Hi-Q Components NZ Formula First driver Amy Smith has put out a call for more women to get into motorsport stating “Being a female is not a disadvantage”.
Smith has been Formula First’s sole female driver for the past three seasons but struggles to understand why, when women have been so successful on the race track.
“I would love to see more girls racing in the class; Formula first is designed as an entry-level racing class, so it’s a good place to start racing.
“If you can race one of these cars, you can race anything. It will teach you all the skills you need. Being a female is not a disadvantage – you just need a certain amount of confidence.”
With the recent success of females in domestic categories, including NZ Touring Car ace Chelsea Herbert and Rally star Emma Gilmour, coupled with international stories such as Simona De Silvestro, ex-IndyCar and FIA Formula E superstar competing across the ditch in the Virgin Australia Australian Supercars series, there is no better time for women to get into the driver’s seat.
The Hi-Q Components NZ Formula First Championship are hosting a Have-A-Go Day on April the 30th at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park in Taupo. The event aims at getting aspiring drivers into actual Formula First race cars to sample motorsport and the class at a low cost.
“For any women that are interested in joining the class, I would definitely recommend coming along to the NZ Formula First have-a-go-day held at the end of April at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park in Taupo. You will get to actually jump into a race car, or just come along and have a talk to the people in the class.”
Smith credits the NZ Formula First Championship on its close and competitive racing while remaining both low cost and social – noting the many events undertaken by the class outside of the track such as Barbecues and Workshop tours that ensure everyone in the class has a chance to get to know one another
“Formula First is a great class; I have enjoyed the environment of the class on and off the track. With the cars all being very equal, it leaves a lot down to the ability of the drivers. It’s fast enough to be a real thrill reaching speeds of up to 200kph and a good class to learn all the skills required to race.
“It’s also fairly low budget, so one of the more affordable forms of racing. Our class is quite social, so there are opportunities outside the racetrack to get to know the other drivers.”
The encouragement that she has received from fellow competitors and the class management has made sure Amy has felt welcome and included in everything, in-turn giving her the best chance at competing at the pointy end of the field.
“It has been great! During the past 3 seasons in NZ Formula First, I have had plenty of encouragement from the management and the other drivers.
“Competitors will often shake hands and congratulate the other drivers for good racing and they treat me just the same. Everyone has been very supportive and I haven’t experienced anything negative. I always feel very welcome in the class.”
Smith acknowledges how motorsport allows both men and women to compete against each other while not breaking out into a separate battle of the sexes.
“When I started racing karts at six, I never thought it made a difference that I was a girl, I was just doing the same as the others on the track.
“I don’t feel there is a ‘battle of the sexes’. For me, I do not want to be passed by anybody, so I guess it’s the same for the boys.
“There is a certain amount of respect among all the drivers because we need to trust each other when racing wheel to wheel at fast speeds.
“Also, off track, I initially made the effort to approach and be sociable with them, so they treat me like I’m just one of ‘the guys’.”
The 2017 NZ Formula First Have-A-Go Day is coming up on the 30th of April at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park in Taupo and provides an opportunity to try out motorsport for a low cost. For just $99, you’ll be kitted out in the all the safety gear before jumping into an actual Formula First race car prepared by championship-winning team Sabre Motorsport. Lunch is provided and gives a chance to socialise with current drivers and share stories with others who have just completed the time of a life experience.
Sign up at www.formulafirst.co.nz/HaveAGo or call Ian Foster on 027 477 1092 for more info.