As the first female and youngest person to win the British GT Championship, Jamie Chadwick is fast making a name for herself in the motorsport world. Last year she competed in the BRDC British Formula 3 Championship finishing 9th out 23, and is also known for competing in the Ginetta Junior Championship. I spoke to her about her career so far and her hopes for the future.
Like many racing enthusiasts, Jamie’s love of motorsport started at a young age when she “always liked watching F1 on the TV on Sundays”. Having spent some of her childhood on the Isle of Man she said: “I had petrol in my blood from a young age”, despite this, none of her family had any racing experience. “Although we used to watch it on TV and there was an interest, we didn’t know what we were getting ourselves in to,” she told me. “We were not used to being involved in that environment and taking part”.
Many drivers start racing from as young as 3 years old, but that was not the case with Chadwick. “I first went go-karting when I was 11 years old,” she explained. “I went down to my local track where my brother had been karting a couple of times before me. He would come home bragging how good he was and how he kicked everyone’s arses so I had to silence him and sibling rivalry kicked in”. The rivalry continued to spur her on until the “adrenaline rush” she got from racing around the track had her hooked, describing it as “the best feeling”.
Although Jamie admits motorsport started as a hobby and was not something that she initially dedicated all her time to, she began missing days of school through her commitment to karting, and at age 14, it became more serious. Speaking of this, she explained: “it was only in 2012/13 when I won the Ginetta Junior Scholarship which gave me a fully funded season in the Ginetta Junior Championship. To have that fully funded and to work with a manufacturer like Ginetta really showed me that it could be a career and that was the starting point when I knew it was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
Now she has set her heart set on racing, there is only one aim. It “has to be Formula 1 as it is the pinnacle on motorsport,” she informed me. “I know it’s going to be extremely tough to be there and there are a lot of hurdles to overcome and it is a big dream but I have to aim high and it’s the ultimate goal for any young driver”.
One of Jamie’s proudest achievements is winning the British GT Championship. “It is a big part of my career so far and a definite stand out point,” she told me. “I didn’t focus on the accolades surrounding it like the youngest driver and first female, I just set my goal on being the best I could be and winning as many races as possible.”
Chadwick admits she and teammate Ross Gunn “weren’t the favourites by any means” due to being so much younger than the other competitors, however this meant they “went in with no pressure and expectation” allowing them to really focus and do their best, and eventually come out on top. Still a surreal experience, Jamie added: “to do it for a company like Aston Martin was really special.”
But that doesn’t mean it’s all been easy. Speaking about the difficulties of racing she said: “there is a lot of disappointment in motorsport and a lot of things that can go wrong” but for Jamie, this only makes the good times better. “When you get the perfect lap, it would be like hitting the sweet spot on a tennis ball to a tennis player, there is no better feeling,” she explained. “When you get it right and everything is hooked up and you taste success, there is no feeling like it.”
I finished by asking about the advice she would give to young people. Being only 19 years old herself, she knows what it can be like to grow up racing in a male-dominated sport. “I think the best advice is to go to your local kart track and see if you enjoy it. It is not a sport for everyone but I loved it from the first time that I sat in the go-kart and the feelings I felt was incredible,” she told me. “I do not think that any other sport can offer that sense of speed and thrill”. She continued by saying: “if you feel the same way as I did then you will fall in love with it. The next important step is to continue working as hard as you can to try and make the dream a reality.”
Jamie Chadwick is a woman on a mission when it comes to succeeding in motorsport. Her addiction to the ‘winning feeling’ means she is immensely dedicated and motivated. She is hoping to be the first female F1 driver to start a race in over 40 years, and possibly the first to win a World Championship in history. She is realistic and realises that it will be a huge challenge, but for every young driver it is always a dream and for some it becomes a reality, so why not for Jamie?
(heading picture credit: Autocar)