MOTORSPORTS - MARTA GARCÍA
At just the age of ten, Marta García was adamant on the career she wanted for herself. A lover of cars and speed, the world of motor racing was one she was fascinated by and drawn to. Who would have thought a karting circuit would become the foundation for a stellar athlete?
Tell us about yourself, how and when did you start practicing your sport?
I have always loved cars and speed. In 2010, when I was 10 years old, I went to a karting circuit with my father and I fell in love with speed and driving after the first few laps. From then on, I went to see a race and I told my father “This is what I want to do". I realized that the world of motor racing was much more fascinating than all the other sports I had tried. My father bought me a racing kart and then I started training until I did my first race that same year.
What is the best thing this sport has taught you?
For me, what the world of motorsport has taught me is discipline and independence. When you want something so bad, you need to give your 100% and train every day at all hours. There are things you miss out on when you are 12, 13 and 14 years old as a teenager but you sacrifice it for the sport and your goals. It has also taught me to be an independent person from a very young age, as I have had to travel alone without my parents since I was 14 and 15 years old to countries like England. I have had to deal with people in higher positions on my own, and I have had to interact with people in languages other than my own (Spanish).
What advice would you give to young women who want to get started in your sport?
What I have always said is that if you want something, go for it. The world of motorsport is still mostly for men, but there are more and more women, and we are pushing to have visibility and to, one day, be in Formula 1. From woman to woman, I would tell them to fight for what they want, not to give up, that everything is made up of effort and sacrifice and that we can achieve wherever we want.
What sporting achievement are you most proud of?
One of the most important achievements in my life is when I won the industry trophy in 2015, the grid was composed of 40 drivers from all over the world and I was the only girl. I won that race and it was something spectacular, I remember all the mechanics applauding and cheering for being number one and outperforming men. Obviously, at that moment, I had earned the respect of the whole Paddock.
Do you remember the moment when you realized that being a racing driver could be a career for you?
I remember it was while racing at a circuit in the Valencia area. It was in 2011, I was 11 years old. I remember that in the middle of the race it started to rain, and we were training with dry tires on. Nevertheless, I did the fastest lap of the race along with the best drivers in Spain at that time. That's when I realized my potential and my talent as a driver and, maybe one day, reach the highest level: Formula 1.
As a woman, did you ever have doubts about the possibility of dedicating yourself professionally? What made you change your mind?
Yes, on many occasions I felt that people treated me as if I was inferior, especially when I started. I know that in this industry there are more men than women but, thanks to the personality I have, I’ve also always known that I can get whatever I want. Everything I’ve heard from men since I’ve started training and racing (+10 years), has made me even hungrier to win and to prove that a woman can be up front and win.
Do you think that women (athletes) are sufficiently represented and recognized in society? If not, what do you think would help to achieve a more equal level of representation?
Lately, a lot more importance is being given to women's sports. This is something that was missing before, but now I am seeing more progress. There is still a long way to go, as women are not being paid the same as men for instance, but little by little, more visibility is being given to female athletes and sports where women are involved. I would also like to add that there are programs such as “Mujer y Motor” that help with sponsorship for women, and other programs in other sports that have emerged over the years. So, to answer the question: I think we are being more recognized in society, and it is helping us in a much wider way compared to years ago, but we still must keep fighting for it.
How has social media contributed, in your opinion, to change the perception of professional women in sport?
In this sense, I think that social media has helped me personally to grow and to be better known as a professional racing driver. It is also true that sometimes I have received sexist comments for the simple fact of being a woman driving a car. But honestly, I think that the boom of social media has made it possible for many women to take the chance to make themselves known and to reach a larger audience so that we can really show what we do, what we fight for, what we sacrifice ourselves for, and what we can do for the sport we love.
If you could, what would you change about your sport from a woman's perspective?
I can't say what I would change really. I've been racing since I was 10 years old and it's true that at the beginning, I had to earn respect, but today I feel respected by the whole world of motorsport. I think it's more the change in society that is needed towards a less “men-focused” world than the sport itself.