Fast ladies, they are up and coming in the world of motorsports. Some of them are already famous, like Danica Patrick and Katherine Legge, and other ladies are on their way to become a big star. Kat Impey, from the UK, is one of the fast ladies that is eyeing a big career in motorsports. She is a fast girl in singleseaters and climbing up the ladder of motorsports. RacingInside.com spoke to Kat Impey in an exclusive interview.
Kat, you are a talented female driver. Unfortunately, a lot of our visitors will not know who you are. Could you please give a short introduction about yourself to the visitors that do not know you?
Hi, my name is Katharine Impey, I'm 22 and I've been racing since I was 12 years old. I started racing in karts at various clubs and nationally around the UK until I was 16 years old. I was then offered a drive in a national Formula Ford. I was doing pre-season testing with the team, but we decided to move over to the Formula Jedi series due to our sponsors’ request. The Jedi is a sequential gearbox, slicks and wings singleseater. This season I'm doing the highly prestigious Monosposto Series, which is going really well for me so far. While doing this I'm now looking towards next year and getting things in place to race in the German Formula 3 series, which will be a great opportunity for me.
How did you get involved in racing? Have you always wanted to become a racedriver yourself? Did your parents always support you?
My dad has always been enthusiast of the sport, so I have always been around cars and motorsport. However to my fathers surprise, from a very young age, I started taking an interest in the sport. I would often pester him to take me to the kit car shows, touring car meetings, Le Mans etc. he was going to with his friends. My dad just thought I was going through a tomboy faze, so he didn't really take me seriously when I said I want to become a racing driver as my career. Finally after many years of pestering he let me join Langley Go Kart Club. It was a little amateur club, where every Saturday we'd met at a car park, put cones out and they provided karts for us all to go in. After a while of doing that, my dad realized this wasn't a faze and that I really wanted to doing karting properly and race. My dad bought me a pro kart, which I tested in for a while and then we bought a Junior Rotax Max, which I raced for two years before being offered a drive in singleseaters. From then on, I've moved up the ranks and have been very successful so far.
You have started your career, like many other drivers, in karting. Did you enjoy your period in karting and do you think karting will be an essential step in the career of a racedriver?
I enjoyed karting very much and still I like to get out in a kart to keep me sharp and fit. I do think it gives you an edge if you start young in karts. It teaches you speed, the racing line and race craft.
You have raced in different cars throughout the years. What are the main differences between all the cars you have driven throughout your career? Which car, do you think, is the most exciting to drive?
I haven't actually driven that many cars over my career so far but let me think. I've driven karts, a Formula First, Formula Ford, Formula Jedi, Caterham and various saloon cars while instructing. Out of those ones, I love the Jedi because it is so nimble, light and does times close to the national F3 cars. It was a great car to use as a stepping stone from karts to cars, so it was always have a special place in my heart. I will be testing a Formula 3 car in a few weeks though and do expect that to be the best experience.
You have developed yourself very well. In 2009 you are getting better and better. Where do you think that your progression will stop?
I don't plan to ever stop progressing. I'm pushing hard to keep moving up the singleseater ladder and if I do get a drive in Formula One, DTM or another high level series, I won't ever stop learning and progressing myself as a driver.
What do you think your further career will look like? Are you already thinking about 2010?
I'm focusing on next season already. I'm in talks with a Formula 3 team to race with them in German Formula 3 for 2010 and I've just bought an older Formula 3 car to practice in, in the UK and enter a few BRSCC F3 rounds. I feel Formula 3 is a vital stepping stone on the route to Formula One.
Every race driver has good and bad moments during his career. What is your best moment in racing, until now? What is the moment you would like to forget as soon as possible?
Haha. . another very tricky question. Erm. . my best moment. . I've had many good moments but my best so far must be my win at Donington Park in 2006, where in qualifying I almost blew my engine up and have a very up and down day after many car issues but in the race I got the lead off the line and got a 32 seconds lead in the wet and was very dominant.
The moment I would like to forget most is the opening round at Silverstone in 2007. I had just moved up to the 1000cc class and there were 38 cars on the grid. It was my first time in the new car and I qualified 7th, in the first race I finished 5th. Then in the second race I was dicing over third, when I lost the rear end and spun on the exit of copse corner, also known as turn one. It wasn't long into the race and with 38 cars on the grid, there was many cars entering copses after I had parked it on the curb. Unfortunately because it’s a blind entry to the corner, none of the other drivers could see me. I had a huge impact with one car at the front, this spun me round and I have a further impact from another car to the side and then I had a final big impact to the rear of the car. This split the chassis and wrote the car off so I was very lucky to walk away.
If you could change your life with another racedriver for just one day, who will be the one you are changing with?
Well when I was a kid I use to look up to Damon Hill and he was one of the main reasons I wanted to start racing, but I guess I can't swap with him because he is retired now. So I would swap with Sebastian Vettel, because I feel he is incredible talented and will be the next Schumacher and I would love to be fighting for the Formula One World Championship.
Is it hard to keep standing as a female driver in a world which is mainly filled by male drivers? What reactions do you get from other drivers, supporters, teams etc.?
I think I have to work harder at gaining respect from everyone, because people assume that being female must mean I'll be no good. However, it is great to go out there and put it on pole and win, then take my helmet off for people to see I'm a young female. On the whole, I haven't had any real problems with fellow competitors and teams andgeneral public seem to really admire what I'm doing. I get a lot of publicity for being a successful female in a male dominated sport.
Many people think that the life of a racedriver is all fun and just a dream. But if you take a look to the ‘inside’ of racing, what is the hardest part of being a racedriver?
There is so much involved for the driver from raising the budget to performing on track. I would say that it is very hard that there are thousands of young up and coming drivers with a lot of talent and limited seats, so you not only have to work on you performance as a driver, but your PR skills, fitness, sponsorship deals, corporate events etc.
What would you like to say to everyone that is dreaming of a career in racing?
You only live once and it is so important to go with your heart and if it is what you truly want, then go for it and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. If you put your mind to it, you can do almost anything. As long as you have gritty determination and passion, you will be able to achieve your goals.