Our current Woman of the Week is Tatjana Hanser. Tatjana started her sporting career in show jumping, and got bitten by the motorsport bug while attending a race weekend. She is currently running a crowdfunding campaign to participate in the 24 Hours of Nürburgring that times out on the 8th of May (check out her page and donate here).
Annika Göcke: What is your first memory of motorsport?
Tatjana Hanser: My first memory of motorsport is my side job in DTM (German Touring Car Masters) in 2004. I was organising the stage show and branding as well as the riser for the chart show – just all the trappings. I also met various racing drivers, engineers and mechanics.
AG That is an interesting start. How did you end up behind the wheel then?
TH I quickly realised that cars, their sound and the smell of fuel are something special. I am somebody who is originally coming from show jumping in the field of horse riding. So I am a lateral entrant. However, I wanted to be more than just a spectator.
When I found out that there are way too few women in the sport, I decided that I wanted to be the one to increase the percentage of female racers overnight. I got my race licence and followed a step by step approach: some tests first, soon after met an acquaintance over Facebook who is active in motorsport for many years and who took me by his hand; he introduced me to different topics and people. And that is how I stepped into a race car and ended up racing.
AG What was your first race?
TH I started racing on my favourite race track, the Nordschleife, in the sublevel of VLN, the RCN (Rundstrecken Challenge Nürburgring) - circuit racing challenge Nürburgring in a BMW in 2013.
AG What do you love about racing?
TH I love the speed and the thrill! I really need this adrenaline rush. And the cooperation of humans and machines is fascinating.
This year I am driving a Porsche in the GT4 class and there will be a short movie filmed during this year's 24 hour race which is surely exciting!
AG In your opinion: what makes VLN special?
TH The Nordschleife! With its nearly 25km, it is the most unique, maddest, dangerous, exciting and amazing race track in the world.
AG How do you support your racing habit?
TH I am paying my racing habit out of my own pocket, also having a side job. Another important thing is looking for sponsors. No way aroundit – no matter how good or talented you are. You won't be able to prove how great you are without the necessary money which is why I am always and continuously looking for sponsors.
AG You said that you are working alongside racing, what do you do?
TH I have a full-time job as administrator in the financial sector. In my side-job I am an instructor for Porsche.
AG What have been the highlights for you thus far?
TH My personal highlight thus far have been competing the 24 hour race last year. When it comes to motorsport this has always been my dream and my aim. And I reached it last year and additionally finished the race which is not usual.
AG Who has been the most supportive of your career thus far?
TH I supported myself. My parents only have a little or no connection to motorsport. My father has been to a few Formula 1 races or joined me at the DTM every now and then but that's it. My mother is rather worried about me and would prefer knitting as my hobby (laughs.) Apart from my my acquaintance mentioned above, I was mainly fighting for myself.
AG What are the biggest challenges facing you in motorsport?
TH To be a woman in a business that has traditionally been the domain of men is the biggest challenge! You partly have to use your elbows to make a clear 'thus far and no further' statement. Sometimes you are being laughed at and the best answer to that is delivering good results and times on track. Dear men, look at my references and my lap times – I have no reason to hide!
AG Have you encountered sexism, and if so how do you deal with it?
TH Unfortunately, this has been the case when some men noticed that I'll be racing on a Porsche in this years 24 hour race. And I was surprised when I found out that they tried to bad-mouth me, stating I wouldn't be good enough for that. But I was able to prove the opposite with a quick reference time and as I said before this is the only way to send them a proper answer. You have to quickly shake these kind of things off, otherwise they make you go crazy.
AG What advice would you give to girls and young women wanting to get into motorsport?
TH Follow your goals! The route becomes the destination is also my motto. No matter how, bite through, continue to fight and live for your passion.