How I Got Started in Motorsport – The Leona Chin Story

Chapter 1: Early Fascination

Growing up, I was always a bit of a tomboy. While other kids were playing with dolls, I was immersed in a world of speed and precision. Cartoons like Initial D, TV shows about cars, and the virtual realm of Gran Turismo were my constant companions. The sleek, powerful machines tearing through the track on my TV screen, the adrenaline rush from virtual races, and the heart-pounding excitement of high-speed chases had me hooked from a very young age.

My fascination with motorsport wasn’t just a passing interest; it was a calling that ignited a fire within me. As I watched my favorite characters maneuver their cars with precision and push the limits of speed, I couldn’t help but feel a deep connection to that world. I knew, even as a child, that I had to be a part of this thrilling and exhilarating universe. Little did I know that this early passion would set the course for an incredible journey ahead.

Chapter 2: Taking the First Step

As a teenager, I could no longer contain my burning desire to experience the thrill of motorsport firsthand. I yearned to get behind the wheel and feel the power of those machines that had captivated me for so long. It was time to turn my dream into a reality.

My classmates, mostly boys, shared my enthusiasm. Together, we formed a tight-knit group of friends who shared a passion for everything automotive. Our weekends were a blend of adrenaline and excitement as we gathered at each other’s houses to play video games, analyze the latest car shows, and soak up the world of speed and precision.

On those weekends, the world was our oyster. We traded schoolbooks for video game controllers, and our afternoons at the local go-kart track became the stuff of legend. The roar of the engines, the smell of burning rubber, and the speed on that tiny track were intoxicating. It was there that I had my first taste of real racing, and I knew without a doubt that this was my calling.

Our adventures didn’t stop at the go-kart track. After the races, we would head to the nearby arcade to continue the thrill virtually, competing in various racing games. The competition was fierce, but it only fueled my determination to get better. The arcade was a training ground where friendships were forged and rivalries were born.

My passion extended beyond motorsport. I was also into music and tenpin bowling, and sports played a significant role in my life. These diverse interests molded me into a well-rounded individual, giving me the skills and mindset needed to tackle the challenges that lay ahead on my journey in the world of motorsport. Little did I know that this eclectic mix of interests would become the foundation upon which I’d build my future success.

Chapter 3: Challenges and Triumphs

Breaking into a male-dominated industry was a formidable challenge, but my unwavering passion and determination drove me forward. With the unrelenting support of my family and friends, I embarked on a journey that would test my mettle, shape my character, and set the wheels in motion for my motorsport career.

As I obtained my driver’s license, my horizons expanded. I began taking my own car to car events and gatherings, immersing myself further in the captivating world of motorsport. Those events served as a stage for me to learn and grow, to meet like-minded individuals, and to form connections with people who shared my dreams.

But I didn’t confine my dreams to the spectator’s seat. I often attended racing events like the Super GT and Formula 1 at the Sepang Circuit, where I could feel the thundering roar of the engines and the electric atmosphere of competitive racing. The sights, sounds, and palpable excitement of these events were intoxicating, and they fueled my determination to become a part of that world as a participant rather than a mere observer.

It was a pivotal moment when my mom gave me a Nissan 200SX. Little did I know that this car would become the vessel of my dreams—a drift car that I would take to the track to practice and perfect the art of drifting. Drifting, with its screeching tires and smoking rubber, offered a unique and exhilarating path into motorsport. It required precision, control, and an unyielding connection between driver and machine. With the Nissan 200SX, I could finally take my first steps towards mastering this demanding discipline.

The road ahead was fraught with challenges and triumphs, and the adrenaline of racing flowed through my veins. I was setting out on a path that would challenge stereotypes and expectations, ultimately propelling me toward greatness in the world of motorsport.

Chapter 4: The Turning Point

In the journey of life, there are pivotal moments that define who we are and where we’re headed. For me, 2007 was one such moment. It marked a remarkable turning point in my life and my burgeoning career in motorsport. The opportunity that presented itself was nothing short of extraordinary—it was an invitation to work as a drift car driver in the automotive extravaganza known as X-Tuned.

