'We're just good as the boys', says teenage racing sensation juggling A-levels with dream job
PUBLISHED: 16:30 09 October 2019
This Kesgrave teenager is not your average 17-year-old - by day, she is studying for her A-levels, but in her spare time, she is storming national motorsport championships.
Lydia Walmsley, a pupil at Kesgrave High School, is making waves for women in sport as a Mini Cooper racing driver - travelling up and down the country to race on famous circuits such as Brands Hatch, Silverstone and local track Snetterton - dividing her time between her dream career and her exams.
Often the only woman on the track, Lydia is used to adrenalin-pumping thrills as she reaches speeds of 100mph - she has been racing against fully grown men since the age of 16. Last year was her first season in her Mini, and she was the only girl competing - something her sponsors say makes her an inspiration to other women.
"I do it for the adrenaline - it's such a great feeling," said Lydia, who started her career in motorsport before she was old enough to drive a car legally on the road.
"We girls are just as good as the boys and there's no reason why we shouldn't make it as well. I just love the sport, it's a huge part of my life now, and always has been."
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Lydia is hopeful that the future of racing will have more women taking part. She actively encourages young girls to get involved. The 17-year-old said: "There are more women on the track now than when I started, and there is actually one other woman who is doing the upcoming championships, so it's really nice to see. I have been racing boys since I started and I don't think they enjoy being beaten by a girl but they have got used to it."
And while her fellow A-level students may be worrying about what their futures will hold, Lydia is already committed to a career in the driver's seat.
She added: "When I finish school I'm planning to get my instructor's licence from the Association of Racing Driver Schools so that I can go to races and sit in the cars with drivers and instruct them. I am really lucky that I'm so passionate about this sport and that I can make a career out of it."
Lydia will compete in the final round of the Mini Challenge UK next weekend at Snetterton on Saturday, October 19.
She hopes to retain her current third placing and podium again for a grand finish to her season as the youngest driver in the series. And next time around? She wants to return with some A-Levels!