Seven-year-old Chloe Grant from Perth could not have imagined where she would end up just ten years later, racing for Britain with the F1 Academy.
The Perth racing driver recently received a drawing of herself from a young fan.
This put things into perspective for the 17-year-old.
“I used to be that kid,” she said. Now instead of cheering on the side-lines, Chloe is in the drivers’ seat.
And she has come a long way from her days of karting in Crail.
Sexist boys helped Perth racer grow a tough skin
But it hasn’t always been as glamorous as flying off to Spain for one weekend, and the Netherlands the next.
Back in her karting days, Chloe had to put up with plenty of boys “jealous” of her skill on track.
“I had a few instances in karting where boys would take me off,” Chloe admitted.
“I think it’s influenced by their fathers or their grandads saying ‘you can’t get beaten by a girl’.
“So I do feel for them in that way. They have just not been fully educated.”
One karting opponent, Chloe said, cost her more than £2,000 in damage one year.
When the boys continued to bother her, Chloe “had some words” with those responsible. She said: “I told them to pack it in basically.”
But Chloe used this unjust treatment as a learning opportunity.
“The positive from that experience was that I became a more aggressive driver.
“I started to stick my elbows out a bit. It’s a shame that boy was like that, but it did toughen me up.”
Unfortunately, Chloe still has to deal with sexism online.
The Scottish driver uses social media channels like Instagram and Tiktok to help promote herself. However, she can be victim to sexist trolls that comment on her posts.
“I don’t really give it attention,” she said.
The one time Chloe did respond to a hater, it was with a video demonstrating her many achievements. The 17-year-old’s bedroom wall is covered in dozens of trophies.
The inaugural year of the F1 Academy sees 15 young female race drivers compete around the world.
Chloe is “very grateful” to be racing alongside so many talented young women.
The final race of the season will be in Austin, Texas in October.
12-15-minute F1 Academy highlight reels are available to watch, but the full races are not streamed live.
To any women hesitant to venture into the male-dominated field of motor racing, Chloe advises “just do it”.
While some might assume you need don’t to worry much about fitness to sit behind the wheel, in reality Chloe says you need to be “very physically fit” to drive the cars.
“You have to train for the level above,” Chloe explained. “I’m not going to jump into an F3 car anytime soon, but I’m training as if I’m going to.”
She has a personal trainer to help her work on her “crucial” fitness regime.
This requires as many as five sessions a week – plus two extra solo hours if she has spare time where she just “goes crazy”.
Lewis Hamilton made Perth’s Chloe feel ‘like an equal’
Chloe has fond memories of meeting racing icon Lewis Hamilton in 2019.
The pair ran into each other while she was at a Girls on Track event at Silverstone.
“I just met Lewis for half an hour,” she said, “but it was amazing.
“He didn’t make me feel like I was below him in any way. Lewis made me feel like an equal, which was lovely.
“He is massively above me, but he didn’t make me feel like that at all.”
This is Chloe’s third year in cars, and just her second in single-seaters.
If she gets onto the podium, the young Scot already has a plan.
“It means a lot to be Scottish,” she said, “I’m very proud of my country.”
Drivers that finish first, second and third in Formula races get to come out brandishing their country’s flag as they approach the podium. Race organisers usually only have a Union Jack to hand.
The Perth race driver is already representing Scotland with a Saltire on her car and helmet, but if she reaches the podium…
“I’ll be on the radio saying: ‘go into the truck, get the flag, get the flag!”