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Gina Ma

Updated: Aug 11, 2020

We had the opportunity to interview Gina Ma, a new driver in her first national season! Gina is a breath of fresh air with her optimistic and fresh outlook on our sport!

What is your name? Gina Ma

What class and car do you drive and what region do you belong to? I drive a 2017 Volkswagen GTI and belong to the New York Region

What is your autocross story? How did you get started? How long have you been competing? I’ve been actively competing in autocross for a year now since May of 2018. I had a sporty car but was either sitting in traffic all day or driving like a normal person on the road. I never had the chance to really push my car to its limits until I found out about autocross through a Google search. From there, I read the description of autocross, looked up videos on YouTube, and searched for local events. I could feel myself falling in love with the idea of unlocking the hidden potential of my car.

What has been your biggest challenge in autocross and how did you work to overcome it? I think my biggest challenge was overcoming the feeling that I just didn’t belong in the sport because I was a woman. I heard it from both my parents who would try to discourage me, my parents’ friends, my friends, and very occasionally other drivers. My love for driving has certainly outweighed all the negativity, helping me overcome my initial hesitation and fears. Once I surrounded myself with more positive support, it became easier to tune out the rest. Meeting people who welcome and support me at events has helped more than I could ever imagine.

What has been your biggest achievement? Placing 2nd in Novice class for the 2018 season with the New York Region, which helped solidify my confidence in competing in an open class

What skills are you working on this season and how? I’m still working on adding speed, getting on the gas earlier out of turns, braking earlier, looking ahead, and backsiding—probably a bit of everything! I try to keep two cameras in my car so I can go back and re-watch what I’m doing or so I can share with others to get additional feedback on things I can improve on.

This is your first national year, how exciting! How are you feeling about that? What are your thoughts on national events? Which kind are your favorite and why? Yep, first national year! I absolutely LOVE them! I never thought I would be ready, but I’ve had a lot of fun meeting new people, traveling, and being surrounded by amazingly fast competitors. At national events, there are so many incredible people to look up to and a whole new level of competition that also leads to friendships throughout the country. Overall, I enjoy the fast pace and greater number of runs at ProSolo events compared to Tours, but I also think Finger Lakes was my favorite event because it didn’t rain as much as the others.

What national level events have you done and which are on your calendar for the rest of the season? I have attended NJ ProSolo, Finger Lakes Tour, and Toledo ProSolo. I'm slightly considering Peru and Oscoda. I’m not entirely sure about the later ones because I’ll be entering medical school this fall with a much more limited schedule, but I’m hoping to make time and do many more in the future!

What is it about autocross culture that you like? What about the people? I love the people the most—I couldn’t have asked for a better group of friends! Everyone is willing to reach out to lend a hand or a co-drive. I wasn’t able to bring my GTI to the Toledo ProSolo, but Rachel Leach was more than willing to let me codrive her Honda Civic Si on a last minute notice (thanks Rachel!), while my other wonderful friends have also been there for moral and mechanical support. I honestly can’t thank them enough for everything.

What is your favorite autocross story? Amy, Tonianne, and I rotated the tires on my GTI together and then went out to practice launches in preparation for our very first ProSolo event. We were practicing the staging, countdown, and lights in an empty area on the island. All I remember is Amy counting down 3, 2, 1 before I immediately launched my car. Oops. In the midst of my initial excitement, I’d forgotten about the yellow lights I was supposed to wait for before launching. We had a good laugh about it and after figuring out the best RPMs for launch, we stayed to watch the sunset and take photos. It was just one of those simple yet enjoyable moments feeling surrounded by great company.

When you're not driving, what can you be found doing? I love to draw, hang with my cats or teach them new tricks, play video games, make attempts at cooking, and explore new places and things

Are there other forms of Motorsport that spark your interest or that you plan on giving a try? I'd definitely want to try RallyCross with the SCCA and check that off my bucket list!

What is some advice you would give someone who may be interested in trying or new to autocross? Do it! Don’t let anyone discourage you from your interests. Get out there to have fun and don’t worry too much about how well you do at your first event. Talk with others, make friends, ask for ride alongs, and get an instructor to help you improve faster. It'll be a blast.

How does the #DFT Initiative align with your views? DFT has helped me feel welcome in the sport, and it’s such a wonderful and positive movement that counteracts the belief that women aren’t as good as men as drivers. During my first year, I did very well in Novice class, but I also remember hearing other guys in Novice getting mocked by others for being “slower than a girl” if they placed behind me. Truth was, I wasn’t actually slow. I had trophied several times in Novice class. Yet as a female, I was simply expected to be slower than men—after all, no one would be mocking others for being slower than a guy, would they? If anything, I feel that my success in an open Novice class has shown that women can be very capable drivers, and I hope that it encourages more women to give open a try.

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