Racing Lives: Dean & Esmee Hawkey

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

179

Current page

80

Current page

83

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Current page

153

Current page

154

Current page

155

Current page

156

Current page

157

Current page

158

Current page

159

Current page

160

Current page

161

Current page

162

Current page

163

Current page

164

Current page

165

Current page

166

Current page

167

Current page

168

Current page

169

Current page

170

Current page

171

Current page

172

Current page

173

Current page

174

Current page

175

Current page

176

Current page

177

Current page

178

Current page

179

Current page

180

Current page

181

Current page

182

Current page

183

Current page

184

Current page

185

Current page

186

Current page

187

While hardly a surname that is  steeped in motor racing history, the Hawkey family is making its mark through some top championships. Esmee is perhaps the driver you’ll know best thanks to her dual campaign in the new W Series and the Porsche Carrera Cup GB. It’s an ambitious season for the 21-year old from Chislehurst, but she was inspired by her father, Dean, who has a more unconventional background. Interviews by James Mills.

Dean Hawkey with a young Esmee, and her younger brother, Ethan. Karting first sparked the family’s racing passion

Dean: “You could say I’m a frustrated racing driver and that I’m living out my ambitions through Esmee.

At the age of 14 I chose between karting and motocross, and opted for motocross. But it’s a good job I did because that’s how I met Esmee’s mother, Nicolle, when I was 19, at a race weekend in Holland.

By 21, I focused on my new business and didn’t return to anything competitive for another seven years. It was Terry Rymer, a great friend, who suggested we go karting. So the pair of us bought karts and went to our local circuit where we messed around, and I thought, ‘I rather like this’.

So then I threw myself into it, entering the most competitive series – Formula A in the British Championship – with a Rotax Tony kart. I was racing against people like Jenson Button, Jamie Green, Dan Wheldon, Susie Stoddart and Anthony Davidson. It really was a golden age of karting then.

The trouble was, they didn’t like it. They’d all been racing together from eight to 16, and suddenly a 28-year-old turns up and is running at the front of the grid. It’s never happened before, and in such a cliquey sport they’re all asking ‘Who is this guy?’.

After karting, I was making a bit of money on the side by buying BMW M3s in Germany, with Terry, and selling them in the UK. We stumbled across a little car lot near the Nürburgring, and over time we’d go on to buy about 40 M3s from the place.

The guy that was running it was Alexander Böhm, who went on to establish Black Falcon, which is one of the big racing teams in Germany, and he suggested we did some endurance races together at the Nürburgring. We did the 24-hour race, in a BMW M3, the VLN for three seasons and the Dubai 24 Hours.

Dean Hawkey in the Team Osborne Racing Ginetta G50 at Brands Hatch in 2010, his one round of the series

With the kids growing up, I found time for one more race in the British GT Championship, driving a Ginetta in the GT4 class, and there was karting at the Monaco Cup six hour race. So mine wasn’t exactly an orthodox path through motor sport.

But it was enough to sow the seed for Esmee and her brother Ethan. She used to love watching us at the Monaco Cup. Growing up, she was quite a shy little girl, but underneath it all she’s always been very determined.

Initially, Nicolle and I weren’t sure what to expect when we got her a kart. We thought Esmee just wanted to have a bit of fun and didn’t dream that we’d all go on the journey that we have experienced.

She won her first novice race and that was it – we were off! My dad would mechanic for Esmee and I’d be with Ethan, her younger brother. Esmee would joke that Ethan was the golden child.

It’s a lifestyle choice, I suppose. People outside of motor sport can’t understand what you have to put into it, the commitment in terms of time, finances and the mental side of it. But what you shouldn’t do is dwell on things, which is a lot harder to do than it sounds. For example, Esmee was racing in the Porsche Carrera Cup at Croft and had a terrible weekend. She was off the pace; she crashed the car in practice; she finished low down the order.

Ordinarily, we would analyse the race weekend. But at the end of this one I said, ‘We’re not going to talk about it, because nothing positive will come of it. Let’s focus on the next round, at Oulton Park, in two weeks.’ We went there and she had a great weekend.

