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Monday, November 19, 2007

Hello Everyone!
I know it has been an absolute AGE since I have written and that is terrible considering the places and people I have seen and all the GREAT things I got to do while I have been! As you may have found, I kinda lost my webpage too. After I left for Germany my computer crashed taking all the files with it (No... I don't backup stuff... I live dangerously...)! After that I couldn't find the actual hosting site who was looking after the files... But finally I have been able to break into my blog here... I have been doing a bit of My-space-ing of late and I have a few things up there so that you can see that I have been up to. The link for that is: and is pretty informal. Unlike here where for the past few years I have been behaving myself as the good race team owner and manager (oh and driver!) I let loose there and share with my friends the stuff that is also going on in my head.

As for what went on while I was in Germany the first time AND the second time, you will just have to stay tunned because I have a few stories to tell of the final round last year as well as the events that followed Germany, culminating in me living in Germany for 3 months last year and this, and my moving in a few days to Western Australia! I know that it is super slack to leave ya'll hanging, but as it is 1:26am here in NSW I think I better get cracking on sorting photos and everything so you get a coherant post...

Just a tip, Team Pink is still going ahead for those of you who are interested... It will be part of a new web based initiative in the automotive realms and will hopefully revolutionise the way I find sponsorship dollars basically... (ie; I will be using my own money from now on! hehehe...).

Keep in touch and I will update everything ASAP!!!

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Monday, September 25, 2006


With an amazing and very weird weekend behind me, I am now able to start looking forward to the two weeks ahead of me! I am leaving for Germany in less than 24 hours and for now, everything seems to be going according to plan.

On Saturday and Sunday just passed I raced at Eastern Creek Raceway in the final round of the NSW State championship. It was a crazy weekend for a few reasons, but I'll cover that in the race report in a few hours... Till then I am just getting all my packing and washing done in preparation for my flight which leaves at 3:40pm tomorrow afternoon. I have spent the day shopping, running errands, picking up altered and repaired clothes, visiting Dad at work and getting my mobile phone/digital camera saga sorted out.

On Friday night though I was in SUCH a panic over getting all my Pro E stuff done that I realized that I didn't have a computer that could run it. Amazingly enough my bestest bud Jade lent me her and Michael's laptop to take away with me! My laptop can't handle running Pro Engineer, the solid modeling program that I need to do all my drawings in... It is SUCH a blessing and now means that I will be able to do ALL my uni work without drama whilst overseas. What a good set of mates those 2 are, huh?

Ok. Back to packing. Will get onto the weekend's race report when it is done!

Luv Kirsty

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Friday, September 01, 2006

Peak Women's Organisations Meeting

Yesterday I was invited to give an address to some representatives from Peak Women's organisations in New South Wales. This was held at the MLC building in Martin Place and was to share my experiences from my involvement in Motorsport and the A1GP in Eastern Creek and Dubai.

It was heaps of fun and lovely to meet so many nice ladies who are working so hard to make our country not only a great place to live, but a place where you can achieve your goals and furfill your dreams. Thanks must go out to the Office for Women for organising it and giving me a chance to share all the ups and downs of my experiences... Even the embarrassing bits!

For those interested, I have posted the notes from the speech and the slideshow that accompinied it on my old site, so you can download them through THIS notes link and THIS powerpint presentation link.

Thankyou to all who attended and wished me luck on my trip to Germany in the coming weeks. It is all much appreciated and helps me get over the nerves!

PS> I just found out that Sydney Anglicans have me up on their site. Rock on guys, I love the site and the publications! Hi to everyone that reads it! :)

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Monday, August 28, 2006


Yes, it is official! YAY! I just got word that Fernwood Women's Heath Clubs in the Illawarra has decided to sponsor me as a driver in fitness and training in prepeartion for my trip to Germany!
The last week I have been on a free trial membership but through application to them, the ladies who own the Illawarra clubs have decided to extend my membership through to before I leave!

What a fantastic partnership! I must thank Grace Benavente & Adriana Ampuero who are the franchise owners in the Illawarra... You ladies are definantly making my dream become a reality! Fernwood clubs are FANTASTIC! No wonder that guy Peter Hellier is always trying to get in! Who can blame him? The environment there is welcoming, encouraging and most of all FUN! I love that the adies there know everyone by name and are only too willing to help!