This was the big break I had been waiting for, the open door to a world of endless possibilities. X-Tuned was not just any automotive show; it was a platform where dreams were realized, and where the boundaries of what could be done with a car were pushed to the limit. The show was a stage for me to showcase my burgeoning talent and refine my driving skills. With every precise maneuver, every artful drift, and every adrenaline-pumping stunt, I was sculpting myself into a motorsport force to be reckoned with.

X-Tuned provided the ideal environment for me to fine-tune my driving skills, and it was here that I discovered the true extent of my potential. It wasn’t just about speed; it was about control, precision, and pushing the limits of what a car could do. The thrill of these performances ignited my passion further, and I found myself living the dream I had nurtured for so long.

But the impact of this turning point extended far beyond the confines of X-Tuned. It opened the door to an array of exhilarating experiences. Soon, I was gracing motorsport events and shows around the world. From the heart-pounding excitement of competitive racing to the awe-inspiring artistry of precision driving, my career was taking flight, and the world was beginning to take notice of the name Leona Chin.

This was not just a turning point in my career; it was a turning point in my life. I was breaking barriers, challenging stereotypes, and carving a niche for myself in a world where few had ventured before. The road ahead was paved with new challenges and opportunities, and I was ready to embrace them all. The turning point had set me on a trajectory toward a future that held the promise of endless adventures in the world of motorsport.

Chapter 5: Overcoming Stereotypes

In the exhilarating world of motorsport, I found myself in a position that was far from ordinary. As a female racer in a predominantly male-dominated sport, I knew from the outset that I would be navigating uncharted territory. The track was not just where the rubber met the road; it was where stereotypes and prejudices often collided with my determination and passion.

I had grown used to hearing murmurs and encountering raised eyebrows as I strode into the male-dominated arena. It seemed that many believed my place should be on the sidelines rather than behind the wheel. Yet, as someone who had lived and breathed motorsport from an early age, I knew that my passion and skills spoke louder than any preconceived notions or gender stereotypes. It was my mission to let my driving do the talking and defy expectations every time I stepped onto the track.

Consistency became my greatest ally. With each race, I proved that gender had no bearing on my ability to handle a car at high speeds, navigate treacherous curves, and push the limits of my machine. The only thing that mattered on the track was the skill and determination that each driver brought to the table. My victories and my journey began to speak for themselves, and gradually, those stereotypes that had initially plagued me began to crumble.

As my racing career progressed, it was not just on the local tracks that I made my mark. One of the most transformative experiences occurred when I participated in the 2015 F-Team China reality automotive TV show. This venture took me to the vast and dynamic world of motorsport in China, where I gained insights into the incredible diversity of disciplines and driving skills that existed beyond my previous horizons.

This journey was an eye-opener, revealing just how big and varied the world of motorsport truly was. For some drivers, stunt driving was a daily routine that pushed the boundaries of what could be done with a car. Rally drivers in China were awe-inspiring, navigating a vast landscape of terrains that presented unique challenges. The sheer size of the country allowed for immense modifications to rally cars, and it was a testament to the incredible budgets at their disposal.

But it wasn’t just rallies and stunts. I had the opportunity to experience the emerging world of electric vehicle (EV) rally cars, the heart-pounding excitement of crazy buggy rallying, and the precision and intensity of circuit racing. The world I had known was now expanded, and the broad spectrum of motorsport disciplines I encountered was nothing short of breathtaking.

This experience not only enriched my knowledge and honed my skills but also reinforced my determination to overcome stereotypes and continue breaking down gender barriers. Motorsport, I realized, was a language spoken with skill and passion, and it transcended any preconceived notions or biases. I had come a long way, and the road ahead was clear—my journey was far from over, and there was much more to explore and conquer in the world of motorsport.

Chapter 6: Inspiring Others

Throughout my incredible journey in motorsport, I’ve come to realize that it’s not just about personal accomplishments and fulfilling my own dreams. It’s equally about inspiring others, particularly young girls and women who dare to dream big and break through the barriers that have traditionally stood in their way. I’ve made it my mission to empower them to pursue their passions, no matter how unconventional or male-dominated they might be. Through mentorship, motivational talks, and various outreach programs, I’ve had the privilege of making a positive impact on countless lives.

