A panning shot of Chris Forsberg captured by Cheryl Tay at Formula Drift USA Long Beach
Singapore’s only female full-time motoring and motorsports photojournalist
Photo Credit: Zurina Bryant Photography
Independent automotive consultant and prominent local motorsports personality Cheryl Tay is uniquely passionate about all things cars and motorsports. She also has a strong passion to share her interest and knowledge, hence having a dream to become the ‘Oprah Winfrey of cars and motorsports’ and create a multimedia platform for her sharing.
A female in a male-dominated world, Cheryl Tay is Singapore’s only female full-time motoring journalist and motorsports blogger and she regularly writes for prominent titles in Singapore, Asia and internationally. (See full list of titles that Cheryl Tay writes for here.)
Through her line of work, she has rubbed shoulders with world champion drivers such as Mika Hakkinen and Sebastian Vettel, as well as other key personalities of the motoring world including car designers, race engineers, team principals and CEOs of car manufacturers.
A simple collage of some Formula 1 drivers that Cheryl Tay has interviewed before
Cheryl Tay reviews new cars, checks out modified cars, runs the halls of international motor shows, breathes in the tyre dust from karting to drifting to circuit racing to Formula 1 and juggles between her pen, her laptop and her camera to share through her photos and words.
A panning shot of Chris Forsberg captured by Cheryl Tay at Formula Drift USA Long Beach
With an aim to reach out to a greater motoring audience (especially to get more ladies into the driver’s seat), Cheryl Tay actively engages in initiatives to educate the public about motoring and motorsports the right way. For example, she created Ladies’ Night @Kartright, an introductory karting course for females only, and was also the captain and founder of Singapore’s only all-female karting team in 2011.
Cheryl founded and headed Singapore’s only all-female karting team in 2011
In pursuit of her vision to increase the awareness and interest of cars and motorsports, her hard work was recognised and in 2011 she became the first and only Singaporean to be inducted into the prestigious Guild of Motoring Writers (UK). She was also invited to become a member of the British Women Racing Driver Club.
Cheryl Tay travels abroad frequently for international test drives, motorsports events as well as for motor races from Formula 1 in Singapore to World Karting Series in Italy to MotoGP in UK. She has also attended various driver training programmes like the Michelin Pilot Experience and Audi Sportscar Experience.
Recognised as someone of influence in the industry, Cheryl’s expertise is often consulted and she has worked with several authorities such as Singapore Sports Council, People’s Association, Singapore Motor Sports Association, as well as private companies on their automotive initiatives.
Cheryl Tay enjoys giving talks to public audiences and have done so. Her appointment in 2012 as F1 in Schools ambassador provided her with an additional platform to reach out to youths.
Giving a talk at SJI International on motorsports during morning assembly
Another part of her public sharing is her weekly motoring segment on 883JIA FM, Singapore’s only bilingual radio station, where she gives valuable tips on car maintenance to listeners during morning rush hour.
Her opinions are respected and she has been interviewed internationally and locally in newspapers, magazines, over national radio as well as on broadcast channels such as ESPN STAR Sports and Channel NewsAsia.
On the set of BlogTV.sg, a talk show-style programme on Channel NewsAsia
Strangely, no one in Cheryl Tay’s family has a passion for cars and motorsports. Her automotive interest grew exponentially when she attained her driving licence at the age of 18 and found like-minded friends in the Nanyang Technological University Motoring Club.
Always had an interest in cars and motorsports from a young age
Having completed internships with Mitsubishi Motors and Volkswagen in Singapore, Cheryl has a good sense of understanding from the carmaker’s perspective. Her experience as a former race queen also helps her to see things differently.
Besides cars and motorsports, Cheryl Tay also writes about sports, lifestyle, technology, entertainment , travel and weddings.
A shot taken by Cheryl at 5.47am at Las Vegas that was used for some of her travel features
Born and bred in Singapore, Cheryl Tay holds a Bachelor degree in Business (Marketing & Entrepreneurship) from Nanyang Technological University.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Who is Cheryl Tay?
Cheryl Tay: I’m not the Miss Singapore-Universe 2005 winner Cheryl Tay; neither am I the SingTel Grid Girl 2008 first runner-up Cheryl Tay. I’m Cheryl Tay, the girl who likes cars and motorsports.
Question: What car do you drive?
Cheryl Tay: This is a question I get quite often. I drive a simple Mitsubishi Lancer GLX 1.6 (A), but I do get to test drive different cars of various makes and models as part of work.
Question: Do you race?
Cheryl Tay: I’ve taken part in friendly go-kart club races and also raced with my all-female karting team in the 2011 OCBC Corporate Karting Challenge (a four-hour kart endurance race. I was part of an all-female karting team again for a four-hour endurance race in January 2013. Unfortunately, I do not have the luxury of being able to indulge more in motor racing. If I could, I definitely would race more and also be involved in car tuning. (*hint: any sponsors?)
