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Women in Wheels | Meet Jeanette, SA's fastest woman who made history in a Ford Mustang

2020-08-24 08:30

Janine Van der Post

Jeanette Kok-Kritzinge

Jeanette Kok-Kritzinge with the Ford Mustang she used to set the SA Women's Land Speed Record in 1999. Image: Ford SA

• Jeanette Kok-Kritzinger is one of only a few female motoring journalists in SA.

• She's also a former racing driver.

• In 1999, Jeanette set the SA Women's Land Speed Record.

• For more motoring stories, go to www.Wheels24.co.za


There are only a few female motoring journalists in South Africa, and Jeanette Kok-Kritzinger is one of them. She's a wife and a mother to two adorable little boys. She can also drive the heck out of any man I know.

Jeanette is one of my two regular driving partners on new car launches; more importantly, she's also my prayer-sister. Her faith is as strong as her tenacious driving skills, and she is a complete petrolhead. Her love for speed is insatiable. 

I have been driving with this woman for years, and not once has she ever given any inclination that she's a blooming living legend. I know she's a speedfreak who loves every aspect of motoring and motorsport. I know she used to race motorcycles, and I know she used to be a Group-N production car driver - something instilled by her rally-driving parents. Yet, I never knew that one of my closest friends holds the South African National land-speed record as the fastest woman in the country.

So why is she so special? Well, in 1999 Jeanette aimed a heavily-modified Mustang down a cordoned-off section of the N3, in 1999, with only one goal on her mind – to become the fastest woman in South Africa. 

Jeanette Kok-Kritzinge

Jeanette with the Ford Mustang in 1999.

Jeanette and her husband Carl host an Afrikaans motoring radio show called Wiele2Wiele on 23 radio stations in SA, Channel 7 in Namibia and on Maroela Media.

Jeanette says: "It was my aim to set a Women's Land Speed Record and by doing so, be an inspiration for women in motorsport. In the mid-nineties, there were really only a few women participating in motorsport, and I wanted to make South Africa aware of the fact that women could be involved in motorsport and that you have to follow your dreams,".

According to Ford SA, Jeanette was already writing a name for herself across various national circuit racing championships, albeit in cars with much less power and running at far slower speeds than Peter Lindenberg's Mustang (which Jeanette used for the record) would be capable of achieving. 

Ford says this daunting juxtaposition in speed, size and power was apparent when Jeanette tested the Mustang at Lanseria Airport - although in retrospect nothing could adequately prepare her for 29 July 1999 when the prospect of being the fastest woman in South Africa rested in her hands.

Jeanette Kok-Kritzinge

Jeanette with Peter Lindenberg with his Ford Mustang used to set the record in 1999. Image: Supplied by Ford SA

Sharing the car with Lindenberg, Jeanette wielded the 550kW, 6.0-litre V8 Ford Mustang to a speed of 314.17km/h on her first attempt. Then within the hour, she pointed it in the opposite direction, as per the rules, and managed 301.07km/h, resulting in an average speed of 307.9km/h. It's an extraordinary record that remains unbroken to this day.

I could gush about Jeanette forever. She lives for her husband and her two boys, and she is such a warrior for the Lord, but you would never guess all these fantastic things about her motorsport accolades or her career at first glance. She's one of the most humble, hard-working, and sincere people I know. She wouldn't harm a fly, nor would she ever even think of offending anyone. I don't even think I've ever heard her cuss in more than the 15 years I know her. She's quiet, beautiful, and has taught me valuable lessons of faith and inner-strength you can't learn from any textbook or online course.

But, when this woman steps into a car, a fast one at that, you better hold on to your socks. She is an incredible driver, one who can pilot any beast of a car with aplomb. I love watching the expression on her face when we're putting a new car through its paces on launches, or in her most natural playground - the racetrack.  

And I know some of our male peers might get upset about this, but Jeanette drives better than most guys in the industry. I love hearing her shrill at the sound of a resonant roar from a burbling engine, or the way we giggle endlessly when an exceptional launch control throws us back into our seats in an electric Porsche Taycan. Whether we're driving a Chevrolet Spark, or a Bentley Bentayga, Jeanette respects these machines we operate, and knows how to handle any vehicle.

 

I guess that's what makes her such a phenomenal woman, and we are honoured to call her one of our sisters in motoring.
Read more about Jeanette Kok-Kritzinger when we feature her again later in August.

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