Rising Stars Profile Vol.11 – Emma Wigroth & Skye Parker

FIA Girls on Track – Rising Stars special series

In October, this year’s edition of FIA Girls on Track – Rising Stars program conclueded the Shoot-Out and Training Camps stages. Both categories have now reached its final stage. Four drivers in the Senior category went to Maranello for the Formula 4 Scouting Camp earlier this month. Four drivers in the Junior category is currently battling it out in the FDA Kart Scouting Camp Two this week.

Our Rising Stars profile series is still ongoing. Today, we give you Emma Wigroth in the Senior category and Skye Parker in the Junior category.

Emma Wigroth

Emma Wigroth is 16 years old from Sweden. She currently competes in the Formula Nordic Cup and finished the season in 7th with a best result of 4th in the race. Prior to this season, she competed in the Swedish Karting Championship.

Photos © Emma Wigroth

Paddock Sorority (PS): Can you tell us about your first exposure to motorsport and how you started karting? How was your first experience in a go-kart?

Emma Wigroth (EW): Yeah, I was actually brought up on the Swedishracing tracks because my dad has a team. So I have always been around and been at the racing tracks and I have always seen these big stars here in Sweden. They have always been like idols. And then one day like 9 years ago, when I was about 7 I think, we had a thing called grid kids instead of grid girls, and then they asked me about the go-karts. Then I went to my dad and I was like, dad, I haven’t been trying out go-karts, and then within like a week, I was testing a kart. It was really, really fun. I love this since the start, obviously. I really liked it, and now I’m here.

PS: What made you decide you want a career as a professional driver?

EW: I really got passionate about the sport. I really wanted to go professional because I had seen all the big idols I have here in Sweden. They are so professional and I really looked up for them. When I started, it was a hobby, then when I got the results, and I got more passionate for every race, I then I said to myself ‘let’s do this. We are going professional.’

PS: You mentioned there are many drivers in Sweden that you look up to. Is there one specific racing idol for you? How have they impacted you and your racing?

EW: There is many, but I would say especially two persons – Richard Göransson and Fredrik Ekblom. They have been driving for my father’s team. They have always been like role models for me. Of course my dad is also an idol for me.

I’ve seen them since I was at a very young age. When I started with karting, they would always encourage me.If I ask them for tips, for example now I’m racing single-seaters, they would always help me out. I will always have these people that I really look up to.

PS: Has there been a very difficult time in your career? How did you get through it?

EW: I had a really difficult time about 3 years ago, because I had a really bad crash and accident in karting. I got injured and couldn’t drive for eight months. It was really hard for me mentally because I got quite bad injuries, I lost feelings in my leg from time to time. It was really bad not knowing if I could go back to racing. My parents, my family, my mechanics and my friends all helped me out. They helped a lot on my mindset, and I could really focus on training. I really wanted to get back in the karts, so I just said to myself, if you want it, you will make it.

PS: That was a low point in your career, what about a career highlight that you would like to share with us?

EW: This Rising Stars program is one of the best things that ever happened in my career. This is such an opportunity. It’s great to be part of this program. Then I would also say when I won the district championship here, that was also great.

PS: Do you think racing Formula Nordic might give you some more advantage in the selection since you already have experience in single seaters?

EW: I think it would help me if I got selected for the next step, but for the shoot-out that’s just karting. I think the other girls might have an advantage because I haven’t been racing karts for a really long time. I did one race in OK this year to try it out because I haven’t driven an OK before.

PS: What are your strengths as a driver? If you want to keep going up the ladder, what do you need to still work on?

EW: I would say it’s my mental strength that I really push hard for the things that I want. I think I need to work a lot on my driving and to develop my driving skills.

PS: How are you juggling school work, training, and racing?

EW: It’s actually quite difficult for me to get enough time for each. Since I’m actually in ordinary school. I go to school from 8am to 4:30pm. If school starts early, I go directly to school. If school starts a bit later, I go to the gym and then to school. After school, I go to the gym, then I go home and study. If there is more time I might have some time with my family, watching a movie, but that doesn’t happen so often. For a race weekend, I watch a lot of on board or work on the simulator to make sure I get to know the track if I haven’t been there. I prepare myself physically and mentally, because going into a race weekend are always difficult.

