“Dad used to say I was really calm, only when F1 was on TV.”
Sitting on the couch at the age of two, Swiss-born Simona De Silvestro fell in love with Supercar racing.
De Silvestro’s love affair with the sport spawned from her father’s involvement with cars in her hometown.
“I fell in love with my Dad having a [Car] Dealership in Switzerland. He is really passionate about cars, so I got that bug,” she began.
“When I was four, Dad saw that I wanted to drive. I couldn’t reach the pedal so he drove me around. I cried because I wanted to drive and it annoyed him enough that he got me a Go Kart, when I got a bit taller.”
But, the journey to make it to the big time wasn’t all that easy for the first full time female Supercar driver, whose home country banned racing many decades prior.
“In Switzerland, racing is banned, since 1955. There wasn’t a lot of karting options,” De Silvestro said.
“Luckily, we would go to France, an hour and half drive and there was a Go Kart Track. That’s where I ended up starting.”
But the lack of opportunity in Switzerland drove De Silvestro to branch out and make the move to the US, to further her chance of making it to the big time.
“Most of my career happened in America, I was racing in IndyCars,” she said.
It accumulated to her grand return to her home, where she would race to achieve one of her earliest goals.
“I came back to Europe to test in Formula One, which was my big dream.”
However, while her dream did not come true, De Silvestro rose again, this time taking on a new challenge and bringing her life to the Gold Coast in Australia.
“That unfortunately didn’t fall into place, but I got the call in 2015 to come to race Bathurst. It’s one of the biggest races, like the Indy 500. It was a no-brainer for me to come here and do it!”
“I got a full-time [racing] deal here in 2017, which has been pretty exciting so far,” De Silvestro said.
But the ride hasn’t always been so smooth for De Silvestro, especially being the only girl for many years on the track.
“Most of my career, I’ve been the only girl. I’m used to it. I just wanted to be a successful racing driving, that was all.”
However, De Silvestro wanted to give girls a chance to make it in the industry, so she was first on board when she was asked to be a part of the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport’s (CAMS) ‘Dare to be Different’ Program.
This program empowers young girls to involve themselves in motorsports.
“There is not really a lot of opportunity for girls to get into racing. So, we do workshops and race work.”
“It reminds me of myself, seeing the girls hands on,” De Silvestro said.
But De Silvestro recognises that she wouldn’t be where she is without her own self-motivation and belief, to get her to this elite level and have the drive to keep improving her game.
“Racing is a difficult career choice. To get to the top, there aren’t many opportunities,” Silvestro began.
“I’ve really had to prove myself again and again [as a woman]. If a guy driver is considered quick, he is considered quick anywhere, but for me, coming to Australia especially, there was a bit of ‘let’s see what you can do’,” she said.
“But you have to be able to have a tough skin and get on with what you are meant to be doing – that’s going fast in the car.”
2019 BetEasy Darwin Triple Crown Supercars will be racing from June 14 to 16, with De Silvestro looking to become the first person in history to take out all three races in the event.
You can get your tickets to be involved in all the action this year in Darwin, by following the link below: