Discover the only American driver on the grid at the Miami GP: Chloe Chambers
As the mainstream American audience has embraced Formula 1 – the upcoming Miami GP turned into a festival of the sport. While the main event won’t feature an American on the grid, W Series will make up for it: meet the American racing for an American team, making her debut this weekend in the all-female championship.
The upcoming Miami Grand Prix – the first ever edition at the newly-built Miami International Autodrome, a 5,412m street course – is probably one of the most anticipated new F1 venues of the last couple of years. For the first time since the 80s, Formula 1 will have two races on US soil, as the country is witnessing an exponential interest for the sport after decades when F1 struggled to get mainstream attention in one of the world’s crucial automotive markets. Rumors of a GP in New York occasionally appeared – but it would be under the current Liberty Media ownership and a significant effort to make the pinnacle of motor racing more appealing to a younger audience that Formula 1 returned to dream big in the US. In 2023, the series is expected to hold three GPs in America. Part of the reason why F1 struggled to get American interest surely was also a lack of national representation on the grid. With no American team or American driver for a long time, the fans just turned to the domestic motorsport championships. While American talent was certainly abundant, they struggled to make it big – even when the American team did eventually join the grid. The last American driver in F1, Alexander Rossi, completed 5 races for backmarker team Manor in 2015. Albeit not on the grid of the main event, things are about to change at the next Miami GP. With W Series – the first ever all-female single seater championship – joining the F1 support bill in 2021, the category has seen an exponential growth. Created by Catherine Bond-Muir, W Series had just completed its first ever season in 2019 when the pandemic hit. Not only it managed to stay afloat despite having to entirely miss the 2020 season, but W Series returned with a bang in 2021, including a full-house at the season finale in Austin, Texas. This convinced Bond Muir it was the right time to expand internationally – and the American continent was on top of the list. The 2022 calendar features 2 races in Miami, one at COTA and a further double-header as the finale at Mexico City. Then, it was time for an American team: TV personality and Olympic gold medalist – as well as former racing driver – Caitlyn Jenner launched her racing team, announcing two-time champion Jamie Chadwick. What better occasion to give a chance to a talented American driver as well? Meet Chloe Chambers, the 17-year-old racer that will make her W Series debut on American soil, with an American team.
Chambers might be young, but she’s no newbie to motorsports. “I was always kind of exposed to motor racing” – she tells us, recapping her path in the sport. “My dad always watched Formula 1 on the weekends, so I grew up watching F1, and he also did some track days and autocross events in the United States, so I grew up going to those events with my mom.” “I had gotten bored at the track one day and I told my mom that I wanted to drive too” – she continues. “But obviously I was seven years old at the time, so you can't drive a real race car. My parents started researching ways to get into racing and they found out what go-karting was. I started up in New York where I live right now.” After a few years in the competitive ROK and SKUSA series, Chambers made the big step up to single-seaters in 2021, debuting in the US F4 Championship. With Future Star Racing, she had a solid rookie season in a really packed grid, scoring her first points at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Once at the W Series selection tests at Inde Motorsports Ranch, Arizona, her experience of the US-spec F4 car paid off. “The Arizona test was really well organized and I was actually really happy with how it went”, she says. “I think everything went pretty smoothly and I already knew that W Series had a really good reputation and everything that they had done.”
Chambers then advanced to the Barcelona collective test, where she jumped for the first time in the Tatuus F3 Regional car. She had completed a single test day in F3 before, but at the wheel of a significantly different car, the one used in the Formula Regional America.
“I had been doing some simulator work at home, so I knew the track – and also I did a couple test days while I was back home in the F3 cars, so I had some idea. You know, obviously jumping from that F4 car straight into the F3 car is a pretty big jump in itself, and then the US cars and the European cars have some differences that I'll also have to pick up on.” “I think it’s mainly about weight distribution”, she continued, explaining the main differences she had experienced between the two F3 cars. “In the US, the car is really heavy in the rear because of the engine and I think it’s about being able to figure that out and just having to use some different techniques.” For Chambers, it will be her first international campaign – which is also an opportunity to travel and experience places and cultures. The collective test was in fact her first time on a European racetrack. “This is just a really good experience”, she comments, even though she had often been travelling to the UK to visit her father’s family. While racing around the world in a top-class racing series alongside Formula 1 is not exactly a common experience for many people her age, Chambers is also a young woman of many interests, who has to combine sports with school.
“Right now I'm finishing high school in the US, but I finish up in June and then I'm planning on going to university in the US and studying business” – she explains. “That's just kind of an interest that I have and also it'll help me with my racing career.” “Also, outside of racing, I do a lot of competitive swimming. I've been swimming since I was six years old – I've been doing that before I started karting and racing.” Like many athletes that manage to combine different sports at a competitive level, Chloe is trying to take the learnings from one environment to the other and apply the lessons in both worlds. “From swimming I take the competitive aspect of that. Swimming is another sport where it's just you against everybody else – you can visually see where your competitors are. My brother's into soccer so he likes more team-oriented sports. It kind of comes down to how the team performs as a whole.”
This kaleidoscopic approach is also allowing Chloe Chambers to jump back and forth from formula cars to sports cars, as she has recently made her debut in GT racing, alongside racing star Pippa Mann. “I’ve been doing some GT racing in a Porsche GT4 Cayman”, she says. “That's my sponsor's car and to me it’s a really fun experience, just to dip my toes into the GT car world.” “For me, I don't find it to be that difficult, because it's almost like I have a different mindset, going into each weekend. I can just switch it on and off, from GT car to formula car.” A Guinness World Record holder for fastest vehicle slalom, Chloe Chambers has recently started to enjoy some nationwide attention, as she also appeared on an episode of the popular talent show America’s Got Talent. The link with Jenner Racing is certainly going to attract the eyes of the American public – but she will also have a demanding teammate to challenge in the same garage. “I’m just expecting to take a whole lot from this and just learn a bunch” – she plays it down. “Obviously the car is new for me and all the tracks are going to be new. I've only driven at COTA before”. But the first round of the season is the race she has been looking forward to the most: “I am most excited for Miami. It's pretty much my home race, as it's closer to where I live right now compared to COTA. It's in the same time zone so I won't have to deal with jet lag and all that” – continued the driver based in Monroe, New York. “I think being able to go into that first round in Miami with nobody ever being there – that'll really give me a good platform to go from.” The first round of the 2022 W Series season will get underway on Saturday, with the first races scheduled for 09:10 local time. For the first time this year, the American audience will also be able to follow coverage of qualifying and races across the platform of major broadcaster ESPN.