Becca Taylor: "It's a chance that I wouldn't have in a normal situation and it's just a bit special"
Updated: Aug 31, 2021
Formula Woman debuted in 2004, and ran for three years before quietly exiting the racing scene. The UK based championship was geared towards novice female drivers, and this year, it is back with the biggest prize the series has ever had: the chance to race a McLaren GT4 in the 2022 GT Cup. A couple weeks ago, I spoke to Becca Taylor, a 21 year old from Lincolnshire who knows that she has more than just racing talent to take her to the top. When asked about how she fell in love with cars, she said:
"When I was younger, my dad had an old Porsche that I always remember being in love with, and also I was a bit of a tomboy so I preferred Thomas the Tank Engine over Barbies and Bratz dolls. When I turned 16, 17 and started learning how to drive, I was the only girl in my year that enjoyed it like the lads did, so there was always that as well.
"Then about a year and a half ago I drove a Lotus, and that’s when the real sort of passion for proper race driving started because its unlike any other car you’re driving, it’s a track focused car, so then you’re like “oh my god I want this.” I also didn’t really watch F1 until last year, when my partner was like “you should watch Drive to Survive on Netflix and keep up to date.” I got really excited with it, and this year we’ve sort of bit the bullet and we’re watching every race, phones down and just absolutely loving it.
"I think it’s taken that extra bit of maturity and experience to really appreciate the fundamentals of racing driving, like when you’re younger it’s just more like “oh my god I can drive to McDonald’s”, whereas now it’s like “okay now I can do heel toe” and “I can drive track really well” that sort of thing. And obviously now I’d love to get into racing, being in the driver’s seat is obviously the main goal."
Currently, Becca is balancing Formula Woman with a university degree. But with her hopes to become a driver, this was an opportunity she couldn’t miss.
"I’m actually in first year, I took a couple years out so I think that’s given me a bit of maturity with university as well. I think one perk [with Formula Woman] is that majority of the time preparation wise, is in the summer so I’ve got four months off til I have to go back, four months with nothing other than [training]. I run a small chocolate business as well, but obviously that’s controlled by myself.
"Even when I go back to uni, my course - even though its full time - is only one day a week and I travel from home so I’m only busy technically one day a week. Then organisation wise - I think thats probably one of my best attributes that I have things down to a T - with essays I get them done like maybe a month in advance rather than everybody else doing them like last minute. So I think stuff like that’s really helped me, it’s just a matter of getting things prioritised at the right time. When deadlines are coming up that’s obviously the priority, but if the assessment’s coming up and uni’s quiet you can afford to sort of like swap it up a little bit.
"Also for me, it's just that once in a lifetime opportunity. It's something that because of gender, age and finances I’ve never got to do. Even just a track day in your own car you’re looking at 500 pounds for one day which just isn't viable. Then being a female at 21, it is nearly impossible to get into it at a higher standard unless you have the millions of pounds to fund yourself and get in that way, so it's a chance that I wouldn't have in a normal situation and it's just a bit special to be able to do that."
It’s taken that extra bit of maturity and experience to really appreciate the fundamentals of racing driving.
Becca currently drives a Lotus Elise, which she has been taking out on track as well to make up her driving training. She has also made adjustments to her fitness and lifestyle, documenting all of it on her social channels @driving_bex.
"You can’t already be a racing driver or be a sponsored racing driver or whatever, but personally I have a track-spec car, so obviously driving that day to day is really beneficial because it makes you used to that track focused idea, but I’ve also done an experience day before which I was really lucky to have. It was at Hethel with Lotus, and the instructor I had was Martin Donnelly who was one of their ex-F1 drivers. So that was absolutely incredible, but I’m hoping to get out on track a couple more times before the assessments. It doesn’t feel like training because it’s fun, and I do things like go on the simulator, watch different like YouTube videos and hopefully again going out on track, which is something I’d want to do anyway whether it’s training or not. So it doesn’t really feel like hard work.
"Fitness wise I used to do netball up to national standards, so I’ve had it where I’ve been training for something before. But I was a lot younger so things were based a lot more about skill level and you weren’t allowed to lift weights and stuff because you were only 13, 14. So I think the maturity side and experience of working in a gym and stuff like that has helped sort of get the basic fitness under way.
"On top of that I spend a lot more time on my phone and social media and reaching out to companies and stuff like that. So I have a fundraiser running at the moment where 20 businesses have donated. It’s making me more productive and I’m like getting experience and more out of my day because of it. It’s only me sort of organising all that side of things, I’ll lay there in bed going 'okay what do I need to do tomorrow, like I must do this, I must do that', it’s all good fun."
When asked about a role model in racing, Becca hesitates,
“It’s kind of difficult as a woman because obviously there isn’t a lot of big-named women racing drivers, especially full time professional ones. I think a lot of them out there have jobs and everything, it’s more like a hobby. Out of the F1 lot, I absolutely adore Daniel Ricciardo, just because like he’s so down to earth with it all, he shows the hard work and dedication going into it but then the fun side and that, it is not just a hobby it’s a lifestyle and you want to take it to the big leagues.
"But I mean this is what’s so good about Formula Woman, there isn’t so many inspirational woman racing drivers out there. it's going to have a lot more publicity around it, so it sounds a bit silly but it’s kind of like football. so like women's football is always in the shadow of men's football. And I think the w series is kind of very similar it doesn't have the same things Formula 1 does for example, they don't have as many races and it’s not as televised, where I think for Formula Woman because it's a standalone thing, there isn't no men's equivalent it's just solely about the women. It’s really going to be its own star of the show almost and it won't just constantly be like ‘it's the crappier version of the of the men’s’.
"So it’ll be nice, especially with me, to try and get more publicity in the area rather than it be just sort of F1-focused. And just a lot of the mainstream media misses out on everything, so without that extra sort of research you don’t really hear of anything else."
I do have that something special.
With all of the work she has and is continuing to do up to the assessments, Becca truly believes she has the well-rounded foundation to go far in Formula Woman. But she’s also looking ahead to her future.
"Obviously everything they’re looking for isn’t just about driving fast, it’s about who you are as a person. Personality wise, your motivation and drive, the actual driving side of things, media [etc], out of all of them I think I’ve got potential for something that could be successful and I think that is what they’re looking for. If you already can drive the fastest around the track, you would already be a racing driver and that’s obviously not what they’re looking for. They’re looking for those people who have that something special and hopefully I do have that something special.
"[After Formula Woman], I’m in university, and I run a small chocolate business as well. So obviously my plan is always to try and get that kind of up to the point where I’m full-time. But even just through that, doing stuff like catering for motorsports or catering for a team or something would be really really cool and incredible to do as well.
"But ultimately, carrying on racing professionally would be amazing. Even if I win and I just get one season it’s an absolutely incredible experience that you’ll always look back on and be happy for but also give the experience to get into motorsport even like as a career or anything like that. Hopefully it’ll open many doors of opportunity, it’s the dream."
It was a lovely chat with Becca, and all of her socials are linked below! I would also appreciate it if you followed my Twitter to keep up to date on my new articles and share if you enjoyed it!
Raffle fundraiser: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/formula-woman-fundraiser