Setting out in motorsport is a difficult business, but being a 15 year old girl from an average family with no backing, wanting to fulfil a life time ambition of becoming a professional driver must be even more difficult.
Shanel Drewe Racing.com from Bristol has provided a valuable insight of how within three months of a track lesson with Transband Motorsport, Shanel was taking part in her first ever motor race in the 2016 Junior Saloon Car Championship.
So keen to be involved with motorsport, Shanel spent 2015 assisting various motorsport teams doing anything from washing wheels through to mechanical repairs. Although Shanel had completed various young driver lessons, mainly in supermarket car parks, the track test was meant just to be a birthday treat. But Shanel’s father Mark said that a very positive track test combined with her determination and competitive nature meant he just had to try something, otherwise they would both go through life wondering, what if?
In what is described as a very surreal few weeks following the test, Mark sold a track MX5 he had spent a few years saving for and only just bought, and purchased a previous championship car. Mark said “we got it home and just sat there looking at it on the drive wondering how were even going to do one race, let alone a whole season”.
What attracted Mark and Shanel to the Junior Saloon Car Championship was the low cost (if not the lowest cost form of junior motorsport) if entered as a private team, the one make approach which ensures it is driving ability that takes priority, and the high quality of driving that is encouraged with contact by exception only, (which is a vital component for those at their end of the motorsport sphere). They were also very pleased with the way the Championship partners with the Teenage Cancer Trust which is something they intend to fully support.
Three months of endless letter writing, web site/on-line profile development and networking has resulted in a strong list of national and local partners which includes Wrapped Up Cars.com who are responsible for the impressive pink and black wrap, Chandler Citroen in Bristol providing technical support, Dansoft Aviation Services Ltd, Witham Motorsport (official UK Motul importer), NGK Spark Plugs, Goldstar on Board for Cameras and Data, and Grand Prix Racewear of Silverstone.
The strongest form of success in gaining support has been by meeting people in person and by their on-line presence. They have posted and emailed almost 200 introductions with response perhaps as low as 5%, but face-to-face communication has sparked on-going communication and interest in about 50% of cases.
This is supported by Richard Scarbrough, Sales Director at Witham Motorsport who are official lubricant supplier of Silverstone Drive, and sponsor of Speedworks Motorsport (Tom Ingram in the BTCC) amongst others. Richard said it was refreshing to meet a young female at the Autosport show with such a passion for motorsport, and strongly believes it is about time women were represented in the senior echelons of motorsport, so Witham Motorsport have lead by example and are very proud to support Shanel.
Daniel Taylor of Dansoft Aviation Services Ltd shares a similar outlook. Having approached Shanel directly after following her on-line sites, and previously supporting female racer Louise Richardson in the MSA Formula Championship, Daniel says female involvement in motorsport is slowly increasing but needs to reach equality, and is looking forward to help change this by being involved in nurturing Shanel at the start of her racing career.
Shanel is keen to note that the kind support shown by all of Shanel Drewe Racing Partners has had a very profound effect on her. “In the assembly area of the very first qualification session at Oulton Park I suddenly felt I was behind a large glass screen looking in. It wasn’t the nerves of driving as I never seem to get nervous about that, it was a result of all of the hard work, all of the preparation, and the support from my Partners. I just couldn’t believe we had actually made it. But as soon as I pulled away for the first time I turned that emotion into a steely determination to do everyone proud this season”.
This was certainly shown in Shanel’s first ever motorsport event. Despite a simple aim of just finishing the first event cleanly and to get a couple of race finishes under their belt, Shanel qualified 23rd on the grid but finished 19th and 17th in the races, and cut an initial twelve second qualification lap deficit to the front pole setters, to just six seconds by race 2 as her confidence grew.
Rick Souza Director of Wrapped Up Cars.com recognised the difficult task Shanel has in such a male dominated sport the moment she called into his workshop to introduce herself. Having worked on racing trucks in his native Brazil, Rick used his entire annual marketing budget to wrap the car in a new livery to help her get noticed.
The support of all these organisations demonstrate there is growing support for female drivers, and improves the hope that the 2015 statistic of only 8% of racing licenses being held by females will soon change, and that we will soon start to see more of Shanel and her fellow female drivers in senior levels of motorsport as their careers progress.
With regards to Shanel Drewe Racing, Mark says “we are really still at the start of our entry, but we can now look forward to a much more certain future, and continue to work hard with our existing partners and supporters. We would welcome any future partner interested in joining this exciting journey and can be contacted at Shanel Drewe Racing.com”.