It was only four days ago that Anita Board unwrapped the gift she had been longing for.
The Perth girl had been eagerly awaiting her eighth birthday with greater excitement than most kids apply to the big day.
Coming from a keen drag racing family, Anita’s birthday was a milestone. Turning eight allowed her to qualify for a Junior Competition Licence so she could compete in the sport’s Junior Dragster Eliminator.
Instead of marking the start of her drag racing career, it led to her death.
Video from Anita’s birthday celebrations last week showed the little girl barely able to contain her excitement as she unwrapped her new, and very own, racing helmet. Symbolic and practical, it was supposed to signal the start of an exciting new chapter for the child, and family.
But in the first race she wore that helmet — a trial that should have qualified her to compete in the Australian National Drag Racing Association’s (ANDRA) junior competition — Anita died.
Saturday’s trial run at Perth Motorplex ended in tragedy when Anita’s 210CC dragster — stamped “Pony Power” and illustrated with hot pink and purple flames — crashed into a concrete barrier as shocked bystanders looked on.
She was removed from the smashed up vehicle and resuscitated, taken to Princess Margaret Hospital for Children in a critical condition. On Sunday afternoon she died in hospital with her family at her bedside.