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In the Driver's Seat with: Maral Ghazarian

Logan Fung
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Meet Maral, the Swiss representative for the Formula Woman Nations Cup - Learn about her unconventional route into racing!

Hey everyone, Logan from FanAmp here with a very exciting interview!

We are thrilled to introduce you to Maral Ghazarian!

I had the absolute privilege of sitting down with Maral, the Swiss representative for Formula Woman, to hear about how she got into racing, her upcoming events, and how she continues to break down barriers by being a woman in the male dominated world of Motorsport.

In honor of International Women’s Month, we wanted to highlight women who are paving their own way in the motorsport industry and Maral is an amazing example of this!

Keep reading to find out more!

Q: How and when did you get into racing?

Maral: My racing journey basically started in 2022. It was pretty much all connected to Formula Woman, they were like my channel into motorsport. I saw a TikTok video where they were looking for drivers that wanted to get into racing but didn’t know how to and I was so interested in it!

I had never heard of Formula Woman until I was scrolling on TikTok and saw that video. It was saying something along the lines of, “Do you want to get into racing but don’t know how? This is the place for you! You don’t need a lot of money, you just need to be 18 and have a driver’s license!” From that point I was curious and then looked into it right away. I signed up and actually signed up for a competition, but I didn’t know that at first. A couple months later, I did a boot tour with them which was like an introduction into motorsport where you do some track days, get to use the sim and then go karting.

It was so addicting and after that I attended a lot of track days with them and have basically done everything with Formula Woman. Then I did the competition in November of that year and made it through to the finals. I didn’t get further than the finals but it was such a great accomplishment for me at the start of my career.

Q: Had you ever done any sort of racing before Formula Woman?

Maral: I had never done any form of racing before that! Especially in my family, no one has anything to do with racing. I didn’t grow up karting and I never watched Formula One until about maybe about four years ago. No one in my family has ever had anything to do with racing so I’m the first one, I’m the odd one out. 

Q: What made you apply for Formula Woman? What piqued your interest about it?

Maral: I was always someone that was very interested in just driving. When I turned 18, the only thing I wanted was to get my driver’s license, so driving was just something that made me really excited. Since motorsport was banned in Switzerland for quite a long time, it’s absolutely not too popular or prominent here. Apart from karting and maybe some hill climb races, you can’t really do anything motorsport related here, so it never really popped in my head that I could go racing. 

It’s just not as common as it is in the UK so I never really thought about it. After I started to watch F1, I was thinking, oh wow this is so cool, imagine if I could do that! But in Switzerland it just felt like there was no chance of it, we don’t even have a racetrack here.

And then, I don’t know what TikTok algorithm was listening to me, but this video just popped up randomly and from there I looked into it. It sounded really cool and easy so I just thought, why not give it a shot? And now here I am!

I traveled back and forth between Switzerland and the UK a lot and it was a big commitment, but it was so worth it.

Q: What did the boot tour consist of?

Maral: The first day we just met everyone who arrived and then the next day we went to the track at Bedford. We got to sit in the normal BMWs and just get a feeling of how it is to drive on a track with cars around you. We were also allowed to get a few hot laps in a Jaguar and there were drivers taking us around the track which gave us a good idea of how it feels to go fast.

Then we got a chance to try out the simulators at iZone which really gives you the feeling of driving on the track but it eliminates the fear factor. You don’t have to worry about hitting anything or actually crashing. On the last day, we went Go Karting at Daytona which was so much fun because I had never been karting before.

It was so amazing to get to know all of these girls and everyone is sharing their experiences with the same passion. It was so fun and great to meet all these beautiful women. A lot of them didn’t have any prior experience, just like me, but some did. I think there was one girl that actually did the competition a year prior and just wanted to get back into it. Everyone had a different story, some grew up karting, some didn’t, some were just very interested in motorsport from the beginning, and some even worked in the industry. But yes, it was so cool hearing all the different stories. 

Q: What did your family say when you told them you were singing up for a racing competition in the UK?

Maral: I think that’s a good question… so my dad, I think he is more supportive than my mom, just because she finds it scarier. If I tell her like, “oh I’m going over 200kph into a corner”, she’s like, “don’t tell me that!” She is just very worried about it and I understand that it’s not easy for a mom to hear about her daughter doing something very dangerous. It’s a dangerous sport. You can’t say “don’t worry we have a helmet…”, because that’s not going to save you from a massive accident.

I think now that it’s my second year in the sport, they have gotten used to it a bit more. My dad is much more supportive and wanted to come to all my races. My mom is still worried and doesn’t want to hear about it but she still supports me.

The rest of my family and all my friends and co-workers are very interested and so amazed that I’m doing that. They’re like wow, this is so cool, you have to invite us to a race, I wanted to watch it! I think it’s such a novelty because like I said, no one really knows anyone in Switzerland that races and then it's a girl that races too which just makes it extra special.

Q: Did you have a female inspiration for getting you into racing?

Maral: It was kind of just self-inflicted. I grew up doing a lot of sports. I did soccer and track and field for a long time, but even then I didn’t really have anyone that I looked up to. Of course, you look up to all the very successful sportsmen, but I think even where I am now, I don’t really have someone specific that I look up to, I’m just inspired by all of them and anyone who achieves great things. 

If I look at the girls in the F1 Academy, I’m so happy and so proud that they get the chance to do that. I look up to that and how they were able to reach that level. It makes me want to reach that level as well! So overall, I would say that is more my inspiration rather than a specific person.