Question: What did you study in school?
Cheryl Tay: I graduated with a Bachelor degree in Business and Entrepreneurship.
Question: How and when did you start to like cars and motorsports?
Cheryl Tay: No one in my family has an interest for cars and motorsports, so the influence was kinda self-developed. My love for cars intensified when I got my driving licence at 18 (yes I couldn’t wait to get it!) and I joined the motoring club at university to meet more like-minded people. I’ve also completed internships with Mitsubishi Motors as well as with Volkswagen Singapore.
Question: What do you like about cars and motorsports?
Cheryl Tay: I love the pure joy of driving and it really makes a difference when you drive a good car. Whenever I’m feeling down, going out for a good drive makes me feel a lot better. As for motorsports, I love watching it because of the thrill and excitement it derives – I get goosebumps just from watching the Singapore Grand Prix commercial on TV! I can’t afford the money to get involved in motorsports, so the closest I can get is writing about it.
Question: How did you start writing?
Cheryl Tay: I was a race queen during my schooling days, having taken part in a contest (which I emerged empty-handed from) and I also worked at a few car events. During my internships with Mitsubishi and Volkswagen, a chief editor from a local car magazine approached me and offered me a column in his magazine. That was in 2007 and my first story was about race queens. I’ve not looked back since.
Question: What is it like being in the motoring journalism industry?
Cheryl Tay: There’s a common misconception that motoring journalists have it all because they are the first to get their hands on new cars. But it’s not all that perfect. There is a huge sense of responsibility required from us when we take a car out for a test drive. And it’s not always fancy cars that we get, we do have our fair share of economical/budget cars. But that’s no issue – in fact, it is more challenging to write about budget cars compared to luxury cars. I mean, how many bad things can you say about a Ferrari/Lamborghini on top of not being able to afford it? In addition, there are certain high-end cars that only selected media get to drive.
Question: How does it feel being a female in a male-oriented industry? Do you feel threatened at all?
Cheryl Tay: I’d like to think that it’s my USP (unique selling point) rather than a disadvantage. I can’t deny that there are certain perks I enjoy and it’s hard not to stand out at times, but to remain in the industry and make progress requires more than just wearing a skirt; it takes a significant level of passion and interest for a start. I think it’s refreshing to have a woman’s voice as opposed to an all-male opinion; there are many female drivers on the roads these days to reach out to!
Question: What are some of the challenges being in a predominantly male-oriented industry?
Cheryl Tay: When I first started out, I faced quite a lot of doubt. (In fact I still do.) There were people who doubted (and still do) that a girl could write about cars and some thought I was just gonna be a flash in the pan. It also didn’t help that youth was on my side. But I’ve since gone on to write more and am not gonna give this up anytime soon – I mean, how often do you get to do something which you really love?
Question: Have you ever faced any form of discrimination before?
Cheryl Tay: Discrimination against female drivers on the roads is common and I’ve experienced it many times, eg. getting bullied on the road. Interestingly, there are other types of discrimination I’ve encountered.
My automotive passion and motorsports interest have actually scared off potential suitors. Some feel overwhelmed because I know more about cars than they do, some have no interest in cars and find it hard to keep up with me and the rest just feel that women should be entirely domesticated and not get involved in boy’s activities.
I once met this guy who disapproved of my automotive passion because he thinks it’s “too guy-ish” and that “there is too much insecurity involved” as I am in a male-dominated industry.
Cars make me happy and motorsports get me excited. I collect diecast model cars, browse the car magazines section in book stores and usually turn to the Sports section of the local papers first. I have no interest in make-up though my favourite colour is pink. But none of these make me any less a girl and I won’t give up this interest just because it’s deemed un-ladylike.
Question: What are the stereotypes of women in the motoring industry?
Cheryl Tay: Females have longed been stereotyped as bad drivers – just ask around, how many guys out there are guilty of exclaiming “Must be a lady driver!” each time they encounter an incident of bad driving behaviour.
I guess one significant factor why women are seen as being inferior drivers to men is because cars are associated with men to begin with. Cars have always been ‘a guy thing’. During my primary school days, I remember McDonalds’ used to have Happy Meals that gave out Hot Wheels toy cars for boys and Barbie dolls for girls.
The question “Do men make better drivers than women?” has been around forever but there never seems to be an answer conclusive or convincing enough. I guess several factors contributed to the existence of this question – women’s general lack of interest in cars, women’s risk-adverse tendencies, less female drivers compared to male and hence less time behind the wheel compared to men.
Question: What are some of your most memorable car-related experiences?
