Putting the work in away from the track


In hindsight I shouldn’t have asked. If you want a short list of drivers who also had interesting jobs outside of motor racing don’t ask Motor Sport writers Paul Fearnley and Simon Arron.

I knew the obvious ones – Tony Brooks: dentist, Adrian Sutil: classically trained pianist – but it’s safe to say that I never knew that Grosjean, while racing in GP2, rushed back to Geneva after every race to work in a bank. Nor did I know about Innes Ireland (below) becoming a trawler captain after retiring from the cockpit or Anthony Reid and Perry McCarthy’s work on oil rigs. I could go on (Arron and Fearnley did)… Andy Wallace: gas fitter and ferret breeder before he started racing, Jean Alesi: panel beater, Helmut Marko: lawyer, Jonathan Palmer: doctor, Danny Sullivan: one-off actor in Miami Vice.

There were also some unsubstantiated money-making schemes which can’t be repeated here (think racing drivers in adult films), but the gist of it was that very few drivers actually held another job while they were racing. Plenty did to make money before and plenty did after.

Racing a G40 in the Ginetta GT5 Challenge this year was Dr Barbara Kubicka from Poland, a qualified aesthetic doctor who has a clinic in London’s Knightsbridge (“there are lots of clinics in this area, it’s the best place to be” – funny old world isn’t it?). OK, she’s not competing in GP2 à la Grosjean, or indeed Formula Ford (as Johnny Dumfries did when doubling as a painter and decorator), but the Challenge is seen as one of the stepping stones on the way to a professional GT career.

“I was pushed into medicine by my mum,” Kubicka says. “It was something she wanted more than I did, but I was very much attracted to motor racing. It’s strange considering that I don’t come from a motor sport family and my father died when I was three years old.”

Aged 17 she started rallying in Poland with her ex-boyfriend – “It wasn’t perfect because we started to compete more against each other than the rest of the field.” Seven years ago Kubicka was co-driving for said boyfriend in a particularly wet rally and, after coming off the road, she jumped out to help push them back on course. She did just that, but before she could properly fasten her seatbelts her boyfriend had set off and managed to roll the car. She flew out of the passenger window and decided soon after that rallying wasn’t for her.

“I said ‘enough is enough’ and came to Britain. I first came over for holidays, returning to Poland to get my qualifications, and then I got a job in a hospital in London. The great thing about moving to Britain was that there were so many options in terms of motor racing. I did some track days to start with and then did the Club 100 karting championship. From there I bought a Mazda MX-5 with a friend to race in some club events, but I wanted to do something a bit more professional.

“When people ask me about becoming a professional racer I have to be realistic in terms of age and the money I have available,” she says. The 31-year-old admits that a career in single-seaters is off the cards, but her aim is to race in the Le Mans 24 Hours. It’s going to be a long road between here and there, though.

Jakob Ebrey Photography

Kubicka was team-mate to two of 2013’s top three GT5 drivers – Oliver Basey-Fisher and Will Burns – and it has been a struggle to get on the pace after so little circuit racing experience. “When I first got in the Ginetta I saw my team-mates on track and did wonder whether I was in the same championship as them. The Ginetta drivers are, by and large, very good and they have a lot of experience because most went through many seasons of karting. Some of them have done junior categories and others have done quite a bit of mid-week testing, which I couldn’t with my clinic. I have had some experience, though, so by the end of the year things were going better.” At Spa (above) she finished in the top 10 and then was hopeful of another good finish in the following three races at Brands Hatch. “I had three brake failures there,” she says, “and you can’t really do much about that.” She finished the season 15th out of 29, which might not bring sports car teams calling but is no bad effort considering she has so little experience and is tied to her clinic every weekday.

Next year she’s staying in the same championship and hopes to challenge at the front now she has a year of racing under her belt. If things go well, Kubicka will be another step closer to her Le Mans dream. At some point, though, she might have to choose between medicine and racing. “I hope,” she says, “that I don’t have to make that choice…”

Click here for more from Ed Foster

history  I was there when... 2010 Korean GP

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