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Interview with Amber Anderson

Female drivers are up and coming in the world of motorsports. They race everywhere; in Europe, USA, Asia and Australia. One of the fastest female drivers of Australia is Amber Anderson. She is looking forward to make a big step and coming to Europe to put the world of motorsports on fire. RacingInside.com spoke to Amber Anderson in an exclusive interview.

Amber AndersonAmber, 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?
My name is Amber Anderson and I’m a racing car driver from Melbourne, Australia. I commenced my career driving sprint karts when I was 12 years old. I moved from karts to Porsche racing after a few years and I loved it. I was always the only female racer and after a short time some other teams contacted me to race their cars and I raced in the Australian Manufacturers Championship winning class in the penultimate round at Phillip Island. I have since been driving Porsche Challenge and testing in cars such as the Nissan R35 GT-R, Porsche 996 GTR, Ferrari 360, Holden V8 VE R8, Mini Challenge Cars and V8 Utes.

How did you get involved in racing? Have you always wanted to become a racedriver yourself? Did your parents always support you?
My family had no real interest in racing, but I did from a young age. I started karting after my father took me to a rental go-kart track one day. We spent a fortune and almost 8 hours at the rental track. I demanded to go back the following week for more and the week after that! In the end, the owner of the kart facility told my father that there was actually a world of professional karting which may be a cheaper option and we visited a club and my love of racing took off from there! My parents are supportive of my racing, but not too involved. My dad has often crewed for me with the Porsche and Production Car, but my mother and grandfather do not like the racing because they think it is dangerous!

Did you, like many other drivers, start your career in karting? Do you think karting will be an essential step in the career of a racedriver?
Yes, I did start in karts. But I do not think that it is an essential step. It can be very expensive to run a competitive karting program and it can often be just as good for some people to just start racing as soon as they can in something like Formula Ford.

You have raced in different cars throughout the years. For example, you have raced in Porsche, Ferrari and some other saloon cars. 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?
The main difference in the cars that I have driven is mainly power, but also behavioural differences. I have driven rear wheel drive mid-engined cars like Ferrari’s, rear-wheel drive rear engined cars like the Porsche and then the all wheel drive cars like the Nissan GT-R and the little front-wheel drive Mini’s. They each have their quirks and I have to admit, while I love the Ferrari and the Nissan GTR, my favourite is still the Porsche. It is an absolute blast to drive. You are always so busy driving it.

In 2010 there will be a whole new adventure for you, could you tell more about that possible adventure?
I am delighted to be offered the opportunity to be selected by Dreamtech Engineering. I am especially looking forward to working closely with a great team led by some fantastic guys and the specialist engineers that will come together in 2010 to form this highly competitive and professional team for German Formula 3.

I am also personally looking forward to a move from Australia, in the southern hemisphere up to the Netherlands, where the team will be ultimately based. I have been racing in Australia for a number of years now and this represents a wonderful opportunity and challenge for me to extend my driving skills in the global arena. With luck, we plan to do some testing in 2009 so that we are competitive and ready to go early in 2010 for the German Formula 3 season.

I am also thrilled that Dreamtech is planning to run the sophisticated UK built Litespeed R1 chassis with the Mugen Honda engine which I think will be a great combination. We plan to continue developing and testing with the car throughout the 2010 year with a view to improving our performance every time, this will be a great adventure for the whole team as well as a work in progress.

Anderson with the Nissan GTR Safety CarAs a female driver in a male dominated sport, I am extremely excited by the opportunity offered to me by Dreamtech to gain this wonderful experience in German Formula 3.  It is also great to be part of a new and upcoming team and to assist in developing it from the ground up.

More than anything, I am already looking forward to hitting the track as soon as possible to start learning the tracks and to become familiar with the car!

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?
Yes, there are always these moments! The best moment for me was when my all-female team finished the Bathurst 12 Hour race. We were the only girls to finish and we beat factory backed teams on a shoe-string budget... It was a great moment! Bathurst – Mt Panorama is one of the most difficult tracks in the world and this race is a gruelling 12 hour production car race which tests even the most hardened racing veterans. I think we ended up 4th in our class, but it was more the sense of achievement and teamwork to finish a race that length that was so great!

The moment I would like to forget as soon as possible is a big accident that I was involved in which was in my Porsche at Winton. I was shunted heavily into a concrete barrier almost head-on. My car was destroyed, but I was ok.

If you look at your further career, what do you hope to achieve?
My ultimate goal has always been to race Sportcars, FIA GT, Le Mans and/or American Le Mans. I love to race and there are many steps that you must take to reach these goals.

If you could change your life with another racedriver for just one day, who will be the one you are changing with?
My favourite driver of all time is Ayrton Senna, he was brilliant. However, now if I could swap for a day, I would wish to be like David Brabham, an Australian sportscar driver.

Amber AndersonBesides the fact that you are a race driver, you are also a lawyer, public speaker, television reporter and aircraft pilot. Which of your jobs do you like the most?
Definitely race car driver!! Although the others are fun too! I would probably rank flying and aerobatics a close, close 2nd!

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.?
The reaction is mixed, some people are very enthusiastic and encouraging about my career choice. Others think that I am trying to be a feminist or trying to prove a point to everyone,  this is definitely not the case! I do this sport because I love it.
There are so few female drivers in the world today and I think that it has both benefits and drawbacks. The benefits are obvious, you are different so you stand out just by being a different gender. This can be good for sponsors. The drawbacks however,  are that you are often more heavily criticised or judged because you are trying to do something different, so if you do something wrong it can take a long time to recover from that.

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?
The hardest thing about being an up and coming racecar driver is finding funding to continue racing. There is a misconception out there that racecar drivers are paid a lot of money to race and travel the world in private jets. Unfortunately, this is a very small percentage of drivers!

On the other hand, another hard thing is trying to keep your emotions under control. Racing is often an emotional sport, but as a driver, you can’t stamp your feet and pout, when something goes wrong. Things always go wrong! You just need to develop a tough skin and get out there and try again.

What would you like to say to everyone that is dreaming of a career in racing?
Don’t give up and follow your dreams. This is not an easy sport and you have to just keep going if you want to achieve what you desire. One of my favourite sayings is that “if it was easy, everyone would be doing it”- I think that it is very true! Oh and I would say good luck and get as much track time as you possibly can in anything- all experience is good experience!