Jamaican racing star Sara Misir wants to ‘open the door’ for young drivers

British GT Cup Championship driver Sara Misir is quickly making her mark in motorsport – and she has battled through plenty of setbacks, trials and tribulations to get there.

The 24-year-old made history earlier this year in becoming the first Caribbean woman to win the Formula Woman competition. By doing this, she earned herself a grid spot in the 2022 British GT Cup Championship.

Established in 2004, Formula Woman aims to give female drivers with little or no previous racing experience the opportunity to become the next female racing star. Misir was one of four winners of the 2022 competition.

But things could have been very different, in sporting terms, for the Jamaican. A successful equestrian rider, she had a high ranking of world number six, and had dreams to compete at the Olympics. However, she suffered horrific injuries in an accident during training.

Speaking exclusively to Sporf, Sara Misir explains: “My first dream was to go to the Olympics, and I was actually training for the Pan-American Games.

“Unfortunately, one day, I got into a tragic accident with my horse, where I got kicked in the face. It dislocated my jaw, and broke it, broke my skull in half, and broke my eye socket. I have four plates and a bunch of screws in my skull right now.”

Misir spent six months recovering from the accident, before deciding to return to the saddle. However, she broke her shoulder in another incident, prompting her parents – particularly her father, the President of the Jamaica Karting Association – to encourage her to try motorsport.

She continues: “I tried [go-karting], and absolutely fell in love with it. It wasn’t an easy transition, to go from a sport where I was training from when I was three years old, to a brand new sport where I knew absolutely nothing. I was going from always winning in horseback riding, to always losing in go-karts.

“It was a huge adjustment, even mentally, to understand that. But I wouldn’t take it back, because it really taught me perspective, on how hard work doesn’t necessarily mean results, or always first place. Hard work means that you put in the discipline, and you put in the time. Eventually, it will start to pay off.”

“I’ve seen such a difference in Jamaica”

That hard work and mentality led her to apply for Formula Woman, for which she took a year off school and left her job to enter.

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The work was worth it, and she now competes amongst a field of over 50 drivers in the British GT Cup Championship, driving a McLaren 570 GT4 in the GTH category. Although it has been a challenge – she says she has been on ‘more than 50 flights’ in the past four months – she adds that the experience has been ‘amazing’ so far.

As well as achieving success in motorsport, Misir also places great importance on inspiring the next generation, which is something she has already seen on her home island.

“Being the first female from the Caribbean, and especially Jamaica overall, to reach this level, honestly, I’ve seen such a difference in Jamaica.

“For example, the other day, we had a go-karting camp. There were so many girls that signed up for the go-karting camp. And it was girls that knew me, knew my story, and said they want to be just like me.

“I told them, I said, ‘You should aim to be even higher’. I mean, I opened the door to more opportunities for the younger girls from the Caribbean and the diaspora, and I’m excited to see how far they will take it eventually.

“For example, when you’re in prep school, and people ask you want to be when you grow up, you’ll be like, ‘A doctor, or a fireman, or this or that’. And just to kind of introduce a new aspect – that this is possible, too. You can choose to want to be a race car driver. You can choose to be an engineer, you can choose to be in STEM. There’s so much more to this world that you can actually ask for.”

“I just hope to show that, just because everything seems impossible, doesn’t mean it is”

When asked for her role model in sport, Sara Misir gave the name of Lewis Hamilton – the seven-time F1 Drivers’ Champion, and arguably the greatest F1 driver of all time.

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He has been a driving force behind increased diversity across motorsport. He also set up the Hamilton Commission, which aims to improve the representation of black people in UK motorsport.

Misir says that, although she does not have the same platform size as the Mercedes driver, she wants to follow in his footsteps in increasing diversity in racing.

“I know there are people that are listening, and I just hope to show that, just because everything seems impossible, doesn’t mean it is.

“In the past year alone, I’ve seen a boom in social media from pushing, especially in racing itself, in diversity, whether it’s race, ethnicity or gender. I’ve seen so many pages pop up, volunteer pages, showing other women in motorsport, and ethnicities in motorsports.

“I even saw the other day, a girl followed me on Instagram. We’ve actually been messaging each other. She’s a hijabi boxer, a female boxer. And I’ve seen so many people kind of showing their ethnicities through their sports and not being afraid of that. It’s just been blowing my mind.”

“You’ll never know how much you can achieve”

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When it comes to her own ambitions, Sara Misir has the ultimate dream of competing in the GT3 class of Le Mans Prototype (LMP) cars. The Jamaican also has a message for anyone looking to recover from severe setbacks, whether in motorsport or elsewhere.

“I would tell them, and this is personally what I live by. If you always do what you can do, you’ll never be more than you are.

“So it just means that, yes, if things may seem scary or may seem impossible, if you don’t put yourself out, you’ll never push yourself to be more, or to be greater. And you’ll never know how much you can achieve.”

The 2022 British GT Cup Championship continues with rounds 19, 20, 21 and 22 of the competition at Donington Park. It takes place on September 17-18.

To find out more about Formula Woman, including how to apply, click here.

Featured Image Credit: TimeToRefresh