Meet our November That Girl, Claire Jedrek! Ultimate #GirlBoss and the only female race car driver in Singapore!
When we were growing up as little girls, we were told that we could do anything we want in life, as long as we worked hard for it. Yet, somewhere down the line, careers in motorsports became a bit of a boys’ club. Shattering the glass ceiling in this male dominated industry is Claire Jedrek. This sassy and tenacious lass is not only a fitness enthusiast, she’s a host and presenter (she commentated live for the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia at the Singapore Formula One GP 2014!), is the only female race car driver in Singapore and more recently, took on the role of Marketing Director of the fun karting facility at The Karting Arena. Through her hard work and determination, Claire has killed and shaken things up in the lifestyle and motorsports industry proving that we can do anything men can do. We were curious to find out what really drives this beautiful go-getter so we sat down for a quick chat after going on a few rounds at the circuit.
Congratulations Claire on the opening of The Karting Arena! How do you feel now that it’s finally up and running?
It’s been a journey to get here and we’ve got a great team from the get go who have grown with us. We’ve had so much support and enthusiasm from the community and public, so it’s great to be able to share what we love the most with others around us so they too can experience what karting is about.
How happy are you to be teaming up with your beau, Yuey Tan for The Karting Arena?
There is an assumption that couples should never work together, as it is hard to navigate back and forth between the relationship and the professional level. Contrary to that, we both have our own roles and we don’t interfere with each others decision making, but we have a very open communication system if one or the other has a suggestion that may work better. We don’t allow business matters to affect our personal time, and we are able to split matters into objective or subjective categories.
What’s the toughest hurdle leading up to the opening of The Karting Arena?
With electric karts, there is a lot of technology and development that is required to maximise the experience for the karter. We built the 500m circuit based on the laws that govern the speeds. People with no driving/bike license can kart at 30km/hr and those that have proof of a licence can kart at 50km/h. We are constantly looking at ways to develop the Birel karts with the manufactures providing feedback.
What’s the best memory do you have of a race?
There are two memories this year. In March my first race of the year in the Malaysia F1 Support race, The Malaysian championship Series where I stood 2nd on the F1 podium for the first time out of 50 cars on circuit, it was really the only time during the whole weekend that i was allowed to be emotional . The second was when Yuey was top of the table mid way through his season this year and he earned the chance to race on the famed Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium, I was so proud of his ultimate dream to race there one day in the Porsche Carrera Cup.
Looking back, how did you first get into racing?
To be honest, it wasn’t something I ever dreamed about or expected. I just knew that in your 30’s it gets harder to be part of a sport and be competitive. The opportunity arose and I put together a proposal and hunted for sponsorship. It has been life changing on all levels of my life. If you told me this 5 years ago I would have looked at you funny!
Can you describe the excitement of being out on the tracks?
The strangest thing I’ve learnt is that racing it self is about being completely emotionless. Drivers don’t drive based on emotion rather on facts, data, and seat time (experience). You can only think about moving forward on any situation, but the only time I was allowed to get excited was when I was on the podium. The excitement is rather much more of a adrenaline rush of pushing the cars boundaries to the limit.
How did you set about following that path into racing? Were there any challenges?
Racing is pretty much about experience and seat time, so you can handle the 101 different situations that can occur on circuit. Its been a year and a half and I’ve had a bout 11 race starts, which on the motorsport scene, I am still inexperienced, so the challenge that any driver will receive is in relation to getting sponsorship to pay for your seat time. It’s very much about the business side of things in racing, because I am used as a marketing tool for companies to show case their brand, logos etc.
What was your first car?
My first ever car on the road was a Honda hatchback EK9 when I was living in Australia.
Do you get speeding tickets?
No I had a clean sheet, in fact because its now part of my career I am much more of an over engineered daily driver because on circuit we have so many things going on at one time, such as track rules, knowing what turn is coming up, where we have to break, using our peripherals for who is around us, looking out for flags, debris.
Have you ever beaten Yuey in a race before?
I’ve beaten Yuey probably once in a karting race. I’ve never been in a same race as Yuey as we race in different series, but I have tested on circuit with him at the same time.
We know you’re big on fitness. What’s your workout regime like?
I get bored of doing repetitive workouts so I run shorter distance of up to 5km, I picked up tennis this year as its great hand and eye coordination, and recently purchased a road bike. I frequent the gym at least 3 times a week for short high intensity sessions. Of course I kart on our circuit and that is a really good workout.
What are some of your favourite spots to hang out at in Singapore?
Recently, I’ve been slightly out of sync of the latest places, but I eat a lot at Valentino’s restaurant which is next to our Bukit Timah circuit. It has authentic Italian cuisine and its a family run business. Cafés I head to include Choupinette, great Eggs Benedict and Picotin Express hidden in the Bukit Timah Hills, its such a lovely played back location.
Do you have any advice for young girls who’d like to pursue racing?
I think, start with karting, as it is the most basic and purest form of racing and even play racing games and simulators as you can learn a lot about racing lines and braking. There are some great providers out there who can start them karting, whether it be in Singapore or Malaysia. Our Singapore Motor sport Association should be able to head you in the right direction should they want to attain their karting or race car licence.
Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
Next year I want to be the first female to race on the Singapore Marina Bay circuit in one of the series before the Formula One race. Its a small ambition which will be interesting to try and achieve. It would be great to get some local companies on board to help me achieve the first dream I’d have in my racing career. We’d like to eventually expand and find more land to open up.
Thanks so much for your insight Claire! You’re a real inspiration to all us Sassy Girls! Special thanks to the vivacious Shamsydar Ani Photography for the awesome images of Claire!