ChicMoto is back with another interview! We are so excited to introduce to you Pippa Mann!
Pippa Mann is a driver in the Verizon IndyCar Series and has accomplished a lot to get to where she is today. Just to name a few, she was the first female driver to score points and start a race from pole position in World Series by Renault, the first female driver to win a pole position for Indy Lights at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and once she got to IndyCar, she became the first British female to start the Indy500 race and the second fastest female driver in history at Indy 500!
ChicMoto is honored to have had the opportunity to interview Pippa, so without further ado, let’s welcome Pippa Mann and get to the interview!
Q & A With Verizon IndyCar Racer, Pippa Mann
CM: What were you like as a child? Were you cautious or a risk-taker? Is your family surprised that you’ve built a career in the racing world?
PM: I was pretty normal I think – I just liked playing with cars as much as I liked playing with dolls, and I always encouraged my dad to drive too fast in his road cars because I loved the speed. It’s definitely something very different for my family, no one in it has ever raced before, and sometimes I think my unstable life style – working jobs whenever I can to make ends meets, and then working the rest of the time on marketing so I can be back in a car – is still something that some of them are trying to come to terms with. The risk aspect is also uncomfortable for families not used to racing too.
CM: When you first started off in racing, what was the turning point for you where you knew you were “in”, as they say?
PM: Pretty much from the very first time I won a race in my own kart, a few months after my first race. I was hooked already, and from that point on, winning so quickly against more experienced people, I started to realize I not only loved it, but also I might be good.
CM: What was your first car and some great memories from it?
PM: A blue, manual, Puegoet 206. It was pretty small, handled quite well, but I was rather young and sort of drove it most places far too quickly. Thankfully it didn’t go very fast, even flat out, but I do know how fast it would go, downhill, with a tail wind behind it, on a good day… And I’m not telling!
CM: As a female driver, what are some biggest changes in the racing world that you’ve seen come around? How have these changes impacted your experience as a racer?
PM: I haven’t really seen any changes since I started driving. We are still no closer to a woman racing again in F1, and it’s still no easier for female drivers to find the funding to keep racing. Danica is pretty much the only female driver who has been successful at that aspect of the job at this high of a level. For the rest of us, it still seems to be an uphill battle a lot of the time.
CM: What was your proudest victory? And what did you gain from it?
PM: Qualifying for the 2011 Indianapolis 500 in a year when there were 42 cars competing for 33 spots, and I was the only one off rookie competing in her first IndyCar race to make the show. What did I gain from it? Getting to race in my first Indianapolis 500!
CM: What was your greatest defeat? And what did you learn from it?
PM: Not being able to put together the support to run the 2012 Indianapolis 500, and having to watch it from the sidelines. I knew I had to take on more of the commercial and marketing side myself, so that I was less reliant on things outside of my control. and other people, to be in a race car.
CM: What advice would you give women interested in starting their own careers in the racing world?
PM: You’re going to have to be incredibly determined, and you’re going to have to have incredibly thick skin. The higher you climb, the more people there will be wanting to knock you down. Stay grounded. When you have a good run it does not make you the next Ayrton Senna, but when you have a bad day, those idiots on the internet pontificating about your talent level should be taken just as seriously as the person who thought you were Ayrton. You’ll have to work hard to find committed sponsors and partners who believe in you, and are willing to stick with you through both swings of the pendulum I just described, and you’ll have to set your boundaries young in a way that male athletes often don’t have to in terms of what you will/won’t do for sponsorship money. Be true to yourself, and surround yourself with good people. Your team are the most important allies you can ever have.
CM: If you were talking to your younger self, what advice would you give yourself?
PM: You’re not going to end up with the life you imagined. You’re not going to be rich, famous, a multiple champion, and in fact you’re not even going to get to race full time. You’ll end up working myriad jobs in the industry to make ends meet between the few races you do, and while you will find a team that values you, supports you, and stands with you, they may not be the best funded team out there, and some days it might be hard. But all of this ends up being okay, and you know what? You end up finding ways to be grateful for every time you do get to race, and you find a way to be happy. It’s not the life you imagined, but nobody’s life is perfect, and all in all, working at race tracks, getting to drive fast race cars on occasion? That’s a good life.
CM: Have you been supported by a mentor during your career? Who were / are they? And what value have they brought to your career?
PM: No. I think that’s one of the reasons why I am so happy to be connected to other female racers now in the US.
CM: Being a race car driver you have to know your car inside and out. ChicMoto was created with the idea of helping women learn more about the automotive industry to gain better confidence in what they were driving. In your opinion, what is the most important thing any person should know about their vehicle and why?
PM: Where the spare tire is and how to change it!
Also… Learn to drive a stick. It will be tough at first, but once you get the hang of it, it will change the way you think of, and drive your car.
It is hard work being a race car driver but Pippa remains positive through it all; Like she said in our interview “You end up finding ways to be grateful for every time you do get to race, and you find a way to be happy. It’s not the life you imagined, but nobody’s life is perfect, and all in all, working at race tracks, getting to drive fast race cars on occasion? That’s a good life.”
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