Pursuing your dreams: Simona de Silvestro explains her need for speed

Meet the female racing car driver, chasing her dreams with speed.

With the nickname ‘Iron Maiden’, Simona de Silvestro has broken through gender stereotypes to pursue her dreams with flying colours.

The 28-year-old is a professional race car driver with Nissan Motorsport, securing a contract to drive in the Australian Supercars Championship in 2017. Over the years, she’s beaten some of the fastest drivers around the world.

Simona is a great example of a woman going after what matters to her in life, despite the fact that it’s brought her into a world dominated by men.

She’s the first to admit there’s not many females in professional motorsport, though that hasn’t deterred her in any way. “I’ve never concerned myself with being one of the only women behind the wheel. I love what I’m doing, and focus on proving myself again and again,” de Silvestro says.

"As a woman, you’ve got to prove yourself a bit more than the men in this male-dominated sport."

As a woman, you’ve got to prove yourself a bit more than the men in this male-dominated sport, she admits. “Especially when you come into new categories. People want to see what you can do in the race car first. Whereas if a guy is fast in another category, he’s considered fast in all categories,” she says.

Inspired by racing figures early on

This racing legend grew up around cars. Her father owned a car dealership, which de Silvestro frequented as a young girl. She also watched Formula One on television with her father on weekends.

Being the only female taking part in sport has never phased de Silvestro. She joined the soccer team at a young age, unperturbed by the lack of other females playing the sport. Tennis was also a big part of her life when she was young.

But when her father sat her in a go cart at six years of age, she knew she was destined for the race track. “I cried on the way home because my legs were too short to reach the pedals, so my father bought me a go cart built for younger kids. I was hooked,” she says.

“We spent so much time at the race track as a family. I was so lucky that my parents were so supportive of me.”

Pursuing her dreams in the US

She had reached the top of her game in Switzerland by 17, relocating to the United States to pursue her dream of being a professional race car driver. Her career has since taken her all over the world.

“My parents led me to believe that I could do anything I wanted.”  

“My parents led me to believe that I could do anything I wanted. However, I don’t think they expected me to end up being a professional race car driver.

“In racing, you’ve got to prove yourself again and again. If you start complaining that you’re two seconds off, then you fall into the cliché of being a woman. I just keep pushing myself to achieve the results. The truth is that it’s tough to be at the top in any job you undertake.”

The determined racer received second degree burns on her hands in a crash during practice for the Indianapolis 500 in May 2011. The crash, which sent her car sailing into the catch fence before landing and flipping on its left tyres, was caused by a mechanical failure.

Battered and bruised, she initially contemplated walking away from racing, but her mother reminded her how happy her chosen career made her, prompting her to return to racing once recovered.

Now back on the track, the future is certainly bright for de Silvestro. Her unwavering drive and determination to overcome difficult times and smash gender stereotypes, has seen her continue to pursue her dreams.

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*Steadfast has been proud sponsors of the Nissan motorsport team since 2013, and understands the complex nature of providing insurance for those who have a need for speed. So if you need an insurance adviser you can trust with the strength of a national network, speak to a Steadfast insurance broker today.

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