Record Playa : TGS talks to Natasha Chang
We talk to Jamaican racecar driver, Natasha Chang, who recently conquered Doi Chang -; one of Thailand’s tallest mountains -; by racecar in 'Record Rides'
TopGear Singapore (TGS): What inspired you to go into racing?
Natasha Chang (NC): My grandfather was a classic car enthusiast. He collected classic Jaguars, and our favorite times together involved fixing things then taking them out for a spin.
However, it wasn't until my friend Joel invited me to drive a gokart that I was hooked. Since that day, I've never looked back. I've done and raced in almost every genre of racing.
TGS: What are some of the life lessons you have learnt from being in motorsport?
NC: I’ve learnt a lot from being a part of motorsports. It's taught me to be unwavering in my beliefs and goals, and you shouldn’t allow someone else’s opinion or comments stop you from achieving your goal.
Most importantly, being a woman in a man’s sport has taught me humility. It taught me that as a woman, I have to prove myself over and over again, but that’s ok. I hope this will change one day, but for now, I will show you that we can do anything we put our minds to, and we’ll do it with class and style!
TGS: What are some of the biggest challenges you face as a woman in motorsport?
NC: I was a tomboy since I was 10. As a teenager, loving cars and having all-guy friends was hard. You were hated by the women and mocked by the guys (who weren’t your friends). It took some time to show that I was a car enthusiast like everyone else; no hidden motive, and it wasn't to seek attention. In motorsports, it's the same. I was the only female racing at the time in the Caribbean, so I had to prove myself, my worth and fight for respect. But once you get it, there’s no better feeling than to be a part of the motorsports family.
TGS: In your opinion, what do you think can be done to encourage more girls to be more interested in cars and motorsport?
NC: Its not talent that women lack, because I see more and more talented female drivers every day. I believe it starts at parents: To be a professional racer, many times you start karting at a very young age. We typically give our daughters Barbie Dolls and girly stuff to play with. We don’t normally give our girls the opportunity to do sports like driving karts.
My first Barbie set was a Jeep towing a horse trailer. I threw away the Barbie and played with the horse and Jeep. However, even as a child who loved cars and horses, it wasn’t until I was 18 that I came across an opportunity to drive a go-kart. If we have more girls falling in love with the sport from a younger age, we’ll have more women in motorsports.
TGS: In today's climate of gender equality, unfortunately sexism is still commonplace in the world of motorsport. What do you think can be done to level the playing field for guys and girls in motorsport?
NC: This is a two part question. Sexism still exists but that has nothing to do with levelling the playing field. I always say this: Motorsports is one of the few sports in the world where men and women compete equally - so there's your level playing field.
We are just as talented as men, but as women, we need to encourage MORE women to join and experience the sport from a younger age so they have the opportunity to start younger, gain more experience at a younger age and have a better chance of turning it into a profession.