top of page

Formula Woman - November.

Update: 6 November

My 912 is still in Retford with Rennspeed although I understand that both ball joints have been replaced by Ben; my garden still needs my attention; and I have a mighty lot of ivy to remove from my never stops.

But in the meantime, apart from removing bin loads of old ivy, I have also managed a day at i-Zone (see my i-Zone blog post) and a day having a wander around Motorsport Days Live at Silverstone. I visited in 2019 when I was helping Racing Pride at its stand, but this year I was just a visitor - but what a difference a couple of years make, fewer stands and less people walking about. That could be because it was a Friday, but it meant that it was easy to go and chat with people.

I spent some time with the British Motorsport Marshals Club and with Motorsport UK, discussing motorsport with regard to their policies. I also had a wander around the pits and garage areas for a bit of a nosy around, but did manage to have a look at Charlie Martin's Praga and have a chat with her partner Jack Faby on the stand. Unfortunately Charlie was not at Silverstone, but in London.

I am now getting ready for my assessment sessions at Bedford Autodrome on 15 November with around 30 other Formula Woman contenders. We'll all be driving around one of the, as yet undisclosed, tracks in the Vauxhall Corsa-e, as well as submitting ourselves to some form of fitness test and mdia attention - likely to be TV style interviews as well as being followed around by TV crews. There is a karting component as well, but some controversy, as Anglesey had no karts available so it may be we just do a drive for fun! Karting I'm not looking foward to, but the media and driving will be fun.

The end is in sight as judging for the final 60 or 70 will take place after all the assessments have been completed and a decision as to who goes through will be announced in December - all ready to start anew in 2022.

Update: 14 November

One step nearer to the Bedford Autodrome assessments...Today, I watched the Cenotaph Parade and remembered both times I stood in front of my flight of RAuxAF airmen as thousands of veterans marched proudly past whilst, I admit, tears trickled down my cheeks. Very emotional. It gave me the chance to think of those friends who were killed during their service, some in aircraft accidents and some from other causes. This year I was especially proud to see that 'Fighting with Pride', a new charity supporting veterans who had to leave the services owing to their sexual identities and who have now been recognized for the service they carried out and have now been given back the medals they gained, marching alongside their service colleagues..

And then it was time to load up Poppy and drive down to Sharnbrook Hotel prior to my assessment at Bedford Autodrome tomorrow. The hotel is currently populated by aspiring Formula Woman contenders all excitedly preparing for tomorrow - and I am now about to join some of them in - where else - the bar.

Update: 17 November

After Monday's exertions and yesterday's 130 mile drive in a 55 year old car, I am beginning to return to normal - although ny inner thighs may take a bit longer!

The morning started off very misty, but this had cleared before I set off for the Autodrome - a bit later than I'd planned as the hotel manager had parked his Track Day Porsche Cayman GTS beside my classic Porsche 912 - and then introduced himself, so we had to talk competiton Porsches....

With around 50 other aspiring female racing drivers, I signed on at the Bedford Autodrome and received a green sticker for my ID card, a blue wrist band and a black rubberised wrist band, all designed to keep an eye on me and my whereabouts. Once all participants had been duly 'banded' we were all briefed on what to expect and how the day would progress from one activity to the next. We'd been divided into five groups and as there would be five separate activities we would all go round them in a well organized rota. After the brief we were joined by the morning groups for a hot lunch with some anticipation over the afternoon's activities. During lunch, the nutritionist advisor and mental strength advisor gave us their presentations and advice on how to apply diet and brain power in motor racing.

My group were due to drive the Corsa-e round the track first, but as there were fewer cars than drivers, we split up into two groups - one drove whilst those not driving were presented with a 'technical task' to fill in the spare time. Then it was our turn, resplendent in Formula Woman overalls - and my helmet with Cat Lund's decal applied for sponsorship arrangements.

The first lap was under the supervision of an instructor who explained the racing lines and where to brake and turn in - and then we returned to the pits so we could swap seats. As I was getting in to the car, I was photographed by the TV media crew who then followed my drive onto the track. The aim was not necessarily to go as fast as possible, but more to show the instructor that one could follow instructions and drive the car safely and, I presume, competently round the track. We were allowed two laps - definitely not enough for me as I was beginning to enjoy this wholly automatic electric-engined Vauxhall, when I was instructed to return to the pits. (But I did manage to overtake one of the cars on the track!) As I got out of the car, I was taken to one side by the TV crew who then interviewed me at length for the TV channel / programme which is following the progress of Formula Woman. That I really enjoyed.

The next activity was purely for fun driving a 390cc kart round the designated Kart Track - an activity I missed out on owing to the osteoarthritis of my knee and the physio's advice to stay away from the was fun watching the others driving flat out as we'd been told that the kart experience was to show aggression..!

And then to the activity which had been concerning me a little - the fitness test which I knew was not going to be my strong point even though I felt reasonably fit after my regular three mile walks and some rowing and exercise routines at home. Arriving at the fitness venue inside what seemed to be an aircraft hangar we were presented with a number of different floor activities facing us, including: a rowing machine; crunches; planks; press ups; burpees; running on the spot; lifting a heavy ball above the head and slamming it into the floor; and what I now understand to be 'battle ropes'. These certainly looked daunting, but I decided I'd just have to do the best I could and try to stay doing the exercise for the full 60 seconds...and, apart from one exercise which I had to decline, I surprised myself by staying on target on all the exercises. That was a good personal result.

The next two activities consisted of a written test on motorsport knowledge with one or two rather ambiguous questions and some very straightforward ones where artistic talent would have been useful. And then the last of the activities - a short media interview, one at a time.

We all queued up outside the studio looking more like a dentist's waiting room, waiting for our slot with the interviewer and cameraman. That was a fun way to end the day.

After all the interviews were complete we were back on the bus heading for the pits where a number of PR photos were taken under the direction of our 'tame' PR lady, Nikki, and her team of photographers - and the drone operator! By now twilight had appeared - and the drop in the temperature was palpable whilst we waited for a number of takes and photos.

But then it was back onto the bus and back to the dining area for the final debrief on the day's activities and the usual Question and Answer session. As it stands, the next phase will start in mid-January after the team has decided which 60 or 70 of the participants have been successful enough to get to Phase 2 - decisions and notifications in mid- December. Christmas present time? And then we all departed to homes and hotels, in the dark.

The day was concentrated and very 'full on', but most enjoyable. I suspect that many of us there on Monday afternoon also discovered more about ourselves and what we are capable of when we are pushed. I know I certainly did - roll on Phase 2!


The story so far:

Last year I applied to become a Formula Woman - a competition to find a totally novice lady driver who would learn to drive a very fast car in the 2022 British GT series.

So where do I fit in ?

I'm concentrating on two themes: the WI promotion of 'Empowering Women' using my membership and contacts within the local WI membership and organisation; and as a member of 'Racing Pride' and Motorsport UK's LGBTQ+ sub-committee, highlight the latter's policy to attract LGBTQ+ people into all disciplines of motorsport.

bottom of page