bed, a sink and a fridge in the back. I will use it for going to races and for holidays.

Like her dad, she loves doing up cars. “I’m happy when I am tinkering and getting my hands dirty.”

Always on the lookout, Laura has her eye on a Porsche Cayman. “I’ve always loved Porsche. I love 911s but they are out of my price range. The Cayman is one of the lesser-known Porsches, but very reliable with fantastic handling, and they have really grown on me….dare I say, I think I now prefer them to the 911.’’

She also owns a motorbike - a Suzuki sv650S, called Suzi. “She is 21 years old - I have had her since 2007.”

But her heart belongs to Minis. “They are nippy, cheeky, handle the road well and they are fun…you can get away with almost anything in a mini. Driving along the winding roads in the Yorkshire Dales is such a pleasure.”

Laura is always on the look out for potential sponsors to help her get through a season of racing, even if it is just sponsoring a set of tyres. Anyone interested can contact her through her facebook page @LauraHarrisRacing.

*Tell us about your car in our regular feature My Car and Me. You don’t have to be a petrolhead to get involved.

We’d love to hear from readers about their cars, big or small, old or new, classic or sporty. We would like to know what they mean to you.

To tell us about your motor or motors, answer all or some of these questions:

*What was your first car and why did you buy it?

*What vehicle do you now drive (model/year) and what do you like about it?

*For what do you mainly use your car? Do you take it shows or events?

*What is your dream vehicle and why?

*What does a car say about its driver?

*What does your car say about you?

*Would you consider an electric car?

*What is your favourite road to drive on and why?

Please email your answers - with a photo of your car and a contact number - to or or use our link