In the third episode of What Does It Take, presented by Matthias Dandois, we meet the amazing rally car driver, Catie Munnings.
Among other accolades she is the first British racer to win a European Championships in 50 years and will be the first to race all legs of the World Championships ever. Matthias tracked her down in Zell Am See, Austria, where she had just raced a 600hp Bentley around an ice track, while towing a skier. All in a days work for one of the best female rally racers in the world.
“We always had our friends over to play in the mud and slide cars.”
Catie’s childhood was far from average and while other girls were dreaming of becoming the first female astronaut on Mars or riding ponies Catie was pulling handbrake turns on her dad’s racetrack. “I was much more competitive than my sister,” admits Catie, “and always desperate to race.” Age 17 she signed for Peugeot and went straight into racing at the European Championships. She had only just got her drivers license.
“I had to learn the hard way by being hit with a stick.”
The first time Catie took her road-driving test she failed for pulling out in front of a bus. She knew she had the space but her instructor didn’t. Her first instructor with Peugeot, an ex-world champion rally driver, was a little more direct in his tuition and not speaking a work of English took to showing her how to drive with the aid of a stick.
“My focus has always been a little different to the other girls.”
In 2016, Catie Won the European Championships, becoming the first female British racer to win in 50 years. But she is not content with just beating the girls and always strives to drive on a level with the her male counterparts. In her own words: “It is much more impressive to come 4th overall in the European Championships than first in the girls.” She was 20 when she when she achieved this high, with 10 years less experience than some of the male drivers she beat.
“Stop rally driving and make me a sandwich.”
Motorsports is a male stronghold and in her own words she is a woman “in a male dominated world.” But Catie is motivated to fight for her spot on the podium as an equal. On her journey she has experienced her fair share of chauvinist trolling but her solution is to answer with a “good fast clip of driving” with no words. “It’s your driving that does the talking,” she says defiantly and for that extra bit of “girl power” when she races she always has a female co-driver by her side.
“If you are trying to find the limits sometimes you go over them.”
Rally driving is dangers and however good Catie might be behind the wheel she has had her share of crashes. On one particularly fast race in Poland, she lost control and ended up in someone’s living room, via their front wall: “On the onboard camera you heard a scream but its was the woman in the house,” she chuckles. Thankfully, she was not hurt and made Catie and her co-driver a nice cup of coffee.
“It was like Top Gear but for children.”
With racing and her natural charm Catie earned her own kid’s TV show on the BBC, called Catie’s Amazing Machines. “Just going to work was an absolutely incredible experience,” she remembers of taking the wheel of an antique fighter plane and submarine. But despite paying for her to race and loving the experience, it was driving that truly motivated her: “For me that is what makes my fire burn,” she states.
“Relax. Smell the flowers. Enjoy the ride.”
This year Catie will be the first female rally driver to race the entire World Championships, in the R200 category, which she describes as “a massive step forward” in her career. She will have to get used to new tracks, cars and competitors, so is taking this first year as a “learning experience”. Luckly, she has her awesome family team to keep her on the straight and narrow and with six years ahead of her in the juniors has plenty of time to beat the boys onto the podium.
Discover the nuts and bolts of the world’s best extreme sports athletes on What Does It Take, with Matthias Dandois, every Wednesday at 6pm CET.
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What Does It Take is produced by ASI Media Events and Maniac Studios for Red Bull Media House.