Fernwoods in the Illawarra can be found at:

  • Wollongong: 67-69 Burelli St Wollongong NSW 2500
  • Shellharbour: 12 College Ave Shellharbour City Centre NSW 2529
  • Woonona: 335 Princes Hwy Woonona NSW 2517

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Monday, August 21, 2006

The most un-lucky driver in the field, or just the dumbest?

This is the question I was asking myself yesterday in the final race of the weekend for the 5th round of the NSW State championship. After a shocker of a weekend to this point, I thought that pulling off the line that slowly was just another bit of bad luck, but after a brush of the gear stick alerted me to my own stupidity, I started to think otherwise...

I spose I should start at the very start... but I am hesitant to share the details for fear of my own stupidity coming back to bite me in the bum in the form of CAMS coming to revoke my license... Oh well. It gets cancelled in 1 meetings time to make way for my trip to Germany, so I will share away. Lets just hope this doesn't make it to Germany's version of CAMS otherwise they might not want to give me a license!!! Somehow I can't see Garth Tander and the like ever making a mistake like this!!! But yes, lets start at the start!

Friday 18th August 2006

It is finally here! ROUND 5 and I am on the start sheet!!! And there is to be no DNS attached to that! I am really really racing for the first time in months! After blowing our engine to bits in Round 2 at Eastern Creek, I know I have alot resting on my shoulders to bring it back in one piece. So, I made the 'Executive" decision to get ourselves down to Goulburn on Friday rather than early Saturday morning, to aid in settling ourselves in and being prepared!

We arrive at the LOVELY Mike's Manor in Goulburn, after we have dropped the car at the track and have dinner. All is going well till bedtime when I can't catch a break! I wake at 1am, look at the bedside clock which registers 3am and decide to go watch some telly to let me get back to sleep. Collingwood vs. St Kilda(I think) is on... Last time I looked those games play on TV at about 11pm till 2am usually. So, I go check another clock and panic. I am NEVER going to get any sleep at this rate! Finally I pass out in bed... most likely from panicked hyperventilation than actual sleep... But I am out like a light none the less!

Saturday 19th August, 2006

After that crappy night was out of the way, we downed a nice brekkie at Mike's and then set off for the track. Once there we ran over the final bits of preparation in the freezing cold(There was ice on our car! Check coming photos for proof!). As scrutineering came and passed, we prepared for qualifying. Once on the grid, I realised that I had half the field of 1600s behind me. Not my choice, but the position I was placed in none the less. Once they were out of the way I settled in to try and just get some decent times out. But with that many people behind you, it was only a matter of time till the other 1600s caught up and I was back to slowing down and getting off racing line to wave them past.

It resulted in merely equalling my PB, something I was hoping to break with the new engine in place, but the car was running well, except for bogging down in the fishhook... It started to sound like my crappy little town basher Astra which normally only runs on 3 cylinders!!!Now at the back of the grid, I hoped that I would be able to at least hold onto the guys in front for a bit of the way, but off the line the car seemed to bog a bit and I watched everyone else take off... Very depressing. But, after waving everyone through again in the last lap and almost getting taken out by one of them, I decided that something needed to change! and it was most likely me! What the hell was wrong? As I came into the final corner of the last lap I saw the yellows just in time as Simon Duffy and Bruce Pearce came to rest after a pretty big accident. Both drivers came out okay and I was able to sneak past to receive the chequered flag... Race 1 out of the way.

Sunday 20th August, 2006

After a less than average start on Saturday, and one talking to by CAMS officials on my poor performance, I decided that this nut behind the wheel business needed to be dealt with. As I sat down with Dad and had a talk about what was going on, we decided that whilst we needed to circulate to get the engine and me working together again, we needed a bit more pace. At some stage during this Dad revved the engine and shifted a spark plug lead.

After getting back on the grid and trying to get off the line again, I found that the bogging down of the fish hook had gotten 10 times worse and now plagued me on the whole circuit. It was sounding worse than the Astra now and wasn't giving me ANY power at all. I knew that I needed to circulate for points, I knew that I was a bit of a danger out there being so slow, but I also knew that if I kept going and it was something other than what I was thinking, it might do our new engine some injustice. So, as I came around to pit wall on the straight, I looked to dad hoping to see him telling me what to do. But he just sat there. It turns out his philosophy was "I didn't hear any rattles, I knew it was only running on 2 cylinders, so why bring her in?''

