Gail Hill isn’t going to let a little thing like turning fifty keep her out of a race car.
She believes in herself and her abilities, and thinks that women bring a unique bent to auto racing; because their driving abilities are so different from men.
“You just have to believe in yourself and remember it's never too late,” says Hill. “I have been racing for 7 years but now I'm nearly 50 and still think I can give the younger chaps a run for their money!”
When did you know you wanted to go racing?
I originally got into racing indirectly due to joy riders in a stolen car who hit my car (whilst I was driving). They wrote it off and with the insurance money I bought an old Jaguar XJ-S. It turned out to be a rust box but then I joined the Jaguar Enthusiasts Club learned more about Jaguars and bought another one. This time a 5.3 litre V12 XJ-S. I took it to a track day (I'd never been to race circuit in my life before) and had a whale of a time. Various dishy looking racers took me out (on track) and said I was quite good and ought to have a go at racing. Consequently, I asked the chap who I bought my car from and he leased me a car for two years to help advertise his business. It was only after I started to get really quick, and asked him to start improving and modifying the car that he said he would after I bought the car....I did and that's when I became a pauper!
What are you racing this year?
This year I have just had a 5.8 litre V12 rebuilt following a big crash in 2005. I have sold off my other two race cars (both Jaguars) and intend to compete in this car. It might not be the quickest car in the field as it needs a bit development work (but I need a lottery win or something) but it should be the best looking and prepared car on track. I hope to race in the main Jaguar XJ-S championship and would hope to win a couple of races (with a bit of luck) but certainly be in the top three.
What would you be doing if you weren’t racing?
I honestly don't know what I would do now if I couldn't race. It truly has me addicted and I think racing racing beats everything (and I mean everything!). I suppose if couldn't or if the money ran out I would try and do a cheaper form of motorsport (maybe club karting, but you really need to be 13 and weigh nothing to do that....I'm neither!). I also play squash and tennis so I suppose I would join a club and try and improve my racquet sports.
Where can we see you race this season?
I have tried to get into a variety of 'pro' or semi pro series. I have been offered drives in British GT (in a dodge Viper) and in the Seat Cupra Championship (which is part of British Touring Cars). The trouble is it requires big money and whilst I am one of the top females racers in the UK. I am not brilliant and getting money out of big business. It is frustrating because I write for a National magazine (Jaguar World Monthly and do talks and presentations) but it really is about whom you know and I don’t know enough rich people. But as long as I am still racing I will keep plugging away. If the chance came up to race anywhere I’d grab it like I was going to die tomorrow.
Any goals for this season?
This year I hope to develop the car through the season (first test all being well is in two weeks) get a few wins under my belt and hopefully with a bit of luck and following wind make a serious challenge for the class title and hopefully be with a shout for the championship.
I won the title in 2006 and was a class winner the year before but winning the title was the best feeling as it came exactly one year after what could have been a fatal crash (not my fault) at Brands where my car got written off whilst I led the championship. That year all I could manage was a class win but the overall win one year later was great. It also meant I picked up a host of awards with the British Women Racing Drivers Club of which I am a member (and now Racing secretary).
The best to start is to go to race circuits and watch some club racing, meet the drivers and chat with them. There are almost certainly going to be a few lady racers amongst the racers present and so chat to them. It does not have to be expensive to get into motor sport. Other cheaper disciplines are hill climbs or sprints as well a karting. Many race series use virtually standard road cars with minimal modifications so it is relatively easy to get a car, go to a few track days, get a bit of tuition and then get a license. The BWRDC also have many associate members who can get advice from experienced racers too.
by Linda Przygodski