Q: What have been some of the biggest challenges that you've faced since joining the sport?

Maral: From all the competitive racing that I’ve done so far, I luckily haven’t experienced anything too negative. I think the main issue that everyone struggles with, even the men, is the sponsorships. The funding of this sport is tough because it is so expensive… it was definitely the most expensive sport I could have chosen! 

It’s really hard to fund it, especially in Switzerland where the sport is absolutely not prominent at all. People do know about racing, but they just connect everything with Formula One and not with everything else. And then there’s this girl that wants to go racing, but she has no prior experience… It's just truly very hard. You have to try to get sponsors through connections, and luckily I have a sponsor, but one only gets you so far. 

I need to look for other sponsors and it's very challenging and exhausting trying to sell yourself when you don’t have a whole list of wins and experience. You just need to find someone that believes in a woman that wants to go racing and wants to go big. I started to look for companies that have something to do with motorsport in some sort of capacity, whether it was just cars, or retails or whatever. Then you usually make a deck where you present yourself and what you have done so far. You also have in your future goals and any qualifications you have. If you have competed in a lot of races, then you should definitely list them all.

Most companies need some sort of media representation or an ambassador of sorts, and that is something you can offer. For some companies it's a fit and for some it's not. Sometimes it can depend on how many followers you have on social media but there are various factors for different companies. Sometimes they're looking for specific types of drivers or they already have enough drivers for the year, so it’s just really about getting yourself out there and being determined about what you’re doing. Eventually you will find someone that is willing to support you on your way!

Q: What events / races do you have planned for this year?

Maral: So the main event for this year in racing is the Nations Cup which will take place in December. It’s going to be a pretty big day and definitely the main event. If you qualify in the competition as a finalist, you are eligible to take part in the Nations Cup… and there are only 50 finalists.

The qualifications have already happened, basically if you did the competition and made it to the final 50, you were invited to another session that was purely for setting a track time. You just had to get in the car and drive a couple laps and you were assessed again. 

It will be the biggest event I’ve participated in and I’m really excited. I’m a bit scared and starting to get nervous because it’s such a big setting and a bigger track. It’s just a different level to what I’m used to but I’m very excited for it. It was postponed a couple of times so i got nervous thinking if it was even going to happen or not, but now we have a set date and are really working towards it.

Everyone is required to get at least a bit of training in the car. We’re going to drive Radical SR3s and everyone is required to get some training in those cars because it would be too dangerous if there are too many different levels of experience on track. Formula Woman is hosting track days with the Radical cars in the UK, I haven’t done one yet but I’m planning to. We’re supposed to fly in a few days earlier anyways and there will be training during the week before the event.

It is just so crazy to grasp it. It’s such a big event and I’ve never seen anything like it before so I just can’t wait. 

Q: What do you think is one of your biggest dreams or goals moving forward as a woman in motorsport?

Maral: I definitely want to get into more competitive racing. In Switzerland we have these Porsche sellers and many of them have their own race team. We have this Swiss Porsche Cup and they travel around and have about six races a year. Some in Italy, France, Germany and Austria. It’s not really competitive or that big, but I would really like to get into that because I’m really interested in Porsche. It would take some more experience and funding but it’s definitely a goal for me for the next couple of years.

Q: When you think of your racing career up until this point, what has been your proudest moment?

Maral: I was thinking about this earlier and I would have to say it was when I received the email saying that I made it to the final 50 women. I started crying! I was just so happy and so relieved. It felt like I already won, even though I didn’t. 

I did track days and karting and I went to the sim and worked on my mental fitness, and getting sponsorships and media and everything… and then I receive this email telling me I made it to the final 50. I just felt like, Oh My God… I’m one of the 50 girls that did it. And I knew a lot of girls that I had met through the process that didn’t make it. I don’t know how many girls there actually were but there were assessment days in Australia, America and in the UK. I think it was over 100 girls who tried out… and I am one of the 50 that made it!

That was, I think so far, one of the greatest accomplishments I’ve had. And with that, the Nations Cup is connected to that finalist spot. So yeah, even though I didn’t win the seat, the opportunity I have reached by being a finalist is amazing.

Q: What advice do you have for other women who are looking to get into the racing world?

Maral: Just do it and don’t overthink it too much!I remember I just signed up and thought, where is this going to take me? If someone would have told me three years ago that I’m going to be sitting here in the interview and talking about my racing journey and the race I’m going to be doing in Dubai, I would have been like, what are you talking about!

If you see the opportunity, just go and grab it and you won’t regret it. I think you’re going to regret it if you’re not taking any chances you could get. For me, I didn’t really have anyone that has anything to do with racing, I’m literally number one in the family that is doing something like this. 

Just go for it and you’ll see where it takes you. If it’s something for you, if it’s not something for you, you’ll never know unless you try. Maybe you’re more of a fan than a driver and that’s perfectly fine! Just go ahead and take the shot and do it.

Q: Where can people follow you along on your journey?

Maral: I’m active on Instagram and LinkedIn! You just have to type out my name and I should come up!

It is so inspiring to learn more about Maral’s racing story. Make sure to follow along on her socials so you don’t miss out on anything. Be sure to join the Formula Woman base on FanAmp for updates and information on competitions, events, and all things racing!

FanAmp Interview with Maral Ghazarian

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