Claire, you hold a very impressive record as the only female race car driver in Singapore. How did you get started?
People have always known me as a sports person, and I started off in extreme sports and presenting for Red Bull TV, so on the entertainment side of Motorsport, I wasn’t a stranger. I had an opportunity to commentate for the National Karting series there called the Singapore Karting Championship and to be able to commentate you have to be involved in the sport, know the people and that started my karting journey. I joined local leagues, started getting on to the podium and winning so the slightly naive idea was planted.
I went out and found sponsors in 3 months, fund a team who would coach me, hit testing and simulator training and the rest is history!
Tell us about The Karting Arena, Claire.
It’s Singapore’s only Electric fun karting circuit started in 2015, centrally located and we’re in the business of selling fun from anyone of the age 9 years old and up. It never gets old for me and I love how it brings out the best in individuals and teammates. It’s fuss-free, fume-free and electric is the future. Added on from our racing simulators, we’ve got a new addition of Daytona arcade-style racing. One time is never enough.
When it comes to marketing for The Karting Arena, what have your strategies been?
Having previously owned a previous petrol kart track for more serious and competitive karting, we’ve always wanted to share our passion for motorsport with low barriers of entry. We decided that the key to learning anything is FUN, so we found somewhere where we could build a circuit where people didn’t feel intimidated, that parent’s felt safe to let their kids have their birthday parties at and that we could let everyone and anyone enjoy karting. We realised it wasn’t just a certain type of demographic that could love racing, so we made it an entertainment venue where we could still get our message across.
We believe people come back because we have a story to tell both coming from motorsport and they were able to learn, race with us and most importantly leave with a smile on their face, with a new skill set they picked up.
Claire, between marketing and branding, which one of these to you is more important – the one thing that has kept you in ‘business’?
I think if you can market yourself well and put yourself out there, the brand will come through. Our brand is simple because we didn’t think hard about it, it was two people who loved motorsport and wanted everyone to get an opportunity.
Karting doesn’t get as recognised as many other homegrown brands because it isn’t as sexy, but we’ve had our fair share of start-up struggles and success for us has been in the marketing that has kept us going. You can keep spinning different stories and plans for different markets and that’s the fun but an equally exhausting part.
I feel that most days we are a marketing company first and kart track second. Because we are an authentic, homegrown brand that started from scratch, we don’t have to make people believe what our kart track is about.
You are the commentator behind Singapore GP and a handful of other motorsports competitions. As we know, motorsports are predominantly male-dominated. What are some of the perks and challenges (if any) you face, Claire?
Well for starters, job openings are far and few, but that also means there are very few other females who are on the scene in Asia and worldwide as its so niche. To be able to commentate and present internationally has been a pleasure and some of my closest friends are from the same industry as we spend a smooch time like a travelling circus.
I choose to work overseas because I love it that much, but I have my 5 months old and 2 years old and I wouldn’t change it for anything. Living out a suitcase for 9 months of a year makes some realise how little I really do need in my daily life, though my husband and myself agree we still can’t live without sports cars, haha.
What are some of your best memories as a race car driver?
It has to be standing on the podium at the Malaysian F1 support race in my first podium placing, 2nd out of 48 cars. It was such an amazing moment, everything went right that day. Also racing in an endurance race with my husband twice and without a doubt having my kids and family there is irreplaceable. We remind ourselves constantly to live in the moment so we can look back and never regret.
Will car racing be something you encourage girls to pursue?
Racing is for guys and girls. I never was exposed as a child to racing, neither had I the opportunity, so it is about giving or receiving the opportunity to grow the interest. Without a doubt, it’s a sport for everyone, as it teaches the absolute best in values and about yourself.
Any parting words, Claire?
In life, sometimes, you’ve got to go slower to go faster; focus on what you can control – YOU. All else are factors you can’t control, so why bother with it.