Motor sport

Racing driver with strong Limerick roots makes waves in motorsport

IF YOU HAVE seen a close-up of Alice Powell’s helmet after taking the checkered flag at Silverstone in front of over 100,000 fans last month, you would have spotted British and Irish flags.

The 28-year-old racing driver was born in Chipping Norton, England, but comes from Limerick lineage. She’s competing in the revolutionary women-only W Series, which supports Formula 1 this year. Alice, who learned to drive a car at just six, is currently second after another podium finish in Hungary this weekend.

Her roots in Limerick are very important to her.

“My grandfather (Jim Fraser) always talks about Limerick and our close connection to those close to us in Limerick. The last time I was in Limerick was when my fiance James took me there for a weekend in 2018 to propose me. I had planned to go to Ireland with my friends in April 2020, but we had to cancel our plans due to Covid-19. I plan to go back soon, ”said Alice.

She has family ties to the city, Grandpa Jim grew up on Barrington, Mungret, Effin and Galbally streets where the Frassers are the undertakers.

Alice’s dream is to become the first successful female driver in Formula 1, but unlike most sports, talent alone won’t get a person to the top.

“Drivers have to find up to 8 million euros to pay for the lower floors. Until the W Series picked me, I had been trying to find the budget for four years to step onto the Formula 1 ladder. I keep my options open, with many other racing series like the Formula E, also an option.

“Earlier today, I was invited by Envision Virgin Racing (Richard Branson) to be their simulator and development driver for Formula E, which are all electric cars. I intend to do this job. besides trying to reach F1, ”said Alice, who is well aware of the risks involved every time she is strapped.

“The cars we drive are going over 150 mph, and if you walk right into a barrier at that speed, you will hurt yourself. I coached my friend Billy Monger, and when he hit the back of a car at 17 he lost both legs. You have to forget the dangers, ”said Alice, who set up a JustGiving page for the family of a Field Marshal killed at Brands Hatch over the weekend.

When not in the air, behind the wheel, coaching, mentoring or commenting, she can be found operating machines in the family business.

“I still have arguments with my grandfather, who to this day still wants me to do construction work, into which I fit in when I can!” The race is very busy right now, ”smiles Alice. Grandpa Jim said he was “naturally proud of Alice”.

“I’m trying to instill in him the principles that I found at St Munchin’s College. It’s only when you leave Limerick and travel the world that you realize what a great place it is. Although Alice was born in the UK she still feels a bit like a Limerick girl and that is why she has always worn the Irish tricolor on her racing helmet and shows the flag on Alice’s tweets Powell, ”said Jim, who expressed his gratitude to the priests of St Munchin in 1956.

“Despite my failing my intermediate exam through my fault, the priests really inspired me, especially on the evenings when we had debates, because these debates inspired me and made me who I am today. I am eternally grateful for their patience with me. I never got tired of watching the opening of the new St Munchin’s College in Corbally on the internet when Bishop Murphy (my former science teacher) helped open it, ”said Jim, who is eager to return. in Limerick with Alice to see family and pay homage at her parents’ graves to Effin and Galbally.