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Woman Spotlight Wednesday: Reema Juffali

Written by Jenny Clynes, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri

Women have played an influential role throughout the history of motor racing. Many have taken to the wheels of motorsport machines, while numerous figures have worked tirelessly on the sidelines in various roles, shaping the motor racing world to the present day. Woman Spotlight Wednesday aims to take a look at the tales of these superwomen, who have surpassed various hurdles to reach where they are today.

Today’s article dives into the story of a wildcard figure, taking part in the season opener of the 2024 F1 Academy Season. 

Reema Juffali is a 32-year-old Saudi Arabian racing driver who has been announced as the F1 Academy wildcard entrant, and is set to take part in the first round of the 2024 F1 Academy season in her hometown, Jeddah. 

The road to this point in her career has been one filled with many obstacles standing in her way, but Juffali has proven to be a true inspiration to women and girls across the world. 

Image Credit - Reema Juffali on X

It was not until Reema Juffali moved away from her home in Saudi Arabia to attend Northeastern University that she heard of motorsport. She initially fell in love with Formula One, but it was her first experience of watching the iconic 24 Hours of Le Mans that she decided to pursue a career in motorsport. 

This was an immense decision, considering Juffali's own country did not allow women to drive. She obtained her driver's license in 2010, after completing her test in the US. It was then, as a graduation present to herself, Reema attended a three-day racing school experience in Florida driving a road car around a track for the first time. 

However, in the following years, Reema struggled to find a way into the racing world, and her job took up most of her spare time. She was about to give up on her dream, when in 2017, she met Susie Wolff, who reminded her to follow her passion in life. 

Wolff gave her some advice about where to go and who to talk to, and finally, Reema got her racing license in September 2017, just after the success of the Women to Drive Movement in Saudi Arabia which ended the ban on women driving in the country. 

This meant Juffali was much older than most racing drivers when she debuted, however, she managed to take this in her stride. 

In October 2018, Juffali debuted her racing career, competing in both the TRD 86 Cup and the MRF Challenge, and her major career victories started in December 2018. 

In April 2019, she represented Saudi Arabia in the F4 British Championship where she managed to score points. In November that year, Reema became the first Saudi Arabian woman to compete in an international racing competition in Saudi Arabia, taking part in the first round of the 2019-20 Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy as a guest driver in Riyadh. 

In 2020, she went on to compete in the Formula 4 UAE championship, and in 2021, the GB3 championship, racing at some of the most renowned international circuits including Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps. 

Image Credit - Reema Juffali on X

In 2022, Reema decided to help more people from Saudi Arabia get into motorsport, and founded her own team called Theeba Motorsport, which had the primary aim to improve Saudi Arabian interest in competitive motorsport by creating both internship and apprenticeship opportunities within the field. 

The team competes in the Pro-Am of the International GT Open, and in the same year it was founded, the team came second in the 2022 International GT Open Pro-Am. The long term goal of Theeba Motorsport is to become the first Saudi Arabian team to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

To add to Juffali’s long list of achievements, she made history in 2023 when she became the first female racing driver to achieve a pole position in the sprint cup in the GT World Challenge Europe, and she secured a bronze cup at the 24 Hours of Spa race. 

Overall, Juffali has made history a number of times, becoming the first ever female Saudi Arabian racing driver, the first ever Saudi woman to have a racing license, the first ever saudi woman to take part in an international racing competition in Saudi Arabia, and the first Saudi woman to win an international motor race. 

Reema was also included in the BBC’s 100 Women List which contains 100 inspiring women from across the globe. 

Image Credits - Reema Juffali on X

In February 2024, F1 Academy announced Reema Juffali as the wild card entry for the first round of the 2024 F1 Academy Racing Series. She is set to compete in her hometown of Jeddah during the Formula One Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, adding another spectacular achievement to her list. 

Reema Juffali is nothing short of an inspiration, for both men and women in Saudi Arabia to break into racing, an inspiration to Saudi women to compete in sports, and an inspiration to everyone that it is never too late to pursue your dreams.


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