A West Midlands woman has her sights set on becoming the next female motorsport star after storming through to the finals of an international competition.
Despite having no prior experience as a driver, Beki Apparicio’s natural talent saw her selected as one of around 70 finalists, whittled down from 800 applicants from 28 countries, in the Formula Woman contest.
Beki is a dog groomer by trade, running her own business in Solihull, but she has a passion for motorsport, inspired when she got together with her partner Joe Walsh seven years ago.
Beki, 26, and 31-year-old carpenter Joe love watching Formula 1 and all motorsport. They have a canvas picture of Ayrton Senna above their bed and one of their four dogs is called Mika, after Mika Hakkinen.
They even have a life-size racing car simulator in their bedroom, which Beki is now using to practice ahead of the Formula Woman finals in March.
Beki, who runs the Solihull Pooch Parlour, said her interest was piqued when she saw an advert inviting women with no previous motor racing experience to apply for a place with Formula Woman.
“You could be a complete novice, they were just looking for natural ability,” she said. “I completed online courses, track days and simulator days. I think my buzz and enthusiasm for it came across as well as my control and ability to follow the race line and being able to take on the constructive criticism.
“They whittled it down from 800 applicants to around 70 and I couldn’t believe it when I got through. I cried when I heard, and Joe was delighted. It took a while to sink in. A few of the women had a background working in motorsport, but I had no experience at all. It has already been an amazing experience, but it would just be phenomenal to get further in the competition.”
The finals are due to be held in the UK at the beginning of March, but the exact details have not yet been announced.
In the meantime, Beki is working on her fitness and nutrition as well as practicing on the driving simulator.
She said: “It’s like half a Formula 1 car in the bedroom and I do a few laps on that every day. You can choose different tracks to get used to the different layouts, it is very realistic.
“We even have a canvas above the bed of Ayrton Senna, so I am literally living, breathing and sleeping it!”
Beki’s achievement is all the more remarkable as she also has type 1 diabetes and mental health issues. But she is letting neither hold her back.
“In my teenage years I tried to ignore the diabetes, but that was a silly thing to do. Now I’ve learned to control it; it doesn’t control me.
“My insulin is delivered by an Omnipod Pump and I use a Freestyle Libre sensor. These pieces of equipment have been a game-changer for me.
“The sensor lets me check my blood using my smart phone with a quick scan instead of having to finger prick 10 times a day. An alarm lets me know if my blood sugar levels are high or low, so I always know if I am safe.
“When I’m driving anything can affect it – adrenaline, caffeine, even sunshine – so it’s always a learning curve, but I’m still in control.”
Beki is now also a campaigner for mental health charity Mind, after it gave her some much-needed support and advice following a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder, helping her to control that condition as well.
She hopes her story to inspire others who feel they may be disadvantaged in some way to have the courage to try something new – and to encourage more women to get involved in motor racing.
“Sometimes, we are our own biggest critic and we tell ourselves we can’t do something, but we need to ignore that. I would say to people just go for it. Because you will probably surprise yourself with what you are capable of. And it will give you a huge confidence boost. It has for me.”
After the finals in March, the competitor numbers will be whittled down and eventually four ultimate winners with two reserves will be selected. They will get to drive a McLaren 570S GT4 in the GT Cup.
“That is the ultimate goal, that would be so surreal,” added Beki. “But if I don’t get that far, it has already been an amazing experience. We are talking about getting our own cheap track car so it won’t be the end of my motor racing journey.”
Beki already has some sponsors lined up, but she is looking for more. “That would allow me to boost my following on social media by helping to get my face out there,” she said. “It would also help to show others the amazing work that Formula Woman are doing to diversify the world of motorsports by getting more females involved.”
Anyone interested can get in touch by emailing Beki on [email protected] or messaging her on Instagram @bekiana.
To find out more about Formula Woman, visit https://www.formulawoman.co.uk/