Combining passion for visual art with that of motorsports is not as unusual as one would think (e.g., Kevin Page, John Thawley, and Masha Pasichnyk). Nevertheless, I have never known of an art historian who fused their vocation with motorsports but I managed to find a way for both passions to coexist. Inasmuch as I can find historical, design, and scientific commonalities between art and Formula 1 (my favorite motorsport) there is little I can build upon to create a cohesive branch of art history, to my satisfaction. Instead, I decided to sponsor the University of Washington's Formula Motorports team through the CORAI Project and individually collaborate with other motorports related causes from an art-related angle. Never, during the foundation process of CORAI, did I think about collaboration between it and motorsports. Now into this endeavor, I can see it was a matter of time until it happened.
I grew up in a home where motorsports were important part of family entertainment and a fun exercise. Both my father and brother were motocross racers and avid general motorsports fans. I was allowed to practice on my brother's dirt bike and, from time to time, assisted my dad with mechanics during the weekends at home or at races. My dad taught me to drive manual transmission cars at age 4 and by the time I got my first car, a bottle green 1997 convertible Chrysler Sebring, I was the only one amongst my friends who could do all the basic mechanical maintenance by herself. Smelling like petrol smoke and grease was our usual musk at the end of these days -- even as an adult who spends her days in highly sanitized museum/gallery spaces, those smells (that usually give anyone a headache) make me feel saudade.
To this day, I can barely wait for March to November Sunday races. (I must admit that I've become a fan of Formula E so my weekends are getting more exciting as the years go by.) As a child I used to watch Formula 1 races with my dad and sometimes we needed to wake up in the middle of the night to catch a race. I remember that horrible April/May weekend in 1994 and still recall my dad watching the news the next day -- Ratzenberger and Senna will remain in my memory until time decides to take it away. I remember the pride of seeing a Colombian pilot win a Formula 1 race for the first time, set the fastest lap at Monza in a Williams FW36, and fantastically duel Schumacher on the track everytime he could (¡gracias Montoya!).
However, in the world that I made for myself there is little space for motorsports. My museum work has focused on children, historical, contemporary art, and natural history institutions not transportation; my art history research threads on ivory tower paths, as much as I tailor it to my interests; and my 'extra curricular' activities focus on art and culture with a dash of sociopolitical justice. I haven't owned any type of vehicle in more than 8 years (but I thank you Zipcar) and can only watch weekend races when time permits as most museums have weekend events and other community programming then. As I start to move away from art institutions to do other nonprofit work, it is my hope to bring back motorsports into my life.
Just like I created CORAI to bring light to those voices whose knowledge has been ignored or repressed in art history, I want to use it to also support youth-at-risk, minorities, and girls/women who have an interest in a male-of-a-certain-background-dominated industry, like motorsports, a 'bump' of encouragement and access to resources to reach their goals. I want to see less girls/women discouraged from racing, engineering and other science fields, etc. I believe in STEAM and the wonderful benefits it can have on the global community. We need new sources of ideas, distinct from the status quo; It is the difference in ideas, perspectives, critical thinking, and personal backgrounds that give way to groundbreaking change: as long as there is openness and respect from all involved. I have hope I can keep my two interests (arts & culture and 'the need for speed') harmoniously involved with each other for a long time. Most importantly, I hope that in the process others benefit from this... more than me.