My parents gifted me with two items for my first birthday: a doll half my height, and a toy Lamborghini Countach LP5000. And while the memory I have of these gifts is only due to an old photo, I vividly remember how much I loved when my dad would sit me on his lap and let me steer our old Paykan in our gated community.
Although I developed my love of cars throughout my childhood, I was introduced to the world of automotive racing through autocross in my sophomore year of college. At my first autocross, I had to learn how to drive a manual car the morning of the race, and so it’s no surprise that I veered off course several times, spun out in the middle of the track, and ultimately finished in last place. Despite this, I gained some valuable instruction, and I was so excited that I had participated and that I had discovered a new passion.
For two years after that, I developed my autocross skills, which taught me a lot about my own car — I learned how to control it precisely and accurately. By the end of those two years, my car felt like an extension of my own body. And while low-speed autocrosses helped me become a better driver, I was eager to challenge myself with high-speed open track racing.
My first track event was nothing like my first autocross. I didn’t have any instruction or time to become accustomed to the track before racing on it. I wasn’t able to improve, and I finished my last session by going off of the track at a sharp corner. I left that day feeling defeated and unsure of when or how I could try open track racing again.
Exactly one month after this, I found out about the first-ever all women’s track day with the organization Accelerating Change. Within seconds, I was signed up and booking my hotel. Not only did this day include instruction, but it was hosted by Christina Nielsen, the first female driver to win a WeatherTech SportsCar Championship series title; so I felt that I had won the jackpot of a mentored event for getting back into open track racing.
Admittedly, I was a bit nervous when the day rolled around, but as soon as I stepped into the meeting room, my worries melted away, and the only thing that remained was an excitement for the challenge that awaited me.
I was paired with an incredible instructor who not only helped me learn how to perfect every corner but who also helped me gain confidence that has stuck with me since that day. And while my experience on the track made me discover my love of open track racing, my experience off of the track was just as incredible. I had the opportunity to network with women in various fields who shared my passion for motorsport. I went home that day with aching cheeks from how much I had been smiling.
Not only did Accelerating Change give me the opportunity to learn about open track racing and to improve my driving skills, but they also provided a platform for me to meet other women like myself who are passionate about motorsport, a field in which women are vastly underrepresented in.
On top of this, they helped me gain the confidence to pursue open track racing on my own. Since then, I have raced on multiple other tracks across Southern California. And while as a woman, I still am in the minority at every track day, because of Accelerating Change, I’m able to compete without being intimidated, but rather with a sense of confidence and excitement.
I think in any venture one pursues, it’s important to have a support system, and in open track racing, Accelerating Change has been the most incredible support system I could have asked for.