On your marks…get set…race!
Tara Eichenberger racing in Wackersdorf
Several professional golfers attribute their early days at their parents’ local golf course to be what sparked their interest in the sport. The same is true for Tara and Gaia Eichenberger, but not in the way you might think. Simply taking their parents’ golf cart for a spin around the course, under adult supervision, ignited a fascination with driving. “My sister and I always wondered what driving a golf cart would be like. After a lot of begging, my parents let us steer them from time to time, when we were far enough from the clubhouse. It was so cool”, says Tara.
The Eichenberger sisters realized the value of team work from a young age. “Being small, neither could reach the pedals while simultaneously steering. So we had to work together, while driving on our own, when our parents weren’t looking. One of us handled the pedals while the other steered. But it wasn’t long before the whole thing got a bit out of hand. That’s when our parents took us to an indoor kart track” says Gaia, the younger one of the Eichenberger pair.
Gaia Eichenberger testing in Genk, Belgium
“I was unfortunately only six years old at the time, and still too young to drive the karts. But after my seventh birthday, I could follow in Tara’s footsteps. I didn’t really enjoy driving those little vehicles, at the start. But that quickly changed when I started to beat my sister’s times, and discovered my “race instinct”. Soon, we wanted to graduate to real race karts and drive on the big outdoor track. But first, we first had to beat a certain lap time, which my father set. It was quite a competitive one. But if we met and beat the time, it meant that he would gift us with the first keys to our own fast machines!”, Gaia continues to share.
The girls have come a long and laborious way from their first experience on the race track. Not only do their karts kick up dust on the tracks in the UAE, but also in Europe. When asked where their favorite race track is – Tara favored a track in Genk, Belgium. “There I achieved my best result in the European Championship. Here in the UAE I really like Al Forsan, which is an interesting track from a driver’s perspective and located in a very nice sports resort”. Tara says. Gaia opted for Adria Raceway in Venezia. Although, Gaia couldn’t help but mention Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi too. “Where else in the world can you drive a kart race on a Formula 1 track? It’s certainly very special. I won the first ever held kart race there in my category, when I was seven”, she shares.
Great passion is fueled by greater inspiration. Both racers revere Ayrton Senna, Formula 1 Championships. Tara also enjoys the driving styles of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Räikkönen, while Gaia cheers on for Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher. Since professional racing was on the table, the Eichenberger sisters were asked what thoughts conquered their minds seconds before starting a race. Tara revealed, “Despite having participated in various races since my humble beginnings, I still get nervous. But as Sebastian Vettel once said – being nervous is okay. It makes you aware and means you still care enough about the craft to give it your best. Sitting on the starting grid, I usually just mentally review what the team and I discussed, reminding myself of the things that I need to focus on. I think of my goal for that race, and I just try to calm my nerves”.
Tara Eichenberger racing in the rain in Ampfing
While Gaia says, “While I’m still quite young, I try to be not too anxious and do my best to calm down. I simply think about what I need to do in the race. Right before the start, I try to empty my mind. Then I just wait until we can drive off. I guess it’s the same with Tara, but as soon as I hit the gas pedal, my nervousness is gone. Once I’m moving, I find myself really enjoying the race”.
Some words of advice Tara has for her female peers are, “If you’re in a sport or in any other activity, where it isn’t common for girls to be involved, don’t think you will never be as good as your male competitors. That might sound a bit odd, but in my experience – girls do still lack a bit of self-confidence sometimes, which seems to come quite naturally to boys. However, I think, the best advice in life for everyone is: “Never give up, even if it seems to be impossible!”
Accompanying her sister’s words of wisdom, Gaia advises “I couldn’t agree more with Tara. Kids should keep trying and never give up. No matter how many times you fail, just stand up again and move on. At the end, it is the only way to victory. Follow your passion! Don’t get discouraged, if it doesn’t work the first time. Aim for your dreams, and you’ll find yourself there someday”.
Both racers nurture a blazing passion and ambition