Samantha Tan blazes the trail for Asian women in racing
Samantha Tan is a racing driver. Last year, she and her team piloted a BMW M4 GT4 racer to the championship, never finishing worse than second and dominating in the points standings. This year, moving up to the faster GT3 class, she gave the brand new BMW M4 GT3 racing chassis its very first racing win, at the 12 Hour Mugello race in Italy. It had been a ten year drought for BMW in this particular endurance racing series, and now a Canadian racing team with two Canadian drivers stood on the podium as “O Canada“ played.
Even the motorsports illiterate can get behind this kind of moment. Endurance racing sports cars look like the kinds of cars you actually see on the street, and the skill and endurance required to run them for 12 or 24 hours at full tilt is the kind of effort that needs no further explanation. To be successful in this arena, you need skill and focus and drive, and also the ability to protect your machine and get it to the finish line.
To see a privateer team waving the maple leaf from the top of the podium feels good. To be watching a young Canadian racing driver on a career trajectory that is likely going to require building an extension on to her rapidly filling trophy cabinet is certainly worth cheering about. But Tan is also a trailblazer in this sport, and the change she brings has been a long time coming.
“I have my own personal goals,” she says, “But I also want to be the role model I never had.”
Generational change is long overdue, but it’s coming. To the more than 100,000 fans who follow her on Instagram, Samantha Tan has already proved that a female driver of Asian ancestry can not just compete with other elite drivers, but win. More than just driving, she’s also managing her racing team, recruiting drivers, dealing with sponsors, and up until recently, handling all of the branding efforts required for any modern racing driver.