I really like this article of us in TODAY so much that I have to put the text here so all of you lovely readers and supporters can read it, in case you didn’t catch a copy of the paper…
I gave Alywin the reporter a lift in my pink floral CHERYL TAY Mitsubishi Lancer and he couldn’t help but notice the Hello Kitty air freshener and cup holder in my car. Thank goodness he didn’t mention the pink flowers on my car..
Cheryl Tay and gang are typical girls —except for their rabid obsession with racing
assistant sports editor
SINGAPORE — She has a Hello Kitty air freshener in her car.
That was the first thing that struck me when I sat in Cheryl Tay’s Mitsubishi Lancer as she gave me a ride back to the office.
The appearance of such a “girly” object would have been innocuous but for the fact that Tay, 24, is the team captain and founder of CTMC2! Racing, an all-female karting team who intend to give the men a run for their money on Saturday during the qualifying race for the OCBC Corporate Karting Challenge at Kartright Speedway.
CTMC2! Racing is the only all-women outfit in the 30-team field.
Tay is the youngest in her team and her exposure to the motor-racing scene is nothing short of impressive. A freelance writer by profession, she pens car and motoring event reviews exclusively, having travelled the world to interview the likes of Red Bull’s Mark Webber and McLaren’s Jenson Button.
For a woman so passionate about a sport that is male-dominated, associations with being a “tomboy” are inevitable.
But Tay and her bunch of hardcore motorsports enthusiasts are anything but that.
When Lemna Parvini Sani, 28, took off her helmet at the end of their practice session, what struck me was her immaculate makeup. There was no mascara running down her cheeks, Sani looked every bit a Persian princess.
Michelle Kuek, 31, is the pixie of the group. The petite real estate consultant has an endearing smile and speaks with an infectious eagerness that makes one sit up and listen.
Tay, who never leaves home without a pink item, has modelled part-time and has even done race queen gigs at motoring events.
When asked if karting made them any more masculine, Kuek quickly replies with a laugh: “Not more masculine. Only more muscles!”
It was hard not to notice their eagerness and how their eyes lit up when speaking of their favourite past time.
For Doris Suresh, racing is in her blood. She was born into a family with racing roots ,and her love for the sport began in the late’90s when she rode in her father’s go-kart.
“My father was a champion racer in motorbikes, go-karting and saloon cars, while my brother is a champion racer in go-karts and saloon car sprint racing,” she said.
Nazilah Abdul Rahim, 29, is the smallest in the team but her size is certainly not an indication of her obsession with motorsports. Nazilah owns two motorcycles, occasionally drives her parents’ Hyundai Getz and Mazda 3, and has driven all-terrain vehicles and done dirt-biking.
The group explained that they were not out to prove a point or to denounce gender stereotypes, rather, they simply loved what racing brings them.
Goh May San, 25, said: “It feels good when we better our timings, when we negotiate the sharp bends. I just love being competitive.”
Kuek added: “I like the adrenaline rush. Also, it makes one sharper on the road.”
Tay and gang are really dedicated to their sport. These women are ready to blow their money for an hour on the track, getting sweaty in their race suits.
The cost of their one-hour practice session was a whopping S$1,800 — a package which includes 10 race karts and exclusive use of the track.
It is an expensive hobby by any standards.
“One of the factors that limits our practice sessions is the cost,” said Kuek.
But, Tay does not enforce compulsory practice sessions. Rather, she urges her team to train as often as their wallets allow.
But when asked if the group would continue pursuing their passion in kart racing despite the exorbitant costs, the answer was an unanimous “Yes!”.
Tay believes there are many women out there who are interested in motorsports and her vision is to create an environment for them to learn more.
“Women like to do things together, we go shopping together, we even go to the toilet together! So I thought I’d create something where females can seek comfort in being amidst their own gender.”
Despite having only gone through two“official” training sessions where the entire team had the track to themselves, the women feel confident of trumping the men in Saturday’s four-hour endurance race, which marks the team’s first foray into the competitive scene and they don’t seem the least bit daunted.
Said Goh: “We might even have an advantage because we’re lighter than the men!”
Tay believes the track is a level playing field. “On the track we are all equals and I believe the team has what it takes to put up a good fight against the men.” she said.
Let the men be advised: Don’t be fooled by the Hello Kitty air freshener.
- They love racing because …
Cheryl Tay: “Racing stimulates the mind, thrills the senses and stretches my limits.”
Doris Suresh: “It runs in my family, must be in my blood.”
Goh May San: “It’s like the power of speed is in my hands.”
Lemna Parvini Sani: “I love finding ways to train mindpower and push limitations.”
Michelle Kuek: “Persistence, perseverance and pursuit to the finish line.”
Nazilah Abdul Rahim: “The feeling of being close to the ground thrills me a lot.”