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Author: The Greenpower Team
The theme for International Women in Engineering Day 2020 is ‘Shape the World’. 18-year-old Ami-May Woolmer credits Greenpower with helping her to shape her plans for the future. Ami-May first competed in the Greenpower challenge in 2019, with her team ‘The Crazy Diamond’ finishing fifth in their first outing on track at Goodwood circuit. Ami-May is set to study automotive engineering with motorsport at the University of Hertfordshire later this year, and ultimately wants to work for a Formula 1 team as a mechanic or test driver.
We spoke to Ami-May to find out more about her experience with Greenpower, and the influence it has had on her both on and off the track.
How did you first hear about Greenpower?
“I hadn’t come across Greenpower at primary or secondary school – I had heard about it, but I didn’t know what it was about. I started studying at Chelmsford College and one of my tutors was building a car. They had one driver at the time and out of the blue they offered me the chance to drive, and I jumped at it.’”
Why did you decide to get involved?
“I love cars. I love everything about how they work. I’ve always wanted to do some sort of racing at some point in my life, I just didn’t know how it would happen. Then the opportunity to compete in Greenpower came up and I thought, ‘I’m going to take this. no matter what.’ The Greenpower community is so close and everyone cheers everyone else on and it’s amazing.”
How did you discover your passion for STEM?
“I decided to study engineering at college after an event held by Ford for Women’s Engineering Day in 2017. They invited just 10 schools with 13 girls from each to visit their facilities at Ford Dunton to promote engineering, and that’s really what got me into it.”
What was your first Greenpower race like?
“Our first race was at Goodwood in June 2019. It was halfway through the season as we couldn’t get the car ready in time for earlier events. We treated it as a shakedown with myself and another driver doing a changeover halfway through the race to get a feel for how the car was and how the team would perform. It was a brand new car so we didn’t know what the logistics would be like. I drove first and went from the back of the grid to sixth place. We dropped to seventh after the pit stop but got back up to fifth by the end of the race – we were over the moon. We didn’t have any prior experience with the car and we weren’t expecting to come in the top-ten in our first race. To compete at Goodwood circuit was amazing, I got to be a part of the history of such a famous track, and it inspired me to carry on.”
What do enjoy most about taking part in the challenge?
“I’m interested in both the racing and the engineering side of Greenpower; I like to have a good experience with how the car is going to perform before I get into the car, because then you know if there might be any issues or what to expect. I love being a part of the pit crew and getting the car ready, it’s like my little baby! You’ve got to make sure it’s safe. We don’t do too much to the car between events; we filled in a couple of holes or paper the edges to make sure it’s definitely aerodynamic. Just before Silverstone we fitted new tyres on it and attempted to put disk covers on it, but it didn’t quite work so we ran without them.”
What have you gained from this experience?
“Greenpower has given me confidence. I was shy and timid and didn’t really like speaking to people before. Since having to speak to other teams and getting more involved, it’s given me a confidence in myself and now I strive to push myself to the limit and to be the best of the best. It’s given me experience of how race teams work and what they do to be better than the others. It’s also given me hope that this is how racing could be in the professional environment. Just after Silverstone we went and spoke to BAE Systems, which was daunting because they are experts and I had to go and show I knew what I was talking about.”
What are your ambitions for the future?
“After I’ve finished my studies at university, I want to work for a Formula 1 team. My university offers opportunities in circuit racing and rallying so I want to try everything, but I suspect that Formula 1 will still be my goal. Just being on famous tracks like Silverstone and Goodwood feels like home to me. I want to be either a mechanic or a test driver who can just jump into the car, and there are a lot of women who are currently test drivers for teams.”
Why should people consider taking part in Greenpower?
“I would definitely recommend that people get involved in the Greenpower challenge and I wish everyone had the chance to experience it; it is a whole world of excitement. It’s all about inspiring young people, and my goal is to inspire people to get into STEM – and that women can do it. Just because it is male-dominated, you should own it rather than feel shut down. We can do it and prove to people that we can. Engineering is such a good career choice for young women and you can do so much with your life. There’s so many opportunities you can take up and you can go and see the world – and get paid to do so!”
What was your favourite moment?
“At Bedford, it was the same day my nan passed away, and we were looking up at the sky wondering if she knew that we thinking of her. Some hot air balloons then came over, and one of them said “She knows”. When driving round the track I thought I was third or fourth, and just before the last bend I overtook another car and realised at the finish line I had come second. Another great experience was at Silverstone. The roar that we got from everyone clapping and cheering was amazing. Another team joined in with my college cheering my name as I drove down the start/finish straight. The whole distance I could hear people shouting for me.”