Conversation with Peter Burns – Asia Motorsport Development
What is your background, where did you come from and why did you choose TOC?
I come from a background of two elder brothers, so there are three of us. It was my second brother who got me into racing, well into speed really! Basically I like cars! I wasn’t doing anything after High School and I Googled some automotive colleges and I found TOC, I told my parents about it and I’m glad that I made it. I’m here with the boys!
What are you studying at TOC and why did you choose it?
I am studying Automotive Technology. I chose it for basic knowledge, but after the first year I kind of like motorsports more, so maybe in the future I should continue in motorsports.
We need more girls in motorsport! Why did you volunteer for the Caterham motorsport experience?
For me I love racing. I love tracks, so basically I wanted to get experience from somewhere other than Sepang, so I volunteered to go with Caterham to Thailand.
You have a background in motorbikes and you ride bikes don’t you?
Yes I do, but I don’t race them. I only ride for fun at the weekend!
How did you find the Caterham motorsport experience, it was a bit different because you went to Thailand, which was the first time Caterham had raced out of Malaysia, so it was an added bonus?
It was great and very good for me and I would like to thank Caterham for the opportunity of sending me to Thailand.
Would you like to race with Caterham again?
I hope so, yes.
This was your first experience of working in a motorsport environment, what important lessons did learn with Caterham?
To have a good pit crew. I learnt that after each session on the track we needed to check the tyre pressures and the oil level which is important. With Caterham I gained knowledge which I could apply to myself as well.
Check, check, check and double check and if all is done, then clean! What did you enjoy most about working with Caterham?
Yes, always keep checking! I enjoyed working with my team, which made me enjoy most of the environment, especially the race and even though under hot conditions, it was enjoyable and great fun. Some other girls should try it too!
Well we need more girls! How do you think that this experience will benefit you in the future?
Hopefully to change my hobby into passion. I can apply some of the techniques which I learnt from racing, such as how the drivers prepare themselves and how the pit crew prepare their cars. I am fortunate to have learnt so many aspects, such as the importance of teamwork, precision and attention to detail.
To look at it another way around, how does the education you get from TOC help you when you did the Caterham motorsport experience?
In Automotive Technology we learn how to take care of the car, and I can apply this to racing as in checking the oil level, the tyre pressures, the condition of the engine, the exhaust, the smell, everything to keep a racing car healthy.
What are your career aspirations looking ahead into the future for 10 to 20 years time?
Well I hope to do racing for passion, to race myself, hopefully to race in the Malaysian super series. To take baby steps, and then if God says it’s your time and if things progress well, then to go racing international as well, to keep the girls running in motorsport!
Maybe the first thing you should do is the Time Attack, or something like that?
That’s what I meant for the Malaysian super series.
That’s a great way to start. So you would like to go racing and one day run your own team?
Yes, hopefully to run my own team with my friends who share the same hobby.
The important thing is to do it for passion and then money can come eventually. You are in your second year now, what is the next step on your career path?
Maybe to venture in motorsports, to study and move across into the motorsport side.
There aren’t that many girls involved in automotive or motorsport, but there is no reason why not because it is a level playing field. It’s just that it is seen to be much more for edboys’ interest. How are we going to encourage more girls to do it?
For me, coming from a girl, and I am not that girlish, girlish so I think it would count, actually it is not that hard. I think of it as knowledge, so the boys wouldn’t cheat me if something happened to my car. So I think that the girls should do the same thing, take it as knowledge and not take it as a barrier and think that because I’m surrounded by all guys I can’t do this because I’m the only girl. Instead take it as knowledge, other girls can do it as well.
As Susie Wolff said, once you put your helmet on you are all racing drivers, it doesn’t matter whether you are a boy or a girl.
That’s is so true, I agree. Someone came to me previously at my last track day, and he said he didn’t know that I was a girl! I was actually quite shocked! I was said to him, in motorsport is there a prize for gender? I thought there was only a prize for your time, not your gender. Why are you saying that?
It is one of the few sports that doesn’t have a gender issue. We need more girls to be involved. How do you explain your passion to your girlfriends, do they understand?
Yes, I agree about the gender issue. Some of the girls ask how do I do it between the guys? But I say it is not a problem, it is either a yes or a no. It is all in you. If it is no then you are building a boundary which you can’t go through, and you keep building on your fear. Girls should definitely join and enjoy the fun, there is no harm in trying .
Thank you Zafirah very much. For ladies who are interested in becoming involved in motorsport visit Asia Women in Motorsport Association – www.awima.org.