Toni on the track
I often hear “girls can’t drive” or “girls can’t race”. Well, I’m one girl that has put that stereotype to the test (and to rest too). Since I turned 16 I have successfully completed ten different racing school classes, driving a variety of high performance sports cars and track cars.
Yes, not many women do go racing. From my very first school to the most recent one I have been amazed at how few girls (or women) there are experiencing the thrill of racing. I am usually just one of two females in the class, or sometimes the only one attending. However, just because most girls don’t race, doesn’t mean we can’t.
Each school is different in the types of cars that are used, the instructors, types of drills, or the way each activity is taught. No matter the specific skill being taught the main objective is always to learn how to safely drive at those speeds and how to avoid accidents when on the track.
Normally, every time you come to a new school or take a new class at the same racing school each person gives their background and tells of their experience with driving. When my turn comes to speak I usually get the ‘I didn’t expect that ’ look when I tell the group and instructors how many schools I have attended with my dad. More often than not, though, when they do hear about it, I think an expectation of speed comes along with my experience.
Still, I am not usually the fastest one out there unless there are a lot of novices in the class, young people never before behind the wheel of a race car or a sports car at speed. I do not push past my limit of where I am comfortable but as I gain experience I have come to a point where I can be at higher speeds and be comfortable. If I feel that I am losing control of the car I slow down.
Something that happened at one school in particular that I attended with my dad is a perfect example of why I drive for myself and not to show off. There was a young man who wanted to compete with my dad. Keep in mind that my dad has been around fast cars his whole life, has completed way more racing schools than I have and he also used to time trial competitively.
My love of cars didn’t just start with my dad, my grandpa, a well known Hollywood/advertising photographer, was a speed demon himself. He was known (according to my dad) to race around Mulholland and had a collection of some of the worlds most beautiful sports cars.
So my dad is fast. So fast that I just try to follow his line, but keeping up seems impossible at times. Now this young man with even less experience than me was so intent on beating my dad that he eventually spun out into the dirt and badly bent a rim and completely broke the suspension, causing over $7,000 in damage. This was not his own car either, it was the school’s car and the young man had to pay to fix the damage.
My steady and safe pace has worked for me so far and I’m now comfortable at triple digit speeds on the back (or front) straight of many tracks. I even got air racing through several S turns. So the next time you or someone you know says girls can’t drive, think about me coming over the crest of the hill at Laguna Seca and nailing the line on the corkscrew. Please remember though: I don’t just drive fast, I drive safe.