Conducted by Olivia Eyeson, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri
Back in March 2021, the acclaimed Formula Woman competition returned after a 17-year hiatus. Some 1000 women applied with the hopes of getting the rare opportunity to race a McLaren 570s GT4 in the 2022 GT Cup, and launching their motorsport careers. The selection process took place in both the UK and Sweden, with the top 11 finalists taking part in an Ice Driving shoot-out. Of these, there were 6 winners: 4 drivers and 2 reserve drivers.
And one of the winners, Jodie Sloss is an exciting talent who has proven her speed and ability through the Formula Woman competition, and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Alongside her career, she wants to help other women get into the industry and help give them opportunities. I was fortunate enough to speak to Jodie about the importance of the competition, and how it has supported her racing career.
You’ve talked about growing up on the rural West coast of Scotland. Do you feel that, where you grew up stopped you from discovering your love for motorsport sooner?
“I grew up and still live on a croft, so it's quiet. I was brought up as a horse rider, and enjoyed doing that professionally until an accident, so when I saw Formula Woman, I thought why not. I don’t think it was as much that there weren’t tracks nearby, but more that I didn’t think it was possible to be a driver, as it wasn’t normal to see female role models in motorsport. A fun fact about me is that Susie Wolff is also from Oban, so she’s an inspiration for me and boosted my confidence.”
You started your racing career on horses. What are the skills and lessons you carried from those experiences to motorsport?
“It’s quite common that equestrians go into motorsport. In horse riding, I’m dealing with a live animal, so there's lots of adrenaline, but I have to be level-headed, which is important in motorsport.”
You said you found Formula Woman on the Internet. What were your thoughts when you applied, and did you expect to have a natural flair for racing?
“The whole experience is still a shock for me. I was the least experienced of all the winners, and my first time on track was in February this year. I've always had an interest in race and drift cars, so I thought I may as well try to apply. We were tested on mental performance, media, fitness, on track driving ability and karting. Before this, I’d only gone karting with my family. When I saw that I was one of the finalists, I knew it was serious. With my natural abilities behind the wheel being highly noticed and talked upon.”
What was the lifestyle change from being a marketer to a race car driver?
“My life completely flipped once I won the competition. After being announced, my manager said I need to see you next Tuesday, that's when it all changed. I’m so passionate about racing, so no matter how successful I was in my previous career, I dropped everything. I’m focusing on becoming the best race car driver I can be, whilst working with Formula Woman.”
How were your experiences in Formula Woman, and how would you describe the importance of the competition for female representation in motorsport?
“Winning was the most amazing experience, as I had people believing in me and giving me opportunities to get in a car without any money behind me, or a family with a motorsport background. It’s a chance for other girls like me to be given such experiences.”
You’ve gone through this life-changing experience with three of your teammates. How is your relationship with them?
“We love each other, and it's so cool to have their encouragement. We are working together, and we are proud to be role models. Erika, who I am in the car with, is from Canada, and we are the best of friends. We support each other, and she’s always there when I need support.”
Most drivers start karting very young, around the ages of 5 to 10. Do you feel you are at a disadvantage due to you starting your career later?
“It’s a difficult question, as before, I’d always thought that it was too late to begin racing, but people have different abilities. As long as you take advantage of opportunities, then I don't think it's a disadvantage. I’m a very coachable, focused, and a determined, fast learner, and I’m constantly improving, so it didn’t really affect me that much.”
This is only the start of a long career. What can you tell us about your plans for the future?
“Formula Woman and I have big visions for the future. For Formula Woman, the main goal for the next four or five years is to have a completely female team, from drivers to mechanics at Le Mans. This would be historic! For me, I’m looking to move to GT3 and focus on endurance racing. I’d love to do 24 Hours of Nürburgring, 24 hours of Spa and DTM. I also anticipate racing endurance races such as the 24 Hours of Dubai.”
There will be many aspiring female drivers reading this. What word of advice would you give?
“I would say to have self-belief and be realistic. Just have a go, as you're not going to know if you don’t try. It is difficult to get into a male-dominated field, but keep trying. It's great to be driving diversity onto the grid.”
Despite Sloss only beginning her career recently, it is looking to be an exciting and successful one.