Job Title: Racing Driver
What first attracted you to motorsport?
The thing that first attracted me to motorsport is the fact that racing itself does not discriminate. I am an adrenaline junkie by nature but being a wheelchair user limits my access to such sports and activities. I love the freedom racing gives me. I leave my wheelchair in the pits and when I’m on that race circuit, I’m not a female driver, I’m not a disabled driver, I am simply a racing driver. Skill and bravery is all that affects where you finish in a race, gender and physical function are completely irrelevant.
What qualifications did you need to get to there?
For anyone to become a racing driver you need to pass your ARDS test. This consists of a practical driving test on a circuit and a written test to demonstrate you know the safety procedures. For disabled drivers you also have to complete four hill climbs or sprint events to show that you are safe in a competitive environment on your adaptations (in my case, hand controls). Disabled drivers also have to demonstrate that you can exit a race car from a race position unaided in seven seconds. Once I’d passed all of these tests, my race license was rubber stamped and I was ready to go racing!
What, if any, challenges did you face? And how did you overcome them?
One of the main challenges for me was making sure I had enough experience through track days and race tuition to prepare me for taking my ARDS test. I really wanted to make sure I was confident and good enough to do well in my ARDS so that I would be in the best possible shape to go racing.
I also needed to make sure that I had the adaptations I needed on my car that suited my disability and would allow me to be competitive. That’s the great thing about racing; technology allows able and disabled drivers to compete on a level playing field against each other. Fortunately, I had a great mechanic who completely understood what I needed. But it took me a while to find him! I didn’t make great choices with my first race team I signed up with but speaking to people within the motorsport industry and getting advice from people I trusted helped me to leave my first race team and find a great team that were perfect to build my car and take me into my debut season.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I’m a big believer in ‘no regrets’ but when I was younger I used to be petrified of failure. Sometimes I would sabotage my own projects because I feared that if I gave something my everything and it still wasn’t good enough that I wouldn’t be able to cope with the disappointment. But through various sports I participated in leading up to my motorsport career I learned that failure wasn’t such a bad thing. I came to understand that failure was just a stepping stone on the path to success and the more you fall down, the more you learn how to get back up bigger, better and stronger for the next time.
What is your dream car?
I absolutely love Porsches! Cut me open and I probably have Porsche written down the centre of me! So my dream car has a to be a Porsche 356, the first ever production car they built. To be honest, any 356 would do but a Silver 356 Speedster with leather boot catches would be my ultimate car. I’d just have to get my mechanic to figure out some kind of hand controls that would let me to operate the brake, throttle, clutch, gear stick and steering wheel all at the same time! I might just have a grow another arm.