Cheryl Tay: The most expensive car I’ve tried was the Ferrari California. When I got behind the wheel of the R8, I fully understood why people are willing to pay the price for such cars. It’s truly amazing and mind-blowing.
Other than getting to test drive good cars, I’ve had the privilege of going overseas for events like the Michelin Pilot Experience in 2008 where I got to try a Formula Michelin single-seater at Sepang. I’ve also gone on international car launches like the Renault Koleos in Fez, Morocco.
Question: How important is it for a partner to share the same interest?
Cheryl Tay: A significant part of my life involves cars and motorsports, hence it would be helpful if my partner has a certain level of automotive interest. It’s very useful to have someone I can discuss and share with about cars/motorsports, but I wouldn’t say that it is a must for him to be a car nut.
Question: Does a guy with a hot car stand a better chance with you?
Cheryl Tay: Nope, simply because the cars aren’t mine, haha! The hot car will get my attention for sure but I can’t say the same for the owner of that hot car. But it would help if the owner is fully appreciative of his car and its performance. Some that I’ve come across only buy the car because it reeks of status and show-off miles, and are hardly aware of the car’s technical capabilities and prowess.
Question: Future plans?
Cheryl Tay: I took a leap of faith in September 2010 and made a bold move by resigning from my full-time day job to concentrate on my automotive and racing interest. I will carry on writing for as long as I can and spread the love for cars and motorsports as far as I can. I’m very grateful and thankful to all the people who have provided me with valuable opportunities that allowed me to keep pursuing this. In addition, I hope to reach out to more people through my writing, especially the female segment of the automotive industry who have long been sidelined, misunderstood and overlooked. My dream is to create a multimedia platform (think Oprah Winfrey of cars and motorsports) so I can execute my sharing across multiple avenues for maximum reach (ie. newspapers, magazines, websites, talk show, radio segment, books etc).
What They Say
(last updated in May 2010 – to be updated soon!)
“I enjoy reading your columns! Am from the UK, one serious petrolhead country, and I’ve always wanted to bring some of that ‘Clarkson’ humour over here! Have been seeing your name all over the place, in the Straits Times recently and in Auto i where you did an article on females and cars – noticed you interviewed a friend – Maddy Yap! Good stuff, like your humour too (in your blog). Particularly liked, “do couples with common interests..” nice.. My two favourite subjects in one!” – Richard Chee on Facebook Message [30 May '10]
“Hi Cheryl, Congratulations on the Drive Special in this morning’s Straits Times! I counted 3 articles with your by-line! Plus photos! Well done.” – Duff Hughes, photographer [23 May '10]
“You’re quite a legendary lady in the journalism world ~ ! What an honor I met you ~ the master ! All hail master Cheryl!” – Alan Chin Weng Lon, photographer from Malaysia [18 May '10]
“Helloo… Nice pics from FD 2010… saw ur write ups on the FD too.. nice!: )” – Niki Tham on Facebook Message [1 May '10]
“Hi Cheryl. Good to be in contact with you. I like your writing.” – Matthew Marsh, racing driver, on Facebook Message [22 Apr '10]
“Hi Cheryl….I was browsing through one of em community pages, guess it was Torque Spore and came across your profile……noticed all those motorhead communities that your part of…….and this pic of the R8….. ya’r as crazy bout cars like me… Spore is a city I love… I have been there and simply love it…. & the best part, I love the rides you guys have there…. take care. drive safe !!” – Nikhil Ghoshal of India [8 Apr '10]
“Hi Cheryl, Thanks for coming to our event yesterday and thank YOU for the awesome coverage of Daim! We were all really thrilled with the full-page coverage Will forward your article to Daim and his family as well.” – April Moh, Marketing & Corporate Communications Manager, CIMB Group Singapore [4 Mar '10]
“…thank you for being a SMSA member and you are right, the motor sports scene locally does lack the female presence and it is good to see you actively involved and writing about motor sports for Singapore. … I have seen your work and they are good.” – Raymond Cheong, General Manager, Singapore Motor Sports Association [2 Mar '10]
“Amy Barker just emailed me a copy of the Fast Lane articles and I think you have done a wonderful job. Congratulations and thank you so much. It is a great boost to the girls. … Your articles have been very well received by the committee and the webmaster asked if you could send her a high resolution file of the article so that we can share it with other members on our website.” – Georgie Shaw, Guild of Motoring Writers, The Media Society, British Women Racing Drivers’ Club [23 Feb '10]
“nice blog you have. i enjoy reading it.” - Friendstar from MyCarForum.com [14 Feb '10]
