BRSCC CHATS WITH… DAWN BOYD
The next interview in our BRSCC Chats With… series sees us in conversation with Dawn Boyd, someone who knows what it’s like to be on both sides of the cockpit as a driver and a marshal. Having competed in saloon cars for the majority of her career, Dawn currently races in the Teekay Couplings Production GTi Championship and is awaiting her second season of racing at the wheel of her Volkswagen Golf GTi which sports the BMMC logo on the bonnet and a striking orange and silver livery in support of her fellow Orange Army members. Let’s find out more about what she loves the most about both racing and marshalling!
What was your earliest memory of motorsport?
Probably watching F1 or a bit of rallying on “Grandstand” on TV on a Saturday back in the ’80s (yes I’m that old!), although I thought no more of it at the time.
Who or what inspired you to get interested
I responded to an advert in the paper for “women drivers wanted” back in 2003 little did I know what I was getting myself into – that was 17 years ago! I wholly and totally blame Tim Harvey and Graeme Glew and their team for my empty bank account! If they hadn’t come up with the idea of Formula Woman then the thought would never have entered my head – I assumed it was nothing I would ever be able to do, having no inkling that it was even possible.
Who is your motorsport hero?
Several names come to mind from the old racing days like Senna and Stirling Moss etc which I look back on now with utmost respect and admiration, but back then, honestly, I wasn’t bothered much, so I have to say that the more recent drivers like Jason Plato and the touring car drivers are my ‘heroes’. I would love to take a lap or two with Plato.
How would you describe your first experience of taking part in motorsport?
That this wasn’t as easy as I thought it was! Although I was better at it than many, which was a boost. I drove a Caterham at the Top Gear track at Dunsfold Park. It was the training provided with Formula Woman. I was very nervous, fearful to mess it up and felt I didn’t give it my best shot.
What memories do you have of your first race weekend?
Nerves, nerves, and more nerves. During the Formula Woman training, the elimination process was to get to boot camp, the final 100 out of over 4000. I was chosen and I thought “OMG”! I got the email saying I was through to boot camp while still at work and they soon all knew about it! In November 2016, 62 out of that chosen 100 girls all attended their first race weekend, with an added bonus of if you win a race you get straight through to the final 16 racers for the series. The venue was Pembrey (not exactly the glamourous race track and paddock I had imagined!). We took over a whole chunk of the paddock and all the Caterhams were lined up in a huge marquee. We had two races, as there was so many of us we were split into groups. I was still in “be careful, bring the car home” mode and I was left behind by the more determined ladies, but thoroughly enjoyed it, learning all the time and gaining race craft. While we watched the other half of the racers, I got my first encounter with marshals, and they were keen to know about this new bunch of drivers. We are ALL girls out for the first time, we said. ”What? ALL girls!? Oh, they’ll be hanging their handbag on the gear stick and adjusting the mirror putting makeup on, won’t they!” That said, they were soon quite impressed. We also made it into the Guinness Book of Records, printed in the 2008 book, which I have kept, for the most ladies all in their first motorsport event.
What is one race that you will always remember?
Oh, I remember lots, if not all of them especially if it was particularly exciting, fun or challenging! Some I remember because they were great, others I remember for disappointing crashes.
Several races I had in the Golf GTI were seemingly always sharing the same tarmac with Jamie Butcher (Andy’s son) over the 2009 and 2010 seasons I think. We exchanged places many times, but never traded paint. We were often on the podium together, just different places. One particular race we were running in 3rd and 4th in class and we swapped places a few times. Finally, I got ahead into 4th and hung on for a few laps whilst Jamie tried every which way to get around me, then on the final lap he took a lunge into the Esses and he was through! Cleanly as always. Now our life situations have changed we are often together on the roads now too and we still play out race scenarios, like who gets there first or which order we are on the motorway.
What do you love most about what you do in motorsport?
It’s the excitement as soon as you arrive at a circuit it feels like home, the smell of fuel, the noise, the nerves, the racing, watching, marshalling or driving, I just love it. I enjoy everything about racing. Gaining race confidence every lap seems to be my way of racing.. so qualifying is never great, but great races often follow. The motorsport world is one huge travelling family, it’s usually a happy place with everyone showing off their machinery and enjoying racing.
How can someone get involved as a driver within the BRSCC?
There are several championships that offer arrive and drive, or there’s always marshalling.. get yourself on the bank and see the Armco from the other side, it’s a real eye-opener!
Which driver would you love to be a teammate to and why?
I would have to say Jason Plato. I think he is a cheeky chap and a down to earth guy who just likes to drive fast. He’s entertaining and a great driver who doesn’t just assume he will win, he fights for every race. He’s local to us and I would love to join him in a team.
If you could drive any race car and circuit combo in the world, what would it be and why?
I love Spa Francorchamps, it’s such a beautiful, long, fast and challenging, drivers circuit. I think that would be my choice – and the car? I don’t think mine would be a race car, my favourite car is an Aston Martin DB9.
What would you class as your proudest achievement in motorsport?
I’m always proud whenever I’m out racing. Quite often I’m the only girl on the grid and sometimes even the paddock. I know I am privileged to be able to race and relish every moment. If my Dad was still here I hope he would be proud of his little girl. I think my proudest moment was a race win at Thruxton and seeing the team and friends hanging over the pit wall screaming at me punching the air. That moment was captured on camera and it’s my favourite race photo.
What do you enjoy most about racing in your BRSCC championship?
The Teekay Couplings Production GTI are a small friendly group and everyone wants you to succeed.. ok the winners want to win, yes, but there’s always encouragement and a friendly paddock. Plus, if there’s ever any issue with the car, there’s lots of help on offer.
Describe your driving style in three words
Smooth, progressive, determined
What are your plans for the 2020 season and beyond?
In 2019, my boyfriend built me a race car, from scratch, I even helped with a spanner once or twice! We created our own team – B42’s Motorsport, B for Boyd and Butcher and 42 has always been my race number (as it’s the answer to life, the universe and everything). As I am also a marshal, we decided to colour code the team and the car to support and promote the marshals, as they don’t get much recognition for the voluntary work they do. We have created a support network and are providing donated gifts and refreshments to all marshals at all of our races, and run a “support club” for marshals who purchase a team sticker each season and hold prize draws for them to win donated gifts and merchandise. We had planned to continue this support race car project for 2010 and for as long as we get support to do so. This season we had Draper Tools all lined up as a supporter with some great prizes and Eco Trailers did us a great deal on a fantastic trailer which we have had liveried with a giant ‘Buster’ sticker. You can get your sticker or get involved at www.dawnontrack.co.uk. It’s disappointing not to be racing with the current situation but we are ready and waiting. That podium beckons!
What is your ultimate motorsport ambition/ goal?
I’m not getting any younger, I don’t really have ambitions or big dreams, never did really; I just want to enjoy my racing. My goal is our first win with my new team B42’s Motorsport; having been involved right from the start this time with helping to build the car and this being a family team, not just a kind of “arrive and drive” as I could rarely get involved previously, the first win or even our first podium in the Mk5 GTI we built together would be amazing.
Who has been the one person that has influenced your motorsport career the most and why?
That’s a difficult one! Just one person? I would list the FW team as influencing my career, I would never have started without them. Then the Mini Challenge Advent team for encouraging me, Paul who was my “chief Roadie” for many years and then, of course, Jay Finlay who took me out of the expensive circus and created a team with value for money racing – we had 12 great years as the Finsport team. Nowadays, my partner Andy Butcher has been my rock of encouragement in recent years. But my Mum is the one, also known as Mumsie to the racing family. She has been with me and behind me for every step of the way. We lost my Dad a few months before I first raced, and she has been through so much herself with cancer and health issues, but she has been there supporting me every single race but one, when she had an operation! But perhaps I should say that Tim Harvey has influenced me. He was beside me in the first-ever drive and again when he sat with me driving in the Fiesta several years later, he said “I was very smooth. Could be faster, but smooth.”
Who is your best friend in motorsport?
That’s another tough question; I have made so many friends in racing and marshalling. Andy is, of course, my best friend currently in motorsport, that goes without saying, but Jay has been in my racing life the longest. His support has been unconditional and we became great friends, so probably Jay.
How did you feel when you won your first race?
I think I remember my first podium rather than winning a race. Although I have won a few, I won every Production Mk2 GTI 8v race I competed in. But the first podium at Snetterton, which I think was in 2009, was quite loud and the crowd got covered in champagne, with me shouting “I’ve waited 3 years to do that!”
What is your favourite story or anecdote from your time in motorsport?
Driving to Spa, 6 hours of travelling, just plodding along behind the race car trailer, listening to my music, some radio, some iPod, some CDs, clicking through ones I don’t like. We got a bit lost and had to turn round to get to the rear entry gate. As we enter the track at Spa, we drive through the tunnel to the paddock and at that exact moment we heard “dum.. du-du..dum du-du-du-du-dum..dum…” – it was the F1 theme tune, The Chain by Fleetwood Mac – perfect timing!
What has been your favourite race car that you’ve driven so far and why?
My little Mk2 Golf GTI which I named “Max” was my favourite I think. It was my first own and on a better budget. That little red car made me really race with confidence, it felt like an extension of me, not just a metal box. I had my first spin at a wet Silverstone in Max, laughing my head off, splashing through a huge puddle and not hitting anything! I got confident in the wet and won my first race in it. Even though it was an 8v car, we often mixed it up with the faster 16 valve cars. I cleaned up in the 8v championship in Production GTI winning every race. Max had a few bumps along the way but one battering I recall was Oulton Park. After several front and rear bumps in the pack, losing it on a corner and backing it into a barrier, then losing the catch tank, bumping its way under the car and spitting it out the back like a grenade during the race, I crawled home and Jay was amazed it made it home. I said, “It kept going so I kept driving”. It opened my life to club racing on a budget and I made several friends and lots of racing memories during that time, stories of which are still recalled today.
Many thanks to Dawn for the interview and providing us with some great insight in the process! If you fancy tackling these questions, whether you’re a driver, marshal, volunteer, coordinator, team owner or official, then e-mail Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org and you could be featured in our next interview!