Words by Jo-Ann McEwan for In Venus Veritas
Images by Chris Corboy
Some people try really hard to be the centre of attention. Others can light up a room with ease. Kate Peck falls firmly in the latter camp, and not just because her glossy mane defies gravity and is (probably) visible in space. A bundle of energy and one delightfully funny individual, Kate is someone people gravitate towards. I’ve seen it happen; it’s amazing to watch.
She’s the only person I know who has competed in a Search for a Supermodel series. She’s also the only person I’d lend my Porsche to if I had one. Competitive while approachable; professional while self-deprecating; gorgeous as all heck, and as comfortable in combat boots as she is in sky high stilettos - she’s like a modern day Renaissance woman.
With interests in all facets of gasoline culture and a background in television presenting duties (she was previously a VJ on MTV) it’s no great surprise that Kate’s found a place in the motorsport media, reporting on events and interviewing racers, collectors, and big-wigs of the gasoline world on the regular, all the while harnessing her signature wit, style, and intelligence to bring a freshness to the industry.
She is no wallflower. Checking in with her across the course of a year, Kate’s as likely to be attending a red carpet event with a Hemsworth or driving a rally as she is taking a stand against poverty and violence or walking the Kokoda track for charity. Needless to say we were lucky to catch up with her (and her R nineT Spezial) when we did; results are in, check them out below.
Jo McEwan: I understand you have an unusual middle name. Were your parents setting you up for a life among fast machines, or is there another story here?
Kate Peck: I was named after Amelia Earhart who was an American aviation pioneer and author and the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. So I reckon adventure was always going to be on the cards.
JM: How did your career in motorsport start?
KP: I was introduced to motorcycles by my dad and step-mum who invited me to Africa for a two month motorcycle trip. From there I was an addict and continued to add fuel to the fire by scoring the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix ambassador role which kicked things off for my path into motorsport media.
JM: Is there anything you wish you were told about the industry before you began?
KP: The gigs are hard to come by.. but I already knew that. We have a small industry here, for me to land a job on TV doing what I love is a rare spot of luck.
JM: The Speed Handbook by Enda Duffy posits that even the first roller-coaster of 1886 “incited people to speed”. How do you feel about roller-coasters?
KP: I thoroughly enjoy a roller coaster but I prefer a race car ... they corner better.
JM: I noticed during the Targa Florio Australian Tribute last year that a lot of car enthusiasts (who know you from your television motorsport hosting duties) are unaware you’re also an avid rider. Do you consider yourself a car person or a bike person (or do you just cherry-pick whatever excites you in gasoline culture and run with it)? Side question, when will you be taking over the air and the seas??
KP: First and foremost a bike person. This is where it all started for me. These are my people! We bikers are a slightly different breed.
JM: One of your first big moto trips was riding across Africa with your family. How has that informed the way you plan your rides? Did anything scare you on that trip?
KP: I am unbelievably lucky to have the motorcycle adventuring parents that I do. They have an incredible wealth of weird and wonderful tips, tricks and experiences. There is nothing on a motorcycle adventure long haul trip that they haven’t thought of. Whether it’s photocopying and laminating your number plates in case they fall off while you are stuck in a Colombian jungle or flipping your knickers inside out to get more wears (the latter is a joke but I wouldn’t put it past them). Another good one is photocopy and laminate your passport too, then when authorities or accommodation or whoever want to see your passport you don’t have to hand your original over. NEVER hand over your passport in a third world country.
Planning rides is something that comes with experience. They have taught me to travel incredibly light, most riders end up way overloaded. You need to be extremely resourceful and respect the culture and driving culture in the countries you visit. Bondi riding will not cut it in Mexico city.
My Dad isn’t a mechanic but there’s not much on a bike he can’t fix.. so marry yourself a mechanic and you should be sweet for most big trips. He’s also an avid Japanese manufacturer fan. When travelling the parts are easy to find and the bike is easy to pull apart. When you get too techy, things do go wrong and they aren’t easy to fix in the middle of nowhere.
JM: As an ambassador for BMW and having the opportunity to pilot so many different vehicles through your work, are you allowed to have favourites? What has been your most enjoyable driving/riding experience to date?
KP: BMW offer a really vast number of rider experiences, from track days with California Super Bike school and my favourite which is the BMW off road training and their BMW Safaris. Sure they lend me a bike in trade for my work but above all else this is the brand I’ve looked up to ever since I learnt to ride. And of course ever since I saw Long Way Round!
They are the pinnacle in my eyes. There isn’t any other manufacturer that offers the range diversity and delivers at such a high standard. There is a real freedom in completely trusting the wheels you are on.. you can ride harder and faster and get more out of the experience.
The BMW Safari is by far a highlight – you gotta try it!
JM: What is your go-to riding gear at the moment?
KP: When I’m urban riding which is most of the time I wear Saint CC. It’s always been an epic struggle to find half decent moto gear for females. Gear without pink highlights or glitter or disgusting diamantes. It all screams TACKY. Or is extremely ill fitting.Safety is a big one for me, I’m always geared up regardless of where I go or what the weather is.Saint CC are one of the only brands that has managed to make some serious headway here combining safety and fashion. It’s gear which you want to wear on the bike AND off the bike.
JM: Has your approach to choosing gear changed much since you started riding?
KP: Yeah, I care more about how I look these days! I used to wear whatever as long as it kept me safe on the road. Now I don’t have to wear shit daggy fat man pants with a bland, crappy, ill-fitting jacket. To be honest I was a bit poor back then but when I started riding over 10 yrs ago brands that really nailed womens gear just did not exist, certainly not in Australia. Praise the lord for Saint CC!
JM: What are you most drawn to in a vehicle: form, power, ingenuity, ease of use, or a certain je ne sais quois?
KP: I want power, I want a head turner, and I want a bike and technology that I can trust.
JM: What vehicle (past/present/future) would you love to own and why?
KP: I wouldn’t mind trying out a Ural.. I’ve never driven anything with a side car.
JM: In your downtime, you’re a bit of a wine buff. Obviously alcohol and roadcraft shouldn’t mix, but you balance your enjoyment of both of these things. Is there a trick?
KP: Mucho agua!
I’ve completed several sommelier courses and I genuinely enjoy every single aspect of wine, from its time in soil to its time in my glass (which is never long).
Moto in the day, grape in the night.