So as a parent you have to help your child stop things consuming them. Focus on the positives and be there for them. It’s hard to do but it’s incredibly rewarding when it all comes good.”


Esmee: “The racing bug started because of dad. From a young age I would go and watch my father racing. The Monaco Kart Cup left the most lasting impression. It was a street circuit, all very glamorous for a kart race, and my younger brother, Mum and I would go with Dad.

You could watch the karts charge around the swimming pool complex. Back then, I’d jump into my Dad’s kart and it was huge for me. From the surrounding environment, I’d assumed it wasn’t something that girls could do, but by the time I was seven years old I asked Dad whether girls could race, and was surprised to learn it was possible.

This seemed to set off something in Mum and Dad, because for my eighth birthday I was given a Cadet kart. Dad hid it in a van he had from work, and told me he had a surprise for me.

It was a surprise… in more ways than one. It was second-hand, and for whatever reason all the body panels were covered in stickers of flowers. Straight away, I asked, ‘Can we take all those flowers off it?’ It wasn’t very motor sport.

My grandfather worked as my mechanic for years and years through the karting scene. It meant we were very close. Once I’d got enough signatures to upgrade to a yellow plate in the Cadets, I got my head down and was battling for the championship. At the final race, at Ellough Park, [in Suffolk] I had set the fastest lap and was doing everything right to take the championship until I was punted off. It was gutting.

But there was a silver lining. Lawrence Tomlinson of Ginetta had been watching and saw a lot of potential in me, and gave me a scholarship for the Ginetta Junior Championship in 2015.

It was a great platform to get into car racing and taught me a lot of race craft, but the race weekends rarely went my way. Then came the GT Cup; I competed in a Porsche Cayman GT4, and at the end of my first season, I was runner up in my class.

“My leg was broken, but the adrenaline had been keeping me going”

So my sights were set on winning the following year. But during a test day at Brands Hatch I spun off at Clearways and was pushing so hard on the brake pedal that I locked out my leg.

I climbed out of the car and was walking around, looking at the wreckage, and then the medics arrived, when suddenly I lost my vision and shouted to the medical team, before collapsing. My leg was broken and adrenalin had been keeping me going.

After having most of the year off, I came back for the last race at Donington and won, which I needed to motivate me.

If I thought there was a big jump from the Ginetta Junior to the Cayman GT4, it was nothing compared to moving on to the Porsche Carrera Cup. The 911’s a tricky car to drive; there’s a very fine line between being absolutely on it and a couple of tenths off the pace.

Equally difficult is the cost of running the car. I’m lucky to have sponsors that have supported me for a number of years. And I think that being female helps simply because you’re a rarer quantity in motor sport, which maybe makes me more marketable.

After graduating from Ginetta Juniors, Esmee Hawkey is competing in both Porsches and single-seaters

Dad has supported me, too. He’s been a huge part of my career. I’ve looked up to him ever since those early days of karting, and he and Mum even backed my decision to put my accountancy exams on hold once I was selected to go through to the final selection rounds of the W Series. Handing in my notice, after two and a half years of hard work, was kind of scary but looking back I wouldn’t do it any differently. You just have to give it your all.

We don’t see enough women in the world of motor sport. Hopefully W Series can fire lots of them into different racing series. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and Sean [Wadsworth, chairman of W Series] deserves praise for having the vision and courage to make it happen. We don’t pay for our drive and they don’t expect anything in return from the drivers. But they will need sponsors to give it long-term viability.

The pressure during the qualifying stages for the W Series was tough. They threw everything at us over long days: skid pans, doing donuts, physical challenges, mid-engined rear-wheel drive cars, front-engined, front-wheel drive cars – I gave it my absolute maximum.

There was a great team spirit at the start, and it was nice to make new friends, but it was survival of the fittest. And that continues in the championship, where we’re friendly off track but real rivals on track.

It’s a great way to propel us into higher classes. Hopefully we’ll see a few more names follow Jamie Chadwick [Williams development driver] into Formula 1, one way or another.”


Follow James on Twitter @squarejames

You may also like

Related products