Women in motorsports are accomplishing a lot, like racing against adults before they’re even teenagers and topping the charts in test sessions in series on the Formula One development ladder. Here are some more of the incredible things women in racing are up to lately.
Other than a few big names, women in motorsports often don’t get as much widespread, regular media coverage as they deserve. We hope this series of posts helps change that, even just a little.
The Girl Who Races Against People Decades Older Than She Is
Juju Noda isn’t even a teenager yet, and she looks absolutely miniature next to the race cars she competes in. That’s probably because adults compete in those cars, too, and she does a good job of it.
Noda recently got profiled by Great Big Story when she drove a Formula 3 car for the first time, which is a huge step up from the Formula 4 cars she’s used to in power and downforce. She’s great at the F4 cars, too—a story on Noda from the FIA, an international motorsport governing body that oversees series like Formula One, said she smashed a lap record for F4 drivers under 17 years old at Okayama International Circuit by more than a second. She also became the only elementary-school kid to drive an F4 car at race pace at 10 years old.
Noda’s father, Hideki Noda, is a professional driver who, according to Racing Reference, has competed in three F1 grands prix and six IndyCar races. Juju Noda wants to become an F1 champion, and her father told Great Big Story that he supports her in anything she wants to do.
Britain’s First-Ever Closed-Roads Rally Will Have A Father-Daughter Rivalry
In the first race since new legislation that allows closed-road motorsport in England, according to Essex Live, rally driver Nabila Tejpar will race against the person who introduced her to the sport in the first place: her dad.
Tejpar got her first rally car at 15 years old and knew what it was what she wanted to do, but didn’t start competing until after she got her degree in 2014. She won the British Rally Championship’s women’s title not long after in 2017.
Now, she and her father will race each other in the five-stage Corbeau Seats Rally on Sunday, which is the first time they’ve raced each other in the same category. British newspaper the East Anglian Daily Times wrote about the family rivalry before the race:
To mark the occasion, the 24-year-old from Maldon is giving herself an additional challenge – and aims to beat her rally driver dad Aziz Tejpar at the sport he introduced her a few years ago.
“It’s amazing to think that we will be rallying a few miles away from home and to compete against Dad is actually a real challenge,” said Miss Tejpar. “I’m the third generation of rally drivers in the family.
“My grandad used to rally in Africa and so he passed on his knowledge to my dad who handed it down to me – so now the pressure is on to try and beat him in pretty much our back yard.”
Tejpar told the East Anglian Daily Times her dad “is still pretty handy behind the wheel,” but said not to tell him she said that. He’ll think she’s worried about the competition if he hears that, Tejpar said.
The All-Women Team Competing In This Weekend’s Baja SAE Competition
While Formula SAE gets a lot of the attention among collegiate engineering competitions, Baja SAE is a thing, too. It’s where engineering students make an off-road vehicle good enough to survive different terrain, meant to test their abilities to make a recreational off-road vehicle for the market.
The Daytona Beach News-Journal interviewed a Baja SAE team that’s different than most of the other 100 or so teams competing this weekend, in that they’re all women. The nine-member team from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University will be in Maryland this weekend with the baja car they created, which will go over jumps, sand pits and ditches as part of the competition.
Here’s more about the team, from the News-Journal:
“Right off the bat and when we pull in with our truck and trailer … and when they see just a whole bunch of girls, sometimes we immediately get underestimated,” ERAU mechanical engineering senior and team president Alex Mehringer said. […]
Team members do a little bit of everything including welding, machining, assembling parts and testing their creation.
“I really like learning how to take a design … and making it real,” said Alex Marcarelli, an ERAU senior studying mechanical engineering. “They teach you everything when you learn to be an engineer except how to actually build it, which is something I’ve noticed a lot of people don’t think about.” […]
“You spend all year building and working together, but when you get to competition things are going to fail, things are going to go wrong, nothing’s going to go perfectly,” Marcarelli said. “It’s really cool to see a bunch of people work together with limited resources, limited time, and see what you can pull off.”
Mehringer told the News-Journal that while it’s nice to go out and buy your own off-road vehicle to have fun in, “you have a bit more sense of pride when you build it yourself.” That’s a pretty useful talent to have.
Tatiana Calderon Finishes GP3 Series Preseason Testing In Second
Sauber F1 test driver Tatiana Calderon finished up preseason testing for the GP3 Series, a series on the F1 development ladder, earlier this week. She finished the last two sessions in seventh and second position, and she seems to feel good overall about testing so far.
Calderon told Spanish newspaperMarca she’s felt competitive at every track she’s tested at in the preseason, and that she’s “very comfortable with the car and the team.” The GP3 Series starts in Barcelona next month, and Calderon will run the season while also working with Sauber. In her testing role at Sauber, Calderon will train on simulators and in race cars on some weekends.
Calderon did say recently that GP3 has to be her focus because that’s where she’s competing full time this year, so she won’t be with Sauber when she has GP3 commitments elsewhere.
Shea Holbrook Announces A Full Season In Lamborghini Super Trofeo
A month before the first race, seven-time Pirelli World Challenge winner Shea Holbrook announced that she’ll compete in a full season of Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America this year. She’ll be in the No. 67 Lamborghini Huracan Evo for all six races, starting with the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in May.
Holbrook got her start in racing at 16, when she rode along in a stock car at the Richard Petty Experience at Daytona International Speedway. Before that, she was a nationally ranked competitive water skier.
In a decade since that first ride along, she’s driven in the Sports Car Club of America, Late Models, drag racing, the Pirelli World Challenge and elsewhere. She also has her own Pirelli World Challenge race team, Shea Racing.
Go ahead and remember these names, because this probably won’t be the last time you read about them.