Having just last week announced her retirement from a hugely successful Irish Hockey career, one might have been excused for thinking that Nicci Daly would rest on her proverbial laurels over the festive season before embarking on a further chapter. Well think again. Having set up the Formula Female initiative back in 2018, Nicci worked with Motorsport Ireland to raise funding for the Go Girls Karting campaign. The aim was to show young girls that there are genuine career opportunities for them in Motorsport, not just as drivers, but as engineers, mechanics etc.
Having received funding from Sport Ireland and the late John Campion’s CJJ Motorsports concern, Formula Female and Motorsport Ireland ran a series of workshops at karting centres all across the country. As with many sporting events, the initiative was put on pause due to the pandemic and its associated restrictions.
Last week, however, at Kiltorcan Kart Track in Kilkenny, the winners from all corners of the country were invited back to an All Ireland Shootout, with the top three receiving the prize of a test and experience day in a race spec Tillotson T4 kart.
24 students attended and competed at the event, after which they attended a panel discussion on Women in Motorsport. The panel comprised of representatives from Motorsport Ireland, Formula Female, Digital Motorsports, a kart racer and even an Irish F1 Engineer!
The winners of the A final and an experience day in the Tillotson T4 racing kart are as follows: 1.Eimear Curtain from St.Brogans in Bandon, Co. Cork 2. Ava Archer from Templecarraig, Co. Wicklow 3. Rosie McMahon from Colaiste Iognaid, Co. Galway
The winners of the B final were: 1. Emily Woodward from Templecarraig Co. Wicklow 2. Zoe Lonergan from Ardscoil La Salle, Raheny, Co. Dublin 3. Nina Lonergan from Ardscoil La Salle, Raheny, Co. Dublin
The John Campion Award (below)was presented to the driver with the most spirited effort in memory of Go Girls supporter John Campion, which went to Amber Jordan from Galway Educate Together, in Galway who improved her lap time over the course of the day by an incredible 36 seconds.
The Women in Motorsport Panel:
- Pippa Treacy – Go Girls mentor and development Engineer at Mercedes F1 team. Pippa was new to motorsport in 2019 with no previous background in the sport. Following a mentoring role with the Go Girls program in 2019/2020 she pursued the Motorsport engineering course in Cranfield university in 2020/2021, and now works with the Mercedes F1 team as a development engineer.
- Kayleigh Cole – 17 year old kart driver who just completed her first year in single seaters, competing in the F1000UK championship. Kayleigh, a relatable role model for these young girls shared her story of how she got involved in karting, how that involvement quickly turned into a passion and her drive and determination to becoming a professional racing driver.
- Laura Hannon – an engineer, author of Daisy’s first race car book and Digital Motorsports representative. Laura shared an insight into the digital world of Motorsport through sim racing, how it can be used for training and development purposes as well as offering an affordable and accessible route into the sport for all ages and genders.
- Ilona Sheehan – Vroom Racing, an all female F1 in schools team sponsored by Formula Female Ilona shared an insight into the F1 in schools and the challenge each member took on having very little knowledge of F1 or the technology and software skills required for designing and developing an F1 in schools car. It was a project they felt educated them on the sport and the various roles within it, including engineering, business, marketing and PR. It was a wonderful experience that encouraged them to consider Motorsport careers after school.
- Rebecca McDonald – Formula Student UCD team. Rebecca informed the students of the Formula Student, a third level project where students design, build and race an electric powered racing car at the famous Silverstone track in the uk.
- Angela Henehan – Motorsport Ireland Board member spoke to the girls about her involvement in the sport, highlighting that while women are in the minority in the role of governance and leadership, the sport is progressive and great opportunities are available for women within Motorsport in Ireland. Angela highlighted the impact joining the local Motor Clubs can have in helping you get started with a role in Motorsport.
- Nicci Daly – Tokyo 2020 Olympian, Founder of Formula Female, Go Girls co-ordinator and Motorsport Engineer. Nicci shared the story of where Formula Female and the Go Girls initiative stemmed from. As one of the only females who studied Motorsport Engineering in her class, and the only female engineer to work with an Indycar team in the USA, Nicci wanted to share her positive experience of working and studying in the sport despite being the only girl. Formula Female was the platform she created to highlight the many women working and competing all around the world in motorsport. The Go Girls program provides the opportunity for young girls to gain exposure to the sport for the first time and to understand how STEM subjects play a role in Motorsport and the many career opportunities they provide.
With the shootout now complete, Formula Female and Motorsport Ireland are already working on the 2022 Go Girls programme, and details of how schools can express interest will soon be announced