In The Passenger Seat: Claire Jedrek, A ‘Jill’ of All Trades

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Unnamed 1 (Photo Credit: Claire Jedrek)

Claire Jedrek is certainly a ‘Jill’ of all trades: TV presenter, influencer, brand ambassador, entrepreneur, a mom and of course a race car driver. We look into her life and find out more on her love for motorsports.

Claire’s journey in motorsports started back in the mid-2000s and she has certainly come a long way in the industry. Fast forward to today, she has claimed 2 podium finishes for two different races back in 2018 and 2019, most notably for the Malaysian Grand Prix Support race where she came in 2nd.

She recalls her stories and experience over the years:

What ignited your passion for motorsports?

Unnamed 2 (Photo Credit: Claire Jedrek)

I was working in extreme sports way back in 2007 and was given the opportunity to work with Red Bull, where I was sent to São Paulo for the F1 end of season race. It was my first proper race that I attended at a historic circuit and the rest was history.

What are your thoughts on pursuing motorsports in Singapore?

It’s pretty tough, we don’t have a race track here and at the end of the day, barriers of entry are high. To be good, you’ll ultimately have to make sure you can finance yourself overseas.

What are some of the biggest lessons you've learned with your experience in motorsports?

I’ve learnt about structure, organisation and teamwork. Also, when they say you got to go slower to go faster, it applies to life as well. There are so many valuable lessons, but the biggest is letting go of your ego to achieve results.

What is it like being in a male-dominated sport?

Unnamed 3 (Photo Credit: Claire Jedrek)

I grew up taking part in extreme sports competitions as a teenager and I used to be the only female competing because of the lack of female entries. I think there are always nerves in the beginning as a rookie, regardless of the sex of the competition.

Did you experience any challenges as a female race car driver?

Not specifically as a female. This is because I’m seen as a rookie and other drivers are more cautious of bad driving rather than my gender.

What is your biggest achievement in motorsports to date?

Unnamed 6 (Photo Credit: Claire Jedrek)

I’ve had 2 podium finishes, both of which I came in 2nd. One was at the Malaysian Grand Prix Support race, and the other was my last race of the season. The latter was with my husband as the co-driver for a stock race.

Any memorable/interesting stories from your career in motorsports?

Unnamed 5 (Photo Credit: Claire Jedrek)

I’ve met so many amazing people, drivers and personalities. The story that was probably memorable was pumping milk at the back of the Shanghai circuit, sitting next to the guards who were smoking. They couldn’t see what I was doing as I was using my jacket to conceal myself. They looked really confused when I emptied my container full of milk onto the grass patch. Interestingly, I have pumped milk at every Asia and Europe circuit that I’ve been at.

Any advice for youths who want to pursue this profession in Singapore?

Make sure you have good financial backing, if any, to be a race car driver. They say the fastest way to be a millionaire is to start a billionaire. If not there are so many other areas to choose from in Motorsports. There is an ecosystem of mechanics, engineers, admin, and more. The list is long to choose from.

Any advice on how one can kickstart their career in motorsports?

Go-karting from a young age is a good start, but if you are a late starter like me, you would just have to spend lots of time in racing simulators and just getting seat time. There is no other way.

What plans do you have to continue your passion for motorsport?

This year I was looking forward to race again in Malaysia and Thailand. However, I don’t think Motorsports will be stable in Asia for at least the next two years. Being quarantined is a big thing and spending 2 weeks away from my kids, well I'm not quite sure I’m ready for that yet!

What inspired you to open The Karting Arena @ Bukit Timah alongside your husband?

Unnamed 4 (Photo Credit: Claire Jedrek)

We had a previous kart track in Changi but it was mostly for competitive karting using engine karts. We’ve tried multiple ways to encourage Motorsports in Singapore but it is tough due to the lack of interest from the various agencies. This is because Singapore prefers sports with high participation.

Therefore, my husband and I decided to make it accessible for everyone so that they can have fun. It also allowed us to reach a wider demographic.

What's more challenging: Raising a kid or racing on the tracks?

Unnamed (Photo Credit: Claire Jedrek)

Good question. Both require constant learning and never have fixed outcomes. Both are also investments and require time and money. They also need patience and letting go of your ego. But man, racing is tougher.

Have you ever considered incorporating fitness and motorsports into your kids' lives in the future?

Absolutely. For me there is no doubt in my mind as both my husband and I are both sporty by nature. Sports teaches you discipline, grit, sportsmanship, humility, control, being emotionless and how to work hard to earn it. It also keeps you brutally honest.

How do you balance having a family and your other pursuits?

Being organised is the biggest thing. Tag team parenting allow us to cover for each other as well. When we are at work, it’s 100% and I don’t waste any brain space missing them or thinking about them. When I’m with them, it’s 100% focus. I can’t have one or the other at the same time. Both require me to be at my best and optimum.

What is your biggest motivator in life?

Unnamed 7 (Photo Credit: Claire Jedrek)

The never-ending quest to keep learning. To keep creating the connections in my brain with neuroplasticity. You are only old as you say you are. I love pushing and being under pressure.

What is the motto you live by?

The pressure is a privilege. Don’t try to win because you are afraid of losing. Win because you are the best and the hardest one working.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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