Eleven-year-old Alyx Coby from Newbridge, Co. Kildare in Ireland has grown up with racing in her family. Her father raced karts for years when he was younger and her uncle still races with the family racing team. Alyx has been competing in the Motorsport Ireland Karting Championship for four years and this year moved up to the IAME X30 Junior class where she is the only girl on the grid and also the youngest driver, racing against boys as old as 16.
“I wanted to race since I was very little. My dad, Gary, and my uncle Aaron both raced karts and run our race team with my Grandad. I practically grew up in the paddock. Before I was old enough to race I spent most weekends at the track watching my dad and uncle race so I was bound to end up racing!” Alyx told us.
“My first race was in February 2013 with the Irish Karting Club. I had done some testing before then but this was my first proper race. I was nervous, but excited too. My race number was 99 which is the same number my dad used when he raced so it was great to keep the tradition going. I finished 7th in the heats and 9th in the final, which wasn’t a bad result for my first race since all the drivers ahead of me had raced the previous year.”
Alyx currently races in the Motorsport Ireland Karting Championship, the national championship in Ireland. She started racing at the age of 8, in Cadets, and after racing for three years moved up to the IAME X30 Junior class for 2016.
“The X30 kart is very different to the Cadet kart. The engine is 125cc compared to 60cc in Cadets. One of the things I like most about the X30 is that it has a push button start – the Cadet karts had a pull start and if I stopped out on track I had to wait for somebody to come and start it for me,” Alyx said.
“The tyres also have a lot more grip and that has been one of the hardest things to get used to – after my first few sessions in the X30 my arms were really sore from the extra effort required to get the kart through the corners.”
A race weekend for Alyx usually consists of a full day of testing on Saturday and on Sunday we have an official practice session followed by two qualifying heats and two finals. There are 18 races over 9 weekends during the season and the best 16 results over the season count towards the final championship position.
The races take place at five different racetracks across Ireland so there is a lot of travelling involved.
“One of the things I enjoy most about karting is getting to spend a lot of time with my dad. He runs our race team so we spend a lot of time together, just the two of us, travelling to races, going testing, working on the kart in the workshop and even just talking about races afterwards.
“I have learned so much from my Dad and he inspires me to want to be as good as he was when he raced. He keeps telling me that there is always room to improve and always a tenth of a second to be found somewhere – that’s something he says A LOT!
“My family also come to every race so it is a family day out too.”
There’s no doubt that any 11-year old in would be eager to race, and Alyx is no different.
“In the days before a race, I get really excited and can’t wait for race day. On race day I am excited too – all I want to do is get out and race – but I’m also very nervous about how the races will go. I always try my hardest, but there is always a chance that something might go wrong. My family put a lot of time and effort into my racing so I also don’t want to let them down. Being in the kart and racing is a real adrenaline rush – there’s no way to properly describe how it feels if you haven’t experienced it. “ Alyx has lot’s of achievements under her belt already, too.
“In my first year ,I won two novice finals and then in my second year I won one qualifying heat and was on the podium a few times.
“My third year was when it all started to come together and I won three finals and set six fastest laps. I also finished in fifth place in the championship.
“I became the first girl to win a national final at Cadet level in Ireland last year and was also presented with the Irish Karting Club’s John Brennan Award for sportsmanship.”
We asked what her best memory of racing was this far and Alyx told us, “The first time I won a National Championship final in Cork in 2015 was one of the best days of my life. To know all my hard work and tears paid off. It’s so hard to describe the feeling. I had come second in the two qualifying heats, and then to win both the finals was proof to me that I could do this. It gave me so much confidence and drove me to win my third final at the next meeting.”
Competing in an environment of where the field is otherwise all male (and more than five years older than you) is an impressive achievement for Alyx and certainly shapes a positive future for the Irish racer.
“At my first race, I was the only girl, but another girl started racing during my first season. The boys didn’t intimidate me because most of my friends are boys and I wouldn’t let them keep me from doing something I love. “Karting is seen as a boys’ sport, but it is actually one of the few sports where they don’t separate the boys from the girls – we all compete together. It should not matter that I am a girl, but sometimes I feel there is more pressure on me to prove myself because I am a girl.
“For the 2016 season, I will not only be the only girl on the grid in my class, I will also be the youngest driver at 11, racing against boys as old as 16. I think that being so young is a bigger obstacle to being accepted than being a girl, but all I can do is try my best and prove that I am just as good as they are.”
Most 11-year olds have no idea what they want to do when they’re older, but things couldn’t be more different for Alyx.
“I hope to be the best female kart racer in Ireland and also to win the Motorsport Ireland Karting Championship. I know that racing is something that is always going to be a huge part of my life and I just want to race forever!
When I’m older I would love to race cars and who knows, maybe go all the way to F1, but for now karting is all I think about.”
We certainly wish Alyx the best of luck for the remainder of the 2016 season and we’ll be keeping you up to date with her progress as she climbs the ranks to, hopefully, achieve her dream.
You can keep up with Alyx’s progress using the links below: