As Singapore’s only female racecar driver – with a Formula 1 support race podium finish under her belt, no less – Claire Jedrek is used to life in the fast lane. But she also knows the importance of taking regular pit stops to refuel body and mind, which is why she joined a Chōsen retreat in Bali last year. We caught up with the motorsports maven while she was off the track to talk training, the challenges of racing and life lessons gained on her Chōsen experience.
Racecar driving wasn’t your first career, tell us how you got involved with motorsports?
Like some things in life, an opportunity came around and there was no way I was going to let go of it. I’ve been working in the media as a presenter for sports, fitness and lifestyle programs for the last ten years and three years ago I began commentating for the National Karting Championship.
To be able to talk off the top of my head, I had to be able to kart and understand what the drivers were going through. One thing led to another and soon I was getting podium finishes in local open gender leagues. Then my partner suggested I put a sponsorship package together and three months later I went testing.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I love the relationships I’ve developed from being in a team. Spending 15 hours a day in the garage with team mates, engineers, mechanics and other competitors; I’ve made some of my best friends. I also met my husband through racing, he’s a full-time Porsche Carrera Cup Asia driver. And I’ve been able to travel to some really amazing places in Asia.
What has your biggest challenge been in racing?
The challenge is not in the actual racing, rather the biggest obstacle was letting go of ego, it’s almost like a purification process. In racing you have to go slower to go faster; only when you’re able to focus on your own abilities and build upon them through dedication and commitment will you see results.
What has been the biggest thrill in your racing career so far?
I’m an emotional person, and being able to reel in my emotions and treat driving as a science has been a big thrill for me. Standing on the F1 support race podium was another highlight!
How do you prepare for a race?
I spend a lot of time on the simulators, as well as training (usually running and cycling) in the heat and sun. It can get up to 50 degrees in the car and in endurance races it takes a toll on the body. I also have a week-long pre-race routine when I eat clean healthy foods, up my hydration and don’t drink alcohol.
What are the key lessons learnt on a racetrack that you’ve taken into daily life?
Racing has been a complete brain retrain for me. As a driver everything you do and say has to be positive because your words and actions can really affect your teammates and others around you. One thing I have to constantly remind myself is that I can’t control the external factors like weather, competitors and track conditions, but I can control my own abilities and mindset. In life it’s exactly the same.
Why did you decide to join a Chōsen experience?
I wanted to go on an adventure, but I also didn’t want to have to think about every step. I kind of needed a holiday from my mind, to learn to wind down and focus on myself, which my Chōsen trip really allowed me to do.
How has your Chōsen experience changed your daily personal or professional life? What was the best part of the week?
One key thing I learnt is that in moments where I feel like I need my own space during the day, I can practice mini meditation timeouts. They really help me to breath and carry on with my day.
Another massive positive takeaway has been to be grateful and thankful for anything, everything and everyone. That kind of positive mindfulness is such a simple thing which we rarely practice. Just by listing out what I am thankful for, it sets the tone for my day and keeps me focused.
And my favourite part of the trip was just being there! It was possibly my best experience of 2016… outside of racing! Bonding with a new group of people and being part of another team was great. I met such amazing and inspiring characters on the trip and all the outdoor activities we did together – Crossfit, canyoning, surfing – really allowed us to work together and push each other forward and upward, which was truly refreshing.