With this mentality I jammed it in 3rd and attempted not to touch the brakes at all. I got around in a best time of 1:25 sec, only 5 seconds off the pace of my qualifying time(Very Very poor if you look at what the other 1200s are capable of doing!). The race was done and I was hoping to God that we weren't also... The officials cleared us and Dad assured me that it was just the plugs and he replaced the now fouled ones. I was frustrated, but understood I had one more shot at doing something...

As Race 3 came around we lined up. I have to keep it in 3rd whilst going around on the warm up lap and normally stop at the top of the straight and change to 1st... Now this is where all my stupidity rears its ugly head. Instead of this I rolled onto my normal position and awaited the start. Lights come on, lights go off, and I can hardly move. The Revs go from 4ooo ish to near nothing as the car spluttered, threatening to stall all together. Some how I saved it, but because of what happened in the last race didn't think to check that I was in 3rd, which would have been my normal reaction. I instead got the revs up again and got going-in 3rd. thinking still that this was a spark plug issue I did my best to try and keep up, but again the field went ahead. I shifted then into what I thought was 2nd and did what I thought was my "best" with what I had.

I decided that I would try a different tact to that I had been trying for the previous laps and downshifted. After brushing the gear stick as I brought my hand through to change gears I got the shock of my life as I found that I was in 4th. Words can't describe the anger I felt at myself. I knew that in only 1 lap the 1600s would be up my backside, the CAMS officials would be preparing to rip my license up and Dad and everyone else would think I was the world's STUPIDEST driver ever to grace the cockpit. Anyways, to cut a long and very embarrassing story short, I got the thing working right(Me, not the car) and tried to get some time back, knowing full well that the 1600s would be coming crashing through any second. Sure enough on the 4th lap the 1600s came roaring in behind me. I got off line, almost in the dirt trying to salvage something of a reputation as a decent driver(Erm, yeah right...) and let them all through.

As I finally got across the finish line I was fuming. I had my last chance and I threw it away. I know what happens to people like that! They get awards at the presentation dinner like the "Mirrors" award for someone who is constantly looking in their mirrors... Ugh! Please people... I have been punished enough!

So now that that is all over with, I am quite assured that I have done EVERY stupid thing in motorsport and hence have learnt every single lesson there is to learn... Never able to make a stupid mistake again...Okay... SO I will do plenty of stupid things in the future, but I am young... Isn't that what it's all about???

Thanks to Dad and John Fab for getting it all together for me... Lets not go through all that again, huh?

Luv Kirst

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Saturday, August 12, 2006

Well... Its official! Lasts and Lasts goes INTERNATIONAL!

Last flying out to be first!

NSW Formula Vee driver and University of Wollongong student, Kirsty Last has been offered an opportunity that most people can only dream of. A chance to drive a racing car at Nürburgring circuit in Germany. And not just in any race, but a race of nations.

Hoping to take some inspiration from the Socceroos success in Germany, Kirsty will be representing Australia in a .World Cup. race against drivers from Great Britain, Ireland, South Africa and mainland Europe. The race is being put on to help celebrate 40 years of Formula Vee (Formel V) in Germany, and caps off the celebrations world wide for the open wheeler category.

This experience alone would be enough, but Kirsty has also been offered the opportunity to drive a touring car in a separate event, the international guests will also tour racing facilities and car manufacturing plants such as Porsche as part of the activities. As a young and upcoming engineer and driver in the industry, this is the perfect opportunity for her to make contacts and learn from the best in the world.

Kirsty was selected by Harry Ohs and Jürgen Bußmann of the German Formula Vee Association, for her willingness to learn and eagerness to be a part of the motor racing industry. This is the perfect follow up to her Women in Motorsport scholarship, in which Kirsty worked with the Australian A1GP team at Eastern Creek in NSW and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates in 2005.
Kirsty is also working on Racecar development in her studies as a Mechanical Engineer at the University of Wollongong in NSW, she will be presenting to her international counterparts the .Australian News "about Formula Vee and its future.

"I am still finding it hard to believe I am going. When someone contacts you out of the blue and says 'Hey, we have heard of you, come drive a race car at Nürburgring'. you are naturally hesitant to accept it as real! But the German Association and Harry and Jürgen have been so enthusiastic about an Australian coming over, that it has helped me come to terms with the shock!" Said Kirsty on the announcement of the opportunity.