“Hi Cheryl, Yes, I saw that article. A good piece … thanks for promoting sports ” – Oon Jin Teik, former CEO of Singapore Sports Council [9 Feb '10] on Go-Karting as a CCA? in The New Paper
“Anyway, welcome Cheryl! I’m a Singaporean too, and have joined DCM a loooong time ago. BTW, I love reading your articles every Wednesday on TNP. Keep up the good job!” – afiqmeister from Drift.com.my forum in his welcome to me at DCM [2 Feb '10]
“I am a car nut and I was amazed to see such an attractive young lady who could write well, so I kept on reading your blog since 2 years back. Also, being pretty and car-centric makes you a fantasy girl for most car guys!” – Michael Tan, Technology Enthusiast, Singapore
“..Now that I have met you ‘live’…there are now more reasons for me to check out your blog… Looking forward to read up your articles soon… The first thing I am going to do now is to bookmark your blog. You have just acquired a new fan.” – Simon Awe, General Manager, Goodyear Singapore Tyres after I met him at Formula Drift Malaysia 2009 [Dec '09]
“here is an article written by Cheryl Tay on Formula Drift and about the Drift scene in general. thank you Cheryl for the scans also for featuring the voices of the drifters in Singapore ‘we need a place to drift!’ ” – Mark Loon, moderator of local drift forum Drift Garage Singapore on Catching Singapore’s Drift in The New Paper [23 Dec '09]
“Cheryl’s passion for cars is simply amazing and her thirst for automotive knowledge is never ending. It’s a genuine pleasure to see her in action taking racing shots, interviewing drivers about what make them tick, or just to chat about cars with her. Passionate journalists like her makes our beloved car scene come alive!” – Gabriel Tan, Guest Blogger for Speedhunters.com
“…Basically it’s about offering a different perspective. It’s nice for the female readers to feel represented and if they want to make an informed decision, they can do so with the confidence of knowing if the car serves her needs which may not be immediately apparent to me. The male readers also stand to benefit from a woman’s perspective and would be interested to know what her thought are on a particular car that they might be thinking of buying for themselves or someone else.” – Sheldon Trollope, Contributing Editor for TopGear Singapore on female motoring writers [14 Dec '09]
“Thanks for the writeup in the mag.. Really appreciate it.. Thanks!” – Jansen Tan, local drift driver [2 Dec '09]
“Wow, I didn’t realise you are quite a fan of motorsports. It’s refreshing to know because part of the reason I write intensively on it, especially F1, is to get more people interested in it. I am impressed with your passion for motorsport and cars.” - Ian de Cotta, Motorsports Correspondent for TODAY and author of Singapore Grand Prix: 50 years in the making [Nov '09]
“I love the article .. Thank u so much ..”
“Nice article. You always write well!”
- Parents of promising local kart racer Daim Hishammudin on Touched By A Champion in The New Paper [11 Nov '09]
“Cheryl. Thanks for the feature on newpaper today. On behalf of the grassroots drifting community. We thank you. ; – )” - Mark Loon, moderator of local drift forum Drift Garage Singapore on A Regular Sideshow in The New Paper [14 Oct '09]
“Yes…it’s so great….thanks to you….didn’t expect a huge story and I love it…thanks once again… …this is my 2 page ticket to sponsors…haha…thanks” – Suriya Bala Kerisnan Thevar, Formula BMW Pacific driver on A La Kart in The New Paper [15 Jan '09]
Did You Know?
10 Facts & Figures About Cheryl Tay That You Might Not Already Know
1. Cheryl achieved her First Solo award in 2003 (at the age of 16+) when she flew a Piper Warrior II on her own. Prior to that, she had clocked 19.6 hours in the air after successfully completing the Singapore Youth Flying Club Basic Flying Course Phase II. She was given the opportunity to progress to the next stage and achieve her Private Pilot’s Licence (even before she was eligible for a driving licence), but was stopped by her father who feels that women shouldn’t over-indulge in male activities. (Right…)
2. Cheryl was once nearly overweight and had to deal with the societal stereotypes of horizontally-challenged people. Read about her harrowing weight loss battle here.
3. Back in her schooling days, Cheryl represented the school in badminton (1999-2002) as well as cross-country (2003-2004). She was part of the badminton champion team in secondary school when they won the East Zone as well as National ‘B’ divisional championship titles.
4. Cheryl tried her hand at modelling before and has done fashion shoots, catwalk shows, TV appearances, as well as hosting.
5. Cheryl was a race queen before; having taken part in a race queen search too.
6. Cheryl does not know how to put make-up.
7. Cheryl has driven a single-seater before at the Michelin Pilot Experience 2008, where she tried the equivalent of a Formula Renault car.
8. Cheryl is scared of fish.
9. Cheryl’s family is quite Japanese-influenced – her parents met each other there (dad was there to work, mum was pursuing tertiary education) and her grandfather is the principal of a local Japanese school.
10. Cheryl cannot watch horror movies.