Racing Star Alice.

April 23rd, 2010

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alicepowell_jalden017Like most 17-year-olds, Alice Powell holds a provisional driving licence and is looking forward to taking her driving test. But when she’s behind the wheel of a racing car, there’s not an ‘L’ plate in sight.

Last year sponsors invested 250K into her Formula Renault racing team because they, like many others, believe Alice could be the first British woman to make the grade as an FI driver.  These are exciting times for Alice and, as the new season revs up, Adrenamag grabbed her for a question time pit stop.

How did you get into motor racing? As a family we used to watch the motorsport. My granddad Jim Fraser, who’s in his 60s now, was very keen and he’s always really encouraged me. I started racing karts at eight-and-half at a track outside Oxford, from there I moved to Ginettas, and then to junior saloon cars.

When did you decide you wanted to be a racing driver? I really enjoyed karting and just wanted to progress. I went from indoor to outdoor karting. First it was a hobby and it gradually moved into a career.

What are you most proud of? It was winning the ‘Chase the Champ’ charity karting event in 2005. I was only 13 and beat a number of adult professional drivers including former Formula Renault UK front-runner, McLaren Autosport BRDC award winner Jamie Green

What are your experiences being a women in a largely male sport? When I was younger I was more aware of being the ‘only girl’, but now I just get on with it. When I am at the track I am there to race.

Who are your role models? I am a big fan of Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton. But there’s no female role model in racing. I would like to be like Ellen MacArthur who has been a role model for women in her sport.

What advantages or disadvantages are there to being a woman? In publicity terms it is definitely an advantage as a woman – as it is a point of difference. I have been on the BBC’s Inside Out programme, Radio 1, BBC news and Channel 5 and I am not sure I would have got that kind of publicity as a man.

What type of driver are you? Like most drivers, I like the speed and working with the team. I enjoy really pushing the cars. Sometimes I can focus too much on all the information you get as a driver.

Have you found it difficult for men to take you seriously? No, not really.

What are you ambitions for the next few years? It is to get into Formula 1, and at the same time, be the first successful female driver.

alicepowell_jalden019What tips would you give young girls who want to be a racing driver? You need to really focus on your goal and not be distracted. Don’t get frustrated about the lack of girls in the sport. Be determined and confident.

How does karting prepare you for motor racing? Karting prepares you really well for racing driving. It gives you close racing experience, know-how of over-taking, under steer and over steer – all the basics of racing.

How do you fit your schoolwork in with being a racing driver? I am currently studying for three AS levels – psychology, business studies and applied sciences. The racing season is between April and October, so the school summer holidays are in the middle of the season. But my school -The Cotswold School – is very supportive.

What’s a typical race like? We travel all over the UK. We will set off on Thursday night, test on a Friday; qualifying is on a Saturday, and like F1 the actual racing is on the Sunday.

What do your school friends say? They don’t understand racing, but they are really supportive.

What’s the toughest thing about the sport? There’s a high level of competition, and it takes a lot of money. Some racers are funded by their parents’ business, but I need sponsors. This racing year will cost about 160k.

Have you ever had an accident? I rolled a car once in Ginetta. My mum gets cold feet when I am racing. She just hopes I come through okay.

If you want to follow Alice’s progress, check out her web site.

And, if you’re inspired by Alice’s exploits and want to get out on the karting track, click here

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