An eight-year-old girl has died after crashing her vehicle at a junior drag racing event in Western Australia.
Anita Board, who had celebrated her birthday just days before the tragedy, was practising to get her drag racing licence at the Perth Motorplex.
She was treated by paramedics at the scene after crashing into a concrete barrier at the end of a solo run on Saturday and died in hospital the next day.
Her father, Ian, said her death was a “one in a million event”, adding: “Our baby girl Anita had a bright, bubbly personality and her smile was infectious.
“Her passion for motor sport, drag racing, and being here as a family with her sister at the track was the highlight of her life.
“We were blessed to have had her for eight years and she’s going to be forever missed.
“We are grateful for the love and support of the drag racing community, the junior dragster association and the worldwide support we’ve had.”
He added: “We chose drag racing because we believed it was the safest form of motor sport that we could allow our girls to do. The history speaks for itself.”
The Australian National Drag Racing Association (ANDRA) said it is “deeply saddened” by the incident which is being investigated by police.
“Everyone at the ANDRA extends its sincere and deepest condolences to Anita’s family, friends and the wider drag racing community at this tragic time,” the statement said.
“ANDRA will continue to assist police with their investigations while supporting Anita’s family, and ask that the privacy of the family is respected at this tragic time.”
Perth Motorplex said in a statement: “Our deepest sympathies go to Anita’s family and friends. We ask that their privacy is respected during this very difficult time.”
Friends of the girl’s family have posted tributes on social media and changed their profile photos to Rainbow Dash from My Little Pony, a character that was emblazoned on her 210cc dragster.
“Knowing how much she loved her drag racing and how you guys as a family followed that dream to end up like this … I don’t know why she was taken so young, but at least it was doing something she loved,” wrote Pete Styles.
Lee-ann Durant added: “I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I just can’t even begin to imagine how you are feeling, my heart breaks for you. Sending love your way.”
Competitors can compete in ANDRA events from the age of eight and must not exceed speed limits of 60mph under official guidelines, Perth Now reports.
Acting premier of Western Australia, Roger Cook, said raising the legal age for competing in drag racing events would be considered.