Alice Hughes is one of those rare things in motorsport; not only does she have a dream of being a pro race car driver, but everyone who has raced with her, worked with her, coached and mentored her along the way believes she will be too.
Alice started her racing career, as many aspiring stars do, in National Autograss – one of the most fiercely competitive forms of amateur motorsport there is in the UK. With classes for Junior Racers, Ladies as well as the Men, it creates a level playing field for those with talent to shine. Naturally, Alice took every opportunity that was given to her in National Autograss, racing with the boys in the Junior Saloon Class and more often than not showing them how its done. When she graduated to the Ladies Class she won the prestigious Class 1 Ladies National Championship in 2013, and again in 2014, retaining her title, something that no other Lady driver had done before.
Alice’s dreams, however lay beyond amateur motorsport. With her eyes firmly set on one day competing in Britain’s top saloon car formula, the BTCC, a move from short oval racing to circuit racing was required, so for the 2015 season she moved over to the BRSCC Mighty Mini Formula.
Alice says: “Jonathan Lewis ran my Mighty Mini for the first two meetings of the year. He also helped me pass my ARDS test with some training at Snetterton and Rockingham, I don’t know whether it was a sales tactic or just a bit of bs… but he said it was 12 years since he has seen a girl come through with the natural ability I had. He also said there was an opening in the market for a good lady British driver”.
Going by the amount of help and support Alice was being offered, its quite safe to say, it was not ‘bs’! Maria Brown, a fellow Mighty Minis competitor, helped Alice with her transition from loose surface to the black stuff, but with Alice’s true natural racing style, she took to it straight away. Needless to say, the successful campaign in 2015 in the Minis meant that the next step up would need to come in 2016.
Alice: “The Mighty Mini Championship has been an amazing introduction to circuit racing, however, as a driver I’d like to experience more power where the accelerator isn’t just a switch”.
The decision was made to try and make the 750 Motor Club Hot Hatch series for 2016; a known feeder formula for the ToCA Tour, where the British Touring Car Championship resides. Alice continues about the upcoming Hot Hatch series:
“A Fiesta ST is under build at the moment and it has to be ready for the 750 Motor Club stand at Autosport International in January [The worlds largest racing industry expo held at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre]. As I’m the only girl driver in the Hot Hatch Series, 750 thought it’d be a great idea to use my car as one of the promotion cars on the stand and I am really looking forward to it!”
So far, Steve Hughes, previous racer and unbelievably proud father has been the main sponsor and fundraiser for Alice’s blossoming career. However, as everyone knows in motorsport, even when your talent is acknowledged by the best in the business, without investment, the talent and dreams will come to a stop. Steve comments:
“Alice has her first sponsors with Race Engineered and TBR Racing from Hull who are providing machine time and labour on the Fiesta ST. They are also providing her with one of their new for 2016 TBR Signature Engines and support at all the meetings, a testament of their faith in Alice’s ability. After watching her race at Donnington Park you can see her car control is amazing. The public awareness she created racing at Donnington put me in shock. I now fully believe she has what it takes to make it but we do need some investments for this promising young girl so she can move forward onto great things within British motorsport.”
Alice is truly a promising star of circuit racing in the future. Heading into the Hot Hatch Championship in 2016, she will be the sole lady driver, aiming to prove that a natural racing instinct will set you apart from the crowd. Alice will continue to raise her profile throughout 2016 with appearances on and off track, so look out for her.
More importantly, please take the opportunity to be part of this young girl’s career, and click the button to donate to her race fund. All talent needs support to flourish, and we wish Alice all the best of luck on her fund raising, and hope to see her on our TV screens and on the UK motorsport circuit very soon.