In this article: This racing driver explains how she went from horse riding to putting down some serious horsepower at Le Mans

What inspired you to get into motorsport?

I’ve always been into cars, and I was taken to my first motor-racing circuit when I was just six weeks old. My dad was massively into cars and motorsport, and he was racing in a six-hour relay race at the time. So I grew up with cars, helping him in the garage, and then, when I went off to university, he told me to buy a Haynes manual and get on with fixing my car by myself.

What was your first experience on the track?

I had a track-day experience in a single-seater at Castle Combe when I was 18, but when I was 20 my dad said I should do an action day. I thought he meant the parade lap for a race, but he actually meant having a go! I was bitten by the bug and it was the start of my mission to become a professional racing driver.

Breaking into motorsport isn’t easy. What shape did your journey take?

I did horse riding when I was a teenager, not karting or anything like that. In 2007, I set up a used car sales business and started saving up. Once I had enough money, I bought an old racing car: a Porsche 924, which cost me £5,000. SEAT sponsored my race licence, and I started racing in the BRSCC Porsche Championship. In my second season, I managed five podiums including a race win. At that point, I said to myself “I’m going to take this more seriously now”, so I launched Project Le Mans in 2013, with the aim of racing at the famous track.

Once you decided you wanted to race at Le Mans, how did you go about it?

My four-year plan was to get to Le Mans, which meant pitching for sponsorship.  I was lucky enough to be interviewed at an Autosport event, but at the time I didn’t even have a car! Thankfully, I managed to secure everything I needed (£10,000 worth of parts) to turn a road-going Porsche Boxster into a race car for the BRSCC Porsche Production Boxster championship. I then went on to win the championship and race in the GT Cup, driving a 911.

Next, I competed in the European GT4 championship in a KTM X-Bow GT4 with Reiter Engineering. That experience basically taught me how to be a professional GT driver. The car was sponsored, and I could bring my own sponsors too. It was a really great deal all round: great for them and great for me as a driver. I finished third in the ladies’ championship, and in 2016 I finally got to race at Le Mans in an LMP3 car in the Road to Le Mans support race, which was incredible.

What are your memories of the journey to Le Mans and racing on such an iconic circuit?

Every single waking moment was about Project Le Mans. With everything I was offered and every opportunity that I found, I would ask myself “How does it affect the project?” Le Mans is part-road and part-circuit, and there were all sorts of cars out there with me. That meant there were a few incidents, particularly as you have to go from travelling at a really low speed right back up to racing speed again, so you really, really have to be on the ball and paying attention. When I was on the track, I just kept hearing “Push, push, push Rebecca” over the team radio. I was so focused on what I was doing, but I still had that feeling of “just wow”. It shows what you can achieve if you surround yourself with the right people and have a plan and a strong work ethic.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of a career in motorsport?

There are so many different roles involved in motorsport, so always check the companies’ websites for job opportunities. You have to go out there to get them – they won’t come to you.

Rebecca Jackson is a racing driver and a former presenter of Fifth Gear.

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