The car she currently drives in the NSW State championships is a 1984 Elfin with a 1200cc engine from a Volkswagen Bug. The German Formel V Association will be providing her with a Golf powered Vee with wings!
The Nürburgring is the most famous motorsport race track in Germany. It features several track configurations. The shorter, modern version called GP-Strecke, will be used for the 40th Anniversary Formula Vee event with the older, much longer version of the Ring called the Nordschleife ("Northern Loop"), being used for the proposed touring car event. Nicknamed The Green Hell by Sir Jackie Stewart, it is widely considered the toughest and most demanding purpose-built race track in the world.
Racing for the 40th Anniversary is between the 6th and 8th of October.

To keep up to date with happenings with Kirsty and her team, check their wesbite: or Kirsty.s personal blog:
For further information, please contact Margaret Last: (02)9600 7897 or through the team email,

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Friday, August 04, 2006

Young Engineers Public Speaking Competition!

The other night (Tuesday I think) I entered a public speaking competition at uni for Young Engineers Australia. A sub-bit of IEAUST, the professional orgnisation for Engineers in Australia. The main idea of entering was due to the fact that I needed the money. As a poor uni student, the idea of making a little money by getting up in front of some people and giving a little song and dance on a subject wasn't too daunting. So, for completion's sake, I have decided to stick it up on here. It is basically about the need for my vacation positions. Not a fantastic or world changing topic (by itself of course!) but the whole idea was to rip into something that you know about and to entertain the audience. A warm up for what engineers should be doing in industry. Well, I don't know if the Dean was too happy with my opening joke, but it prooves the point. Here it is:

PS... The slide show that went with this, really helps to emphasise some bits, so sorry if you miss some of the ideas because I can't post that with it!

Speech for competition:"The Importance of Industry Placement Initiatives for Young Engineers,Specifically the Women in Motor Sport Scholarship".

The Accounting graduate asks, "How much will it cost?"
The Science graduate asks, "Why does it work?"
The Engineering graduate asks, "How does it work?"
And the Arts graduate asks, "Do you want fries with that?"

Its funny and very stereotypical, but is it time to stop and ask ourselves, are these afore mentioned “real” degrees in danger of producing graduates that fit into the latter category?

Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen, my name is Kirsty Last and I am an engineer.

Or at least I am trying to be. I currently study Mechanical Engineering at the University of Wollongong, and whilst undertaking this degree I have had to ask myself and my industry some pretty hard questions..
Why you may ask? Well, I better start at the very beginning. defines an engineer as: “One who is trained or professionally engaged in a branch of engineering, who uses scientific knowledge to solve practical problems.” It was found to be synonymous with the words “Mastermind, direct, organise and orchestrate.”

Whilst your average engineering student may reply that they are the best drinkers of the academia community, they are undeniably the movers and shakers of the world’s industries.

Today, engineering educators list the profession’s biggest threats for the future as a downturn in engineering enrolments. As a student who went through the long and arduous process of finding a way into University, I would beg to differ. I pose that the greater threat to the profession today is actually the missing link. Not attracting kids to enrol, but finding a way to build them up and provide them with the necessary experiences they need to find their way in the wide and varied fields of Engineering.

The basic way one becomes an engineer today is to rock up to your nearest University and beg and barter your way in. Once in you undertake some sort of basic introduction to the sciences and maths. You are then given the opportunity to customise your education to your wants through the selection of elective subjects. With all this reading, writing and arithmetic well under way, the University decides it is high time to take your first steps in industry. So, over one of your summer holiday periods they promptly chuck you out the door and tell you to get a job.

It sounds like the logical path for the engineer to take, but looking closely at the method, makes one wonder if it really is all it is cracked up to be.

Currently Universities and APESMA, A professional engineering association, have a going list of all current employers that have suitable vacation employment initiatives. This list for a discipline as popular as say Mechanical engineering, has about 80 positions. There are more informal methods of applying also, but either way, it is then the student’s responsibility to get the ball rolling, make some applications, go to some interviews and hope for the best.

All in all, it seems like a pretty good setup. The industry takes on young student engineers, gives them a taste of the real world and then hopes to pick them up upon graduation to ensure the industry encourages growth.

But, as many students have found, this is not an easy process and does not always return a positive result. If we do the maths, say just for Australia, and If we pretend that each position available is a lolly and each student vying for a vacation position is a hungry little kid, we can look at the statistics this way.

There are 33 Universities in Australia offering engineering in 20 different disciplines. If only 20 of these unis offer mechanical engineering and there about 20 students enrolled in each of these, that works out to 400 hungry little kids looking for a lolly EVERY summer break. And that is in Mechanical Engineering alone! Admitingly, due to the size of Australia, these students are spread throughout a country of 20 million people, but the fact of the matter is, there just aren’t enough jobs to go around.

