My first two interviews with women in automotive are with bloggers. This one is with a racing driver! I love the versatility of this project and I hope in the future to bring in front of you answers from women that do all kind of cool stuff in this huge and beautiful industry.
What should we absolutely know about Nicole?
I’m 24 years old, I’ve graduated from the University of Limerick and now work as a trainee accountant during the week. At the weekends if I’m not racing, I tend to road trip and try to take the dogs with me for an adventure.
Why race driving? Tell us your story.
I grew up around cars, my dad has a car business in Tipperary and my grandad was a mechanic. My dad rallied when I was a kid, so I used to spend my weekends following him around the country to watch and of course, be part of the team of mechanics who checked over the car in between stages. I was also always in my dad’s garage or in my granddads garden trying to convince him to let me drive around the house. It was always a dream to be a driver. As soon as I was old enough to have a part-time job I saved and saved until I had enough to buy my own racing car, which was a really cool memory for me.
What do you feel when you’re behind the wheel during a race?
When I’m climbing into the car I always feel nervous, but also excited about the race. As soon as the lights go out at the start line and it’s time to go everything I was thinking about beforehand is gone and I’m completely in the moment. It’s a huge adrenaline buzz.
What’s the maximum speed you reached during a race?
In my current Stryker racecar, probably around 200km/h but during a Porsche GT3 test, I reached 260km/h!
Share with us a funny story from behind the wheel.
When I was 14/15 I used to drive around my grandparents’ house, I decided one day I’d show my friend how to drive and, it didn’t exactly go to plan! When we got to the top of the garden I instructed her to press the brakes and she mistakenly hit the accelerator instead and we went through a bathtub full of flowers belonging to my granny! Scary at the time, but a hilarious story now. She hasn’t set foot in a Punto since!
Which are your plans, where can we see you in the next period?
I will continue to race in Ireland and hopefully also some endurance racing in the UK. I competed in a 4hr Endurance race this year at Snetterton in a Citroen C1 with a 54 car grid and absolutely loved it, so I’d like to compete in more of those if the opportunity arose.
Your piece of advice: why should women race drive?
I think women should give it a go, even if it’s to try something new, racing isn’t just for the boys!! If you like an adrenaline buzz, racing is definitely something to try out!
Which are your top 3 favorite cars (all time)? And why?
Porsche GT3, because I drove one at Paul Ricard, and the speed was like nothing I’d ever driven before!
Citroen C4 WRC. In 2007 I went to my first WRC event (Word rally championship) and for me at the time, it was like competing at the event. I’ll never forget standing in a forest, absolutely soaked and hearing Sebastien Loeb coming through the stage in his Citroen C4. It was spine tingling at the time…
My Nissan Juke – I am a Generation Next Brand Ambassador for Nissan and they supplied me with a Juke loaded with accessories. It’s my first ever new car and is the perfect machine for a road trip. There is loads of room for all my racing gear and even the dogs- and as we say in Ireland, it runs on the sniff of diesel!
Name three cars that you think are suitable for women. (please also tell us why)
I don’t think there are any specific cars suitable for women.
What shouldn’t miss from a woman’s car?
A coffee cup holder and a Bluetooth radio for music so we can not only sing but perform while driving in the car!
Do you think there is misogyny in traffic?
I think there is in motorsport- is a male-dominated sport, but it’s slowly starting to change for the better in recent times. Organisations like D2BD (dare to be different) are spreading more awareness about women in motorsport and trying to show young girls that motorsport isn’t just for boys. More awareness and more ladies involved in the sport will help this going forward. Similarly, life has changed and I don’t think there is misogyny in traffic to the extent that there used to be!
What would you tell to a woman that is afraid to drive?
If you have a fear, I think a private driving school is the best way to give it a shot. No traffic and no pressure. You don’t even need a driving license, it’s the perfect way to get some practice in and build your confidence behind the wheel.
What would you choose behind the wheel, high heels or flat shoes?
I tried to drive in heels once, never again!!! Flat shoes FTW!
Please spread some inspiration for lady drivers all over the world:)
If you’re into cars or up for trying something new, go for it! Karting is the perfect way to get started into motorsport, even if you try rental karts at your local track, it’s the best way to see if you like driving before you decide to fully commit to a racing season. The motorsport community is huge and there will always be someone willing to help.
Find and follow Nicole on social media!