Christie Doran didn’t come into racing in the typical way. The was no dipping her toe in the water, no casual karting turning into more than just a hobby. Instead, she joined the Ginetta Junior grid at Knockhill with just seven months of intensive preparation behind her…
‘I was given the opportunity when the Scottish Sun and Ginetta teamed up and wanted someone to compete in a race even though they have no previous race experience and they picked me.’ Doran explained. The Scottish Sun Rookie Racer is an initiative to prove that you don’t need years of karting experience to go racing and Doran was lucky enough to be chosen for the opportunity.
‘I was 15 and had seven months to go from knowing nothing about cars to racing on the grid. I learned basic race craft at my local indoor kart track and went to an underage driving school which taught me the basics of how to drive.’
‘I competed at Knockhill in the Ginetta Juniors and finished my first ever race 13th out of 15. It wasn’t an easy task but once I started I didn’t want to stop so we decided to go into my first championship. I joined the Classics and raced in a Triumph TR8, I finished second in class and tenth out of 40 overall.’
Next up was two years in BMW Compact Cup, before the damage costs became too high and Doran sought a new challenge. She found it in the VAG Trophy, where she has been competing for the last three years.
‘We left [BMW Compact Cup]and did a couple of guest rounds in the VAG Trophy, where I was the first female to win silverware. I completed my first year in the VAG Trophy in 2015 and after learning all of the tracks I finished the year fourth in class.’
In 2016 Doran achieved 12 podiums, three wins and five fastest laps with Slidesports, but she struggled much more in 2017 and had to settle for 3rd in class.
‘2017 has been a very tough year. After a big crash at the first round in Rockingham it was all about finding my confidence again. We had a very limited budget so that meant no testing apart from the official days. It took a while to get into the groove with the car but by the end of the year we were back on the pace and on the podium!
‘We have a good few options for 2018 which all have different paths for the future. A lot will come down to budget, but hopefully we can take the next step and keep moving upwards and onwards.’
Doran has had a unique experience in motorsport as the Scottish Sun Rookie Racer and making her racing debut at part of the British Touring Car Championship support package. Alongside her racing commitments she writes weekly columns for the paper.
‘It’s great fun because the Scottish Sun like to give me new challenges each year which makes it really exciting. Now that I have a few years’ experience under my belt, things have changed slightly – I am now the Scottish Sun’s bREVheart, but we are still looking at ways to climb the motorsport ladder.’
Despite her role demonstrating that anyone can go into racing, Doran emphasises the hard work that goes into being a driver and that it requires a high level of commitment and dedication. It’s not something that you can enter into half-heartedly if you want to succeed. A driver’s job isn’t over when they get out of the car, they need to sell themselves to potential sponsors and the media as well as making sure they maximise every little detail to increase their chances of success.
‘You need a package of skills and that can be tough. A lot of people outside of the racing world think all racing drivers do is drive around a track but there are a lot more elements to it.
‘We need to find the budget to race by finding sponsors. Then, to keep those sponsors onboard, you need to work hard to make sure they are getting a great return. You need to be aware of the media – getting exposure for yourself and your sponsors. That can involve social media knowledge, writing reports and talking to partners and potential sponsors.
‘Then you have to be fit – I go to the gym or do some other exercise six times a week. You need to know what you are eating. Then you need to work with the team and give them the feedback they require about the car and the track conditions.’
She might not be ready to reveal her plans for 2018 but six years on from her jump into the deep end, Christie Doran has proved herself ready to face anything.
Quick Fire Questions
Who is your driving hero and why?
Definitely Susie Wolff. I have a lot of respect for Susie as she has got so far in her career and she is always looking at ways to give something back to the next up and coming female racing drivers.
Which race that you have competed in means the most to you and why?
It must be the last race of 2016 in the VAG Trophy at Castle Combe. Not many people can say they have had the perfect weekend but Slidesports and I definitely did as we achieved pole in class and 2 wins and 2 fastest laps.
If you could have spectated at any race in motorsport history what would it have been?
Being Scottish and young, I would have loved to have seen Jim Clark race. I would love to have seen Allan McNish or Ryan Dalziel’s wins live at Le Mans because I know them. Yes, I think one of Allan’s wins would be my choice. He won’t thank me for saying it, but in 2008 he crashed on the formation lap at Petit Le Mans. His Audi team got it fixed but they started two laps down, yet they fought back to win. That would have been some race to say you were there.
A quick message for young women wanting to go into motorsport?
Always believe in yourself because the only person that can stop you achieving what you want to do is you. Whether you want to race or become a motorsport engineer, as long as you work hard and do the best you can, you will make it.