PS: How did you prepare for the selection in October?

EW: I prepared myself as good as I can. I’ve been working out a lot. I train 1-2 hours each day in the gym, then I go for a run for about half an hour to an hour. I’ve watched all the videos from last year to try to get an inside look of what the girls did last year. I prepared myself mentally, because it’s going to be very tough mentally going there. I got myself a diet advisor, because the food is a really important point in this.

Skye Parker

Skye Parker is 11 years old from the UK. She currently competes in the Ultimate Karting Championship and is the runner-up in the IAME Cadet class this season. Last year, she was the runner-up in the Northern Karting Federation IAME Cadet Championship.

Photos © Skye Parker

Paddock Sorority (PS): Can you tell us about your first exposure to motorsport and how you started karting? How was your first experience in a go-kart?

Skye Parker (SP): My first experience in a go-kart was at my Nana’s (Grandmother’s) house when I was 4 years old. I actually had my first crash on my first time in a go-kart and bent the axle. From then I progressed to weekend sessions, and after school in the summer, at Glan-y-Gors in Wales (the GYG team were nice enough to let me go out when it was quiet). I started racing as a Bambino at Three Sisters Circuit when I was 5 and had my first race as an MSA (now Motorsport UK) licensed driver when I was 6 years old (also as a Bambino).

I loved it… it was excellent fun. When I first started racing with other kids… it was so much better and it just spiralled from there to me now being 11 years old and pretty much in a go-kart every single weekend.

PS: What made you decide you want a career as a professional driver?

SP: I was given the opportunity to be an F1 “Grid Kid”, when I was 8, at Silverstone and up to that point, go-karting was really just a weekend activity that we did, I didn’t really watch motorsport. Going to Silverstone and just the sheer scale of an F1 event was like “wow”… I want to do this!

PS: How are your family supporting you in your career?  

SP: My Dad actually is my mechanic at the track and my mum is starting to be the mechanic for my baby sister Alex (5) whom is starting to get into a kart. Both my parents take my everywhere and virtually all the circuits we race at, nationally, are at least 3hrs away so it’s a lot of travelling at the weekends to keep me in a kart… and they both have day jobs during the week! Karting is pretty much their second job and they are at it pretty much 24/7 and I have two sisters they need take care of. They actually don’t really stop. In a word they are amazing!

PS: Is there a racing idol for you? How have they impacted you and your racing?

SP: Niki Lauda. After his big crash he showed determination by getting back in a car even though he was in pain. He actually came second in the championship that year and won it the year after which is really inspirational.

PS: From whom did you learn the most about racing and driving?

SP: I’ve learnt most actually with my Dad as we started this together with neither of us having a clue what we were doing.

PS: What has been your best memory in your career so far?

SP: My first race win. It was me and my dad at the race. I had two DNFs and a 2nd in the heats. I started the final at the back of the grid but said to my dad “don’t worry Daddy I got this”  AND THEN I WON.

PS: How are you juggling school work, training, and racing?

SP: I’m juggling it ok. I recently moved up to high school so things are a little different, and more difficult, but it seems to be going smoothly and my school is very supportive.

PS: What do you think are your strengths as a driver? What do you need to work on at this point?

SP: My strength is racing in the wet and I’m doing really well there. I struggle more in the dry as I tend to try to carry too much corner speed – which I need to fix by working on my braking to get the kart stopped.

PS: What are your takeaways from the selection process? How does it help you improve in the future?

SP: I need more strength and experience to be competitive. I’m still in the cadet class, my kart is a lot smaller and lighter than the karts being run in the selection process. Mine is 103KG weight with roughly 8HP, whereas an OK Junior was around 140KG and 30hp. I had no experience of such a kart prior to the selection. It’s not a class that I can compete within in the UK for at least a few more years. However it was amazing fun and so much faster than what I am used to and I think I did really well in spite of the difficulties.


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