Catriona Rowntree is set for the Mazda3 celebrity challenge.
Catriona Rowntree is set for the Mazda3 celebrity challenge.

Now Catriona Rowntree will really travel in celebrity race

MOST days for Catriona Rowntree involve travel, looking after her two boys, spending time on the farm in rural Victoria, or writing.

But this weekend she has high octane fuel in her veins.

One of 20 celebrities taking part in the Mazda3 Celebrity Challenge at the Australian Grand Prix, the television star was between practice sessions at Albert Park when we talked to her about her motoring past and present.

What was your first car?

A Mini Leyland. I began work in Sydney and I wanted a big FJ Holden, but my father said, "You are never going to be able to park it. Start small."

My father has bred in me a passion for cars with character. He suggested a Fiat or a Mini, so for $2000 I bought my first Mini and the love affair began.

Once you start driving a Mini, for most the goal is then the Cooper S.

My second car, I fully restored a beautiful red 1967 Cooper S Mini. And now I am restoring an S-Type Jaguar.

What are you driving now?

I still have the Mini, and when you are in the city it is the most magnificent car. When we restored it we put together all of the original elements, and I had to be very specific to make sure that everything from the bullet side mirrors to the paint job was in original form.

Since marrying a farmer, I split my time between Sydney and the farm. I have a Holden Captiva, which is not only the perfect mum's car but also can easily round up sheep at a moment's notice.

What cars did your family have while growing up?

My father always had a passion for Jaguars. That has been our badge of honour. One that stands out is the 420G, which was the governor-general's car.

Having four children, my dad would always have Ford station wagons. My sister and I were always the ones on the flip-up back seats and we'd always wave at traffic.

I have such a love for the station wagon because it took us on so many trips through school holidays.

Every car we had a name for, and now my Mini's called Purdy after the Avengers.

What is your greatest frustration on the road?

Young people driving way too fast. I think even if I didn't have children, it would still terrify me. I think there is a lack of respect and so much aggression.

Do you have any preferred driving music?

I like it loud and proud. If you got in my car today it would be 24-7 nursery rhymes with two toddlers. However, I'm a bit of a country fan - anything from Keith (Urban) to Dolly (Parton).

If you were to pick anyone in the world to go on a road trip, who would it be?

It would have to be Oprah Winfrey. I would ask her everything from advice, tips to gossip. I think we could fill the time productively.

What is your dream car?

Navy blue E-Type Jaguar. It's a little bit challenging to have a car like that on dirt roads, but never say never.

Vital statistics

Who: Catriona Rowntree.

Born: July 19, 1971.

Resume: She started working as a researcher for Channel Nine in 1992, progressed to feature as a presenter for children's program What's Up Doc and then shot to stardom on travel show Getaway. She is still a travel presenter, but is now also a baby clothes designer and author.

See her: In this weekend's Mazda3 Celebrity Challenge at the Australian Grand Prix, racing Lauren Phillips, Rob Mills, Charley Boorman, Tim Robards, Torah Bright, Robbie McEwen, Megan Washington, Clint Stanaway, Nathan Brown, Brett Emerton, Tommy Little, Scherri-Lee Biggs, Sam Mac, Dave Thornton, Rachael Finch, Adam D'Sylva and Lydia Lassila.

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