One of the most rewarding aspects of my career has been my involvement with events and initiatives that promote gender diversity and encourage women to participate in motorsport. These efforts serve not only to provide opportunities but also to shatter misconceptions about what women can achieve in this thrilling world.

One standout event that deserves mention is the Sodi Ladies Cup in 2022. This event was a significant platform for inspiring ladies to step into the realm of motorsports. It provided an opportunity for female racers to showcase their skills and passions, further breaking the gender stereotypes that have long haunted the industry. Encouraging participation and recognition of women in motorsport is crucial, and the Sodi Ladies Cup was a remarkable step in the right direction.

The Proton R3 team, an all-female racing team established in 2019, was another milestone. Their presence and achievements in motorsport highlighted the capabilities of women in a field traditionally dominated by men. The team’s success underscored that, with determination and talent, women could stand shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts on the racing circuit.

Red Bull, a brand synonymous with high-performance racing, recognized the potential of female racers and established the Red Bull Rookies all-female racing team in 2008. This groundbreaking initiative gave young, talented female racers a platform to showcase their skills and compete at the highest levels of motorsport. It was a crucial step toward fostering gender diversity in a sport that had long been seen as exclusive.

Another unforgettable moment in my journey was racing alongside Adele in the Sepang 1000km for BWT Malaysia in 2022. Competing as an all-female team, we defied expectations and displayed the collective talent, determination, and skill of female racers. It was more than just a race; it was a message to the world that women could excel in a high-pressure environment, including endurance races.

These experiences have shown me the transformative power of representation and encouragement in motorsport. By actively participating in these events and advocating for gender diversity, I aim to break down stereotypes and pave the way for more women to follow their dreams in motorsport. The road to equality in this industry is still long, but the journey is rewarding, and the impact is profound.

Inspiring others, particularly young girls and women, to defy conventions and pursue their dreams is an enduring mission for me. Every girl who dreams of being a racer, mechanic, or any other role in motorsport should know that the possibilities are limitless. The journey may be challenging, but the thrill of breaking barriers and racing toward your dreams is a reward like no other. And as my journey in motorsport continues, I look forward to even more opportunities to inspire and empower the racers of tomorrow.

Chapter 7: Present Day

As I stand here today, I reflect on my incredible journey, from that young girl who couldn’t take her eyes off racing events on TV to the professional racing driver and stunt performer proudly representing Malaysia on the international motorsport stage. My journey in motorsport has been filled with highs, lows, challenges, and triumphs, and it continues to be an exhilarating ride.

My passion for motorsport has only grown stronger with time. I’ve had the privilege of participating in various motorsport disciplines, each with its unique challenges and thrills. Drifting, touring cars, and more have been a part of my diverse career, allowing me to explore different facets of the motorsport world.

And as I stand in the present day, I look to the future with an unwavering determination to keep pushing the boundaries. Racing still flows through my veins, and my dreams continue to evolve. While I’ve achieved remarkable success in my career, I’m not ready to rest on my laurels. There’s a whole world of motorsport out there, and I’m eager to conquer new horizons.

International racing is my next frontier. I aspire to race overseas, representing my beloved Malaysia on the global motorsport stage. Whether it’s in the touring car category, GT racing, or emerging EV-related races, I’m open to the endless possibilities that motorsport has to offer. The future is uncertain, but one thing is for sure—I’m ready to embrace it with open arms and my foot on the accelerator.

My journey from being a young, motorsport-obsessed girl to an international racing driver has been nothing short of a thrilling adventure. The road ahead is still full of twists, turns, and surprises, but that’s what makes it all the more exciting. My passion for motorsport remains unshaken, and I can’t wait to see where the next chapter of my journey takes me.

This isn’t just a career; it’s a way of life, a journey, a calling. I invite you to stay tuned, as I continue to chase my dreams, break through boundaries, and leave a trail of burning rubber on the racetracks of the world. The road may be long, but it’s one heck of a ride! Who knows what’s around the next corner, but I’m ready to find out.

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