Female role model Maria Costello has spoken of the moment she met Prince Charles to receive her MBE.
The biker, who was the first woman rider to claim a podium finish at a race around the Isle of Man TT course and held the female lap-speed record for five years, received her honour from the heir to the throne at a special day at Buckingham Palace.
Costello, honoured for her services to motorcycling and female sport in general, shared a joke with the Prince as he handed over her award. She told him how she had been forced to abandon her car and resort to her favourite mode of transport in the rush to get to the palace on time after getting stuck in traffic. "He asked me if I'd arrived by motorcycle and I told him about the
drama-filled journey and he laughed," she said. "I had called my friend who works for Virgin limo bikes and he came to my rescue. Despite being in a short dress I jumped on the Yamaha and we sped off, thankfully I had an apron over me to protect my modesty," she added.
Costello said she began racing thanks to compensation money she received after being in a motorbike accident. "It was a mode of transport. I actually got knocked off my motorbike on my way to work, broke some bones and with the compensation cheque bought my first race bike."
Costello returned to Spratton, Northamptonshire, with her proud family and is now looking forward to an action-packed 2010 season consisting of real road racing, short circuit meetings and some classic events.