So what is the solution? Well, the easy option is to drop a need for vacation industry experience. If there is no need for it, there is no demand for positions. But is it that easy? That means that somewhere in the barren wasteland between Engineering studies and sitting behind a desk in a graduate position you are meant to have gained all the knowledge and understanding necessary to pursue a chosen career path.

If we were visual art’s students it would be laughable if the practical application of our skills was overlooked in our education. If we were doctors or nurses, a lack of practical experience would mean it would be a crime to start practising professionally. So as engineers, why is it seen as neither of these extremes when it comes to focusing on the importance on industry placement initiatives?

As a learn to swim teacher, I know that when teaching kids to swim, floating is an essential part, but the getting them up and stroking independently bit is the aim.

So, it is important. But who is going to do anything about it? Who should do something about it? Well, as Aussies, it is our natural reflex to point directly at the Government. And why not? They are the ones that allow for positions in Universities to be regulated so as not to have an influx of graduates into industry. According to them, there is just the right amount of jobs for just the right amount of students.

In 2005 I welcomed with open arms the first in what hopes to be a long line of government and industry initiatives. Or should I say, the government prodding industry to action. The inaugural “Women in Motorsport Scholarship.”
The A1GP of nations was introduced in 2004 as a new category of motorsport that would give all countries a level playing field in which to develop their motorsport interests. The single make formula meant that no one team had an advantage over any other. 25 Nations competed and the category went all over the world.

The day that it was announced that an Australian team was to be formed, The Hon. Sandra Nori, Minister for Women, Sport and Tourisim in NSW stepped up on stage to address a crowd gathered to hear the announcement. As Sandra looked at the crowd she had a brainwave… but I call it divine intervention. She asked herself, “Why aren’t there more young people… young women, involved in this sport?” Here we have a sporting category setup specifically to meet the needs of developing international level motorsport interests, what better opportunity to also develop our young engineers?

And so started the ball rolling for the scholarship. Sandra turned to Australian A1GP seat holder and F1 World champion, Alan Jones and presented the same questions to him. Talking to the Sheik of Dubai and founding chairman of the A1GP- also at the same function, Sandra started to quickly engage the contacts necessary in industry to make the scholarship a reality. The only thing that might have held her back? The industry’s choice to not undertake such a development program. But even they had to admit, it was the best idea in a long time to ensure the growth and longevity of the sport, for what is motorsport without it’s engineers?
The scholarship offered the chance for one young woman, to be part of Australia's pit crew at upcoming A1GP events. Here the winner was able to closely observe a world-class motor racing team in action, and participate in activities that matched their level of knowledge and experience. Amazingly enough, I was selected.

In November 2005 I was part of the crew at the Australian round, at Eastern Creek. I was given the chance to work as an apprentice mechanic to get me familiar with the car itself and what the engineers do to it to make it go faster. This included everything from cleaning and matinence such as dis-assembling and re-assembling the frontbits of the car, and also things like making adjustments to the car in the secretive way that engineers on race teams do. I received valuable knowledge, hands on experience and made lifelong contacts and friends who will serve me in my engineering pursuits here in Australia and abroad.

But this one weekend wasn’t all. In December 2005, I set off for my first taste of motorsport, hands on, at an international level. Dubai in the United Arab Emirates hosted the 6th round of this revolutionary racing category. We braved sandstorms and windburn in 6am starts for pit-stop practice, to assist in new ways on the team. Here I was given a look at Data acquisition, the mathematical and scientific basis for an engineer’s decisions. I learnt first hand the importance of gaining every millisecond in a race to ensure some level of success, and how the team works together in their roles to ensure that. The team’s engineers worked through their own tasks whilst also taking the time to explain to me all the jargon, data and secrets behind success.
The team once again provided me with the time and resources to get my hands dirty. It might sound like a strange thing to get excited about if you aren’t an engineer, but after 3 years of bookwork as a University student, it is like bringing a thirsting man to the beer garden. The knowledge that I received, not to mention the contacts, have set me in great sted to pursue my chosen career path as a race engineer. Without such an initiative, I know that this pursuit would have been less than a pipe dream.

It all started with a conversation. One person asking another how they might best increase someone else’s chances within the industry… One person asking another how that gift might help growth in the industry. It was that easy.

This isn’t a story that is specific only to motorsport, but is a story that should be as synonymous with engineering education as Beer is to beef pie and as engineer is to mastermind.

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