BECCY LAYTON was never any good at sport at school. More to the point, she didn't even try.
"I didn't like competition or confrontation, so I used to get my mum to write notes so I didn't have to do PE or sports day," she said.
So imagine mum's shock when Beccy phoned to say she was taking her first sporting steps – racing hot rods.
Not only had she never driven a hot rod, she had never driven a car of any description.
More astonishing still, the first drive did not come until she was steering her bright purple Peugeot 306 the 200 yards from her caravan to the race circuit for her competitive debut.
"I only have a provisional licence and I have never had a driving lesson," said Beccy, from Barnstaple.
Sitting next to her on the short drive to the circuit was boyfriend Brian Colwill, a bangers diehard whose enthusiasm had rubbed off on Beccy.
"He talked me through it up to the starting line," said Beccy. "I asked a couple of questions, he got out, and I just went for it."
For many a learner it takes more than one lesson to master the coordination of clutch and accelerator. Beccy's strategy? "I just put my foot down, let the clutch up, and hoped for the best."
And off she went, with five other cars, in the second race at the South West Bangers meeting at Mullacott Cross on Sunday.
In an instant Beccy's spirit set her free. All her fears were devoured by the thrill of the moment. Had she been scared?
"Petrified," said friend and trackside official Kat Smith. "But I admire her for doing it."
Fear of injury was not what worried Beccy, more death by embarrassment.
"Waiting at the start I was thinking, 'Please don't make myself look an idiot'," she said. "If I get hurt, I get hurt – it's not the end of the world, I can deal with that – but I have always had a problem with attention on me, knowing people are watching me, getting it wrong, and feeling a fool."
Over a 12-lap non-contact race for front-wheel drive hot rods, Beccy finished last but sounded like a winner.
"I finished last but I finished," she said, joy in her voice. "And I drove back to the pits all by myself."
Mum, Debbie Sanderson, was overcome with emotion. What a change in her 24-year-old daughter, a full-time mother of two.
"About two weeks ago she rang up and said, 'Will you come and watch me banger racing'," said Debbie. "I was in shock, total shock.
"She is my eldest daughter and I thought, 'Oh my God, I don't want her hurt'. I wanted to wrap her in cotton wool.
"But I am so proud of her, proud that she had the guts to do it. As soon as she came off the track I went to give her a hug and a kiss.
"I am pleased she has tried something different because she has two little kids and there is more to life than children. She has found something really exciting."
It is barely two months since Beccy and Brian began dating, less still since he introduced her to banger racing.
"She didn't even know what it was," said Brian. "I am a little bit obsessive about bangers, so if a girl is with me she has got to like it. But I wasn't expecting her to go for it quite so quickly."
Arriving at Cleave Farm, the event venue, the night before, Beccy was accompanied by her two children, Kaleb, 3, and Suraya, 2.
The evening was spent painting her children's names on her car as well as the number 189.
"One is the month I was born, 89 the year," said Beccy.
In bangers, drivers aim and fire their cars at each other, a case of bangers and smash.
In hot rods, collisions are incidental but, on an oval dirt track travelling at speed, they are plentiful.
So it was dangerous, was it not, for Beccy, not knowing what she was doing?
"Not a lot," said Brian, pointing out front-wheel drive hot rods are easier to control than rear-wheel drive.
"I built the car with the help of a friend and we have been doing it for years so we know how to build a car safe.
"The worst thing that can happen is the car rolls over, but we have fitted proper harnesses, a roll cage and a door bar on the side in case anyone drives into you."
Martin Hayes was the only front-wheel drive hot rods driver to take two wins on Sunday, while Wayne Goldsmith led the way in rear-wheel drive hot rods with three victories.
Two other drivers recorded three wins – Jonathan Marshall in rookies and Connor Charlton in juniors.
Problems with a fuel pipe denied Beccy a start in the second race, but Brian fixed it in time for her to return for a later race.
She completed eight of 10 laps before being run off under pressure from leaders lapping her.
Excited by her new sport, Beccy went to bed looking forward to racing again the next afternoon on the second day of the two-day bank holiday meeting.
"I am going to keep going and I hope to get into rear-wheel drives eventually," she said.
One day she will even learn to drive on the road. Out there with the regular motorists, taking her hot rod bad habits with her?
Boyfriend Brian has no such worries. "If you get into a car (for the first time) normally, you don't know what anything does," he said. "But Beccy knows where everything is now."