While the automotive world of cars, trucks and motorcycles has traditionally been a male domain, the love of cars drives many women to discover their own hobbies and passions within the realm. Here, three women speak of finding their own paths to achievement through their interest in driving and working on vehicles.
Having grown up around race cars and the racing circuit where her father Bill Chalkias competed, Demitria Chalkias discovered a natural talent behind the wheel as a teenager. A high school athlete whose triathlon Olympic dreams ended with a hip injury, she turned to go-karting at age 16 as an outlet for her need to challenge herself.
“It was my own fault,” she says of the injury. “I have a personality where I want to be the best at it, and I was pushing myself too hard. I’ve always been stubborn. It taught me a lot.”
With her father’s encouragement, Chalkias progressed from go-karting to advanced driving courses at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (Mosport) in Bowmanville and racing school at Shannonville. She passed the extensive racing school course to earn her Ontario racing license on a Sunday and was in her first race the following Saturday, landing on the podium at Mosport in second place at the BEMC spring trophy races at age 22.
“It was awesome; I know Mosport like the back of my hand,” she says. “That’s where I grew up, on the passenger seat beside my dad.”
For Chalkias, racing is a true passion, and even just discussing the sport stirs her emotions. “It’s like even my eyes feel like tearing up,” she says. On the track, “I feel like a completely different animal.”
Describing herself as competitive and driven, Chalkias says she’s calm and focused when a race begins, and flooded with emotion when it’s over. “I feel like I’m going out to battle. I feel like a soldier.”
Now 25 and currently racing in the Canadian Automobile Sports Club (CASC) Ontario Region series in a BMW E36, Chalkias says she’s received several offers to make her professional racing debut, the next level up.
“Even if you’re asked to race at that level, you have to bring a lot of money on board,” she explains. “You need sponsorships.”
The racing world is an unstable career to bank on, says the Stouffville resident, who has been mindful of financial investments, working hard to secure herself financially outside of racing. Able now to focus on her racing career, she says she’s ready to tackle the CASC championship at Mosport this year.
“I plan on killing it this year,” says Chalkias, who dropped out of premedical health sciences studies at UOIT at age 22 to concentrate on racing. “This year I just want to focus on racing…there’s going to be a whole lot of time this summer dedicated to racing.”
Most professional racecar drivers have secondary incomes as driving instructors, she notes. Arriving at the point where she can make a living in the sport of racing is her dream. “I will eat, breathe and sleep racing. It’s the passion that fuels my fire.” When she’s not on the track, she keeps busy restoring and modifying classic BMWs and is active in car show organizations.
*Original article from Cruising Magazine