Sunday, 1 August 2010

Anna Walewska



Anna with her Britcar BMW

This British girl made history, when she became the youngest female racer in a car, ever. Anna competed in T-Cars, a touring car formula for 14-17-year-olds, and at 14 was also the youngest driver on the grid when she started in 2001. Although she enjoyed her racing, it is fair to say that good results were not forthcoming until late in her T-Car career. At the opening meeting of the 2003 season, Anna's two years of competition rewarded her with a strong fifth and sixth place. Unfortunately she vanished from the scene shortly afterwards and did not race for a while, returning to karting at club level.

In 2005 Anna staged something of a comeback, driving first a Honda Accord and then a powerful BMW M3 in the EERC Britcar series. She surprised many by carrying off a class win in her first race in the BMW, at Snetterton. Her co-drivers in the Geoff Steel Motorsport M3 were Andre d'Cruze and Michael Symons. Her season continued with some commendable results in the Production S1 class. She was awarded the EERC’s Driver of the Year award. Over the summer, she also represented Poland in the Formula Woman Nations Cup, a short Caterham racing series for female drivers from around the world.

Unfortunately, Anna got her face in the news for all the wrong reasons, when she was caught speeding on a motorway and almost lost her driving licence. She asked the prosecuting judge for leniency, saying that her motorsport career would be over without a road traffic licence. Certain sections of the press were scornful of her claim in court that a driving ban would prevent her becoming an F1 driver. The judge was lenient in the end, not because of Anna's racing commitments, but because she often drove her disabled brother around.

After receiving her Driver of the Year Award, Anna returned to Britcar and Production S1 in 2006, with the hope of more wins. She remained with the Geoff Steel team and the BMW, and was third at the end of the season. In the year-ending Britcar 24 Hours at Silverstone, she and her team-mates were fourth, after starting from pole position.

The arrangement with the team continued in 2007. Anna’s team-mate this year was Peter Heintzleman. The season was an eventful one, especially for Anna, whose budget was so small that she could not afford to do any testing. They also had to contend with a shunt at Spa, which made their title battle even more difficult. Both drivers came through in the last race of the season at Donington, keeping it on the track in fourth place in order to ensure their championship third.

After the Britcar championship was over, Anna was approached by Brookspeed Motorsport and was invited to test their Chrysler Viper, with a view to racing in the 2008 British GT Championship. Although she impressed the team during her test, she was unable to take the seat, due to funding constraints.

It was back to Britcar in 2008. Once more, she was driving the Geoff Steel M3, this time with Tony Gilham. The first race of the season was something of a nightmare, with snow, storms, and a car that reset itself out of race mode. The two drivers coped well, and steered the BMW to fourth place. However, at Snetterton, problems got the better of them and they did not finish. Budget constraints meant that Anna had to miss the Spa race that year, but she was back for the Brands Hatch round, where they were third. It was at this point that her funding ran out, and she did not race again until the Silverstone 24 Hours. Here, she was second in class in a diesel BMW run by CTR. She was 20th overall.

It was time for a change in 2009. Anna signed up to contest the VW Cup, driving a Golf GTi that previously belonged to her team-mate Tony Gilham. She was twelfth and thirteenth in her first outing, at Oulton Park. At Rockingham, she stayed outside the top ten, in fourteenth then eleventh. Her first top ten came at Knockhill, where she was seventh in Race One, but thirteenth in Race Two. The seventh place was repeated at Snetterton, with a disappointing late DNF in Race Two. She was a more consistent ninth and seventh at Donington, then tenth and ninth at Silverstone. A pair of sevenths at Brands Hatch rounded off a competent, if unspectacular debut season.

She returned to the VW Cup in 2010, driving a two-litre Golf supported by Alan Blencowe's team. However, she only took part in the first rounds, at Oulton Park, and managed only a single 22nd place.

Anna hoped to contest the British Touring Car Championship in the next couple of years, with the aim of entering the World Touring Car Championship at some time in the future. The Blencowe Racing deal was made with the aim of moving up to the team's touring car squad.

In 2014, Anna was once more making a name for herself in motorsport. She contested the Britcar Endurance championship with Intersport, supported by Bolton University's engineering department. Her car was a BMW V8 GT. She won Class 3 overall, assisted by Kevin Clarke and Ian Donaldson. In recognition of this, she was given the BWRDC Gold Star award.

In 2015, she was back on track with her racing career. She drove in the British GT Championship, still with the University of Bolton running her team. Her team-mate was Rob Garofall, and their car was a Ginetta G55. Anna's best finishes in the GT4 category were two sixth places, at Snetterton and Brands Hatch. She was 16th in the championship.

Her 2016 racing programme began with the Dubai 24 Hours, driving the Century Motorsport Ginetta. She and her team-mates won their class. She stayed with the team for her second season in British GTs, in the GT4 series. Her team-mate was Nathan Freke, and they had a good season, with a win at Rockingham and runner-up spots at Brands and Silverstone. Anna was eighth in the championship.

(Image from www.bolton.ac.uk)

2 comments:

  1. There is a 14 year old young female racer in New Zealand who is currently racing her second season in Formula Vee (known there as Formula First). She raced karts from age 6 and moved to the open aged Formula Vee class at 13. She finished her first season in 13th - from 24 total entries. You can find her on Facebook - Amy Smith Racing.

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  2. Hi Heather, thanks for commenting. Amy is on my list of new drivers for write-up, and will be appearing soon.

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