This B.C. Teen Race-Car Driver Inspires Girls To Explore Automotive Careers

March 8, 2024

Nicole Havrda is an 18-year-old from Comox Valley, B.C., who is currently racing in Formula 3, with the goal of eventually driving in Formula 1. As part of International Women’s Day (IWD), she is working with Mercedes-Benz to inspire more girls to explore opportunities in the automotive space. —Noa Nichol

Please tell us a bit about yourself to start, and about your car-racing career!

My name is Nicole Havrda. I am 18 year-old professional race car driver. I’m currently racing in Formula 3 where I’m the first ever woman to win the Formula Pro USA F3 Western Championship. My goal is to one day race in Formula 1. I fell in love with motorsport when my dad took us to a Formula 1 race in Austria during a family vacation. Watching the race from the grandstands, I knew I wanted to be on the track one day. I have always been competitive. Before motorsport, I was a competitive swimmer with a dream of making to the Olympics. After that trip, I channeled by competitive energy into motorsports and started racing go-karts competitively at age 12 and by age 14 I was racing powerful sportscars like the Mercedes-AMG GT4.

Tell us about your mission to inspire more girls to explore opportunities in the automotive space, and about teaming up with Mercedes-Benz/Big Brothers Big Sisters to do this. 

I love sharing my journey to inspire girls to challenge the status quo. Just because you don’t see a lot of girls doing something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go after it. I would love to see more women in the automotive industry and I’m so happy to team up with Mercedes-Benz to celebrate International Women’s Day. The state-of-the-art new facility at Mercedes-Benz Kelowna is an amazing venue to showcase career paths that exist in automotive. This event is part of a Mercedes-Benz initiative called “Driving Your Future”. With “Driving Your Future” Mercedes-Benz has partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters to ignite the potential of youth through mentorship. Events like today are opportunities to inspire and empower young people to take the drivers seat and “drive their futures.” I’m proud to be a part of it and work with Mercedes-Benz to inspire more girls to explore opportunities in automotive.

What’s it like being a woman in the male-dominated world of competitive racing? Challenges and benefits? Roadblocks and triumphs?

I do think there are times when I have been underestimated or not taken seriously as a racer because I don’t fit the traditional mold. My approach has been not to focus on this, and instead focus on myself and finding ways to consistently improve as a racer. At the end of the day, when you put your helmet on and get behind the wheel, the car doesn’t care if you’re a man or a woman. I’m happy to be a role model for girls who are interested in racing, however I hope one day that I will be one of many and it won’t be as notable to be a woman in the sport.

What’s next for you?

My goal is to race in Formula 1. To get there, I’m working on winning more championships and moving up the ranks of motorsports. While doing so, I’m happy to be an example to girls that they can find success in motorsport – or in any field they want to pursue. Just because they don’t see a lot of girls doing something, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t go for it!

We also asked Stephanie Ramey, National Manager of Network Development and Customer Experience at Mercedes-Benz Canada: What are some opportunities in the automotive space women can and should consider, and why?

I would love to see more young people, especially girls, explore opportunities in the automotive industry. Working in this industry is exciting and rewarding, especially for car lovers. Technology is constantly advancing, which means job descriptions are consistently evolving; this creates a lot of opportunity. There are career paths centred around technology and vehicles. For example, technicians are always in high demand. This is an exciting role where you can be hands-on with the latest technological innovations. As we see more girls studying in STEM, I hope to see more female technicians in our dealerships in the years to come. This is also a customer-centric industry and we are consistently looking for enthusiastic, talented people to interact with our customers in the showroom in sales and service capacities. I have been in the automotive industry my entire career, working in a variety of roles, such as sales, customer service, HR, and now as the point of contact between Mercedes-Benz Canada and our 59 dealerships across the country. It’s a big industry that requires a wide variety of skillsets. I encourage young people to learn about the industry and the career paths that exist within it.


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