Fast and fearless, Holly Glen is a woman at the top of her game in the male-dominated sport of motor racing. Gayle Ritchie finds out more…
The world of motorsport has historically been dominated by men.
Regarded as daredevils with a need for speed and a hunger for danger, they are the glory-chasers who battle it out – fiercely – on the track.
Enter Holly Glen, the racecar driver from Inchture in Perthshire leaving gender stereotypes in the dust.
Holly has been mad about motoring since she was a wee girl and started racing when she was just 11 years old.
“I was never keen on Barbie dolls or My Little Ponies!” laughs the 33-year-old.
“My mum, dad and cousin raced old bangers and I was always happiest hanging out in the garage with my dad.”
These days, Holly races two-litre saloon stock cars, which are basically the “shells” of cars such as Ford Mondeos with pimped-up engines.
They’re fully “armoured” with bumpers used to push and shove the opposition out of the way, often resulting in hair-raising rolls and spins.
Most of the cars Holly drives are battered and bashed up with battle scars – a sign that such “full contact” races are most definitely not for those of a nervous disposition.
Unsurprisingly, a nervous disposition is not something Holly suffers from. Rather, she has nerves of steel.
Despite having broken her back during what she describes as a “freak accident” in May, she was racing just two months later.
“It’s a pretty dangerous sport – you’re hurtling round racetracks at speeds of around 70mph – so you have to open your mind to the reality that you might have accidents and get injured,” reasons Holly.
“I was very unlucky to have that bad smash but it didn’t put me off. I’ve had plenty of injuries over the years – broken elbows and other silly things.”
Holly started her motorsport career with Minis, racing them from the ages of 11 to 16.
She’s also raced bangers and Formula 11 cars – “they were just too expensive” – but saloons are her major passion.
“I’m the only lady that races two-litre saloons and I just go for it,” she beams.
“I love the fact it’s full contact because you can push into corners and walls, which can be pretty dangerous – but so exciting.”
Her ambition for 2020 is to qualify for the World Championship for two-litre saloons – and she’s currently in 28th position.
She also just qualified for the Saloon Superbowl.
Working alongside her dad, George, as a mechanic at North Isla Street Motors in Dundee, motoring truly dominates Holly’s life.
“I’m really hands-on and do all the setting up of my cars, as well as repairs, myself,” she says.
“I don’t mind getting my hands dirty. I’m always covered in oil!”
It seems that racing is in Holly’s family, with her younger brother, Barry, 29, competing against her in the two-litre saloon contests. Her nine-year-old niece is also a big petrolhead and races Micro F2s.
It’s great news for the future of women in the sport, although Holly admits it can be hard to break into such a male-dominated field.
“It can be daunting when there are so many men around, but when they realise you’re just as good as them, they start talking to you, and respecting you!” she laughs.
“There are a few girls into Micros and Minis but we could definitely do with more because it’s a man’s world, for sure,” she says.
Getting cars to race tracks across the UK can be expensive and tricky, and involves vans, trailers and expert knowledge, so it’s not for everyone.
“Whether I’m at Cowdenbeath or Ipswich, it’s a big deal getting around,” says Holly. “But it’s always brilliant fun when I get there and race my heart out.”
Holly’s advice to any girls keen to follow in her footsteps is quite simply to “go for it”.
“It’s absolutely brilliant fun and such an adrenalin rush,” she says.
“I love the speed, the atmosphere, the fact you meet so many great people and even acquire a few fans.
“Loads of people follow me on Facebook as a result of my racing success and I find that just amazing.”