Many of our students achieve extraordinary things alongside their degrees. Philosophy and Psychology student Sophie Wright was selected to take part in the 2022 Mini Challenge – one of only two women on the Grid in this season’s ‘Trophy Class’. Having got her first race under her belt, Sophie tells us about her experiences in her second race, how her Psychology studies are helping her racing and her hopes for the next race at Croft Circuit.
My race at Thruxton
In my last race, at Thruxton, I started last on the grid because of a tough qualifying – I’d never been to this track before unlike most of the other drivers who’ve had years of experience here. The red lights go out and we are off. I have a great start and move up through the field, I am telling myself to stay patient, to stay focused, and breathe. I had made such good progress and was determined not to throw it away for being eager. However, suddenly there is an incident on the track in front of me, and I am approaching another car at 100mph that is spinning toward me out of a cloud of dust. In a situation like this, the first rule of motorsport is to aim at the car because it won’t be there when you get there; essentially, don’t aim where you think it’s going to go. However the driver ended up turning into me, and I had nowhere to go – except into them, at roughly 75mph. Racing incidents like this, which can’t be avoided and are no one’s fault are just a part of the sport.
Getting back out there
Since my Thruxton race, I have been recovering from whiplash and some other injuries. However, what is essential, along with physical recovery, is mental recovery. As many sports people will know, getting back out there after an injury or incident can be really scary. Your confidence is shot – and that can be detrimental to a driver, especially because going into a corner at 90mph, keeping your foot flat on the throttle through a chicane, out-braking a competitor, are all about bravery and confidence. But also, about going against every natural instinct you have. So, whilst I’ve been waiting for my body to heal, I have been doing a lot of mental exercises. As a psychology student, I know how important this is. Visualization and meditation are great practices to intertwine with Yoga. Once I am physically sound, I plan to head to the local kart track just to get a feel of it all again; the competitiveness, planning attacks (offense & defense), and mental focus. The Iron Man challenges are great for this (endurance karting).
Watch my next race
So, on June 25 and 26 (Sunday is on ITV4), we all meet again at Croft circuit just 40 minutes south of Durham where I hope to do AReeve (my team) and University proud by crossing the finish line! It might have been a tough start to the championship, but the community of drivers, mechanics, marshals, and teams in the Mini Challenge series is wonderful. So many welcoming voices for a woman on the grid and so much concern and heartfelt wishes after my shunts have left me grateful to be a mini trophy driver.