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Anna Walewska is Making a Name in Racing

Published Apr 6th 2008, 9:48pm by Jody DeVere in Featured Articles

Annaw Anna Walewska may not be a name racing fans in the U.S. are familiar with, but the 20-year-old standout is hoping to change that.

In 2007, Walewska raced in the Britcar championship driving for BMW. She finished third in that series. This season she will once again race in the Britcar series, driving for Geoff Steel Racing in a BMW M3 3.2ltr 360bhp.

Walewska’s racing skills started in the typical fashion. She began racing in go-karts at an early age, and moved into the saloon car series, T-Cars, at 14. From T-Cars, she moved up to Britcar, where she claimed numerous podium finishes.

In 2006, Walewska entered the prestigious 24-hour race at Silverstone, where she earned the pole. For her car racing achievements in 2005, she was awarded the 2005 Driver of the Year Trophy.
Anna competed in the NKRA (National Kart Racing Association) Championship along side her Britcar racing. She had two fastest laps, four wins, driver of the day and numerous podium finishes and was nominated for 2006 Lady Driver of the Year.

Anna is qualified as an Advanced Fitness Instructor which helps her keep at the optimal level of fitness for her sport. She is a top Racing Instructor at Thruxton and Brands Hatch, and also works for manufacturers like BMW on corporate days.

How did you first get into racing?
I started in karts at 100-years-old and moved to car racing at just 14-years-old, racing in T-Cars. I then moved to single seaters Formula Renault for a year and now race a BMW in Britcar.

My father introduced me to karting, he is a car enthusiast and use to race himself. I have always been interested in cars, push cars and scalextric were my toys as a child, and dolls got pushed to one side! I have been brought up around racing, my father always had sports cars and I would spend all my spare time tinkering about with engines in
our garage.

My first race was in karts, I took to it like a duck to water and have never looked back since. I have always been very competitive and crave speed, racing ticks all those boxes for me.

What is your greatest accomplishment in racing so far?
I broke the record of becoming the 'youngest racing driver to hold a full car racing license’ at 14. Also, I won at Snetterton in Britcar driving the BMW. I lost second and fifth gear whilst in second place, I had to pit and lost a lot of places. There was nothing the team could do, I could have just retired, but I decided to rejoin with only three gears. I was so hungry for the win, knowing the car had the pace. I drove hard, taking the car back up to the lead and took the win on the last lap. This is a race my team and I will never forget.

What are your plans for 2008?
I am racing in Britcar driving for Geoff Steel Racing in a BMW M3 3.2ltr 360bhp. I finished third in the championship last year, so I have to win it this year. I am working on sponsorship to race a Dodge Viper in British GTs, as I was offered the drive last year. I am a fully qualified ARDS racing instructor. working for Thruxton and manufacturers. This year, I have set up a driver development track day business giving tuition in a Lotus Elise. This is open to anyone, racing drivers or not, who want to have taste of what driving on a track is really like and improve their skills.

I am also training a racing driver, Zoe Wenham, who has been karting for many years and is now stepping up to car racing. I will be working with her throughout the year, so she can make the transition from karts to cars as easily as possible.

What is your ultimate goal in racing?
To be winning in whatever I am racing, and have a long successful career as a racing driver. My ambition is to race in WTCC (World Touring Cars) as a works driver, and I would also like to race at Le Mans.

Is it hard to balance a busy racing schedule with a personal life?
It can be difficult, but I am lucky to be surrounded by people who believe in what I am doing, and have great patience and understanding that my racing always comes first. It does take up a lot of my time, I am at the gym five times a week to keep my fitness to its optimum level, I never stop working on sponsorship and keep in touch with the media 24/7. It's all part of being a successful racer; I have to work just as hard if not harder off track as I do on! My friends and family are very supportive; if my social life has to go on hold for a while they understand – phew!

Do you think there are as many opportunities in racing for women as there are for men?
Yes, I do. Motorsports is heavily dominated by men; which perhaps seems intimidating to women who want to start out in the sport. There are only a handful of women who compete in motorsports but the opportunities are endless if you are a quick, female driver finishing at the front. Motorsports is one of the few sports where women can compete against men. There are always a few sexist men who don't believe a woman should be competing in the sport, and if they are then they won't be quick, but you get that in any sport. I've never felt different from the 30 odd male drivers I race against on the grid, once my helmet goes on I am a competitor -- male or female -- it doesn't matter. I just want to win.

The marketing opportunities for a quick female in motorsports are endless, my sponsors enjoy the exposure from the racing itself, TV coverage, and all the press -- but also get the added exposure from backing the only female on the grid. The media attention I get can be overwhelming especially when I'm finishing at the front and my sponsors love it. Motorsports is as much a business as it is a sport, and having a unique selling point helps finding sponsorship.

Have you ever thought about racing in any of the series in the US (NASCAR, ARCA, IRL, etc)?
I have considered racing in NASCAR in the U.S., and if the opportunity comes up I will grab it. I would like to make my name in the U.K. first, and then look at moving to the U.S. if that is the best career move me at the time.

What are your goals for this season?
My goal is to win the PS1 (Britcar) championship, and find the funding to compete in British GTs next year. I would also like my track day business to expand and work with more up-and-coming racing drivers. That's enough to keep me busy!

Lotus Experience Track Days

Lindapic_noman2 by Linda Przygodski
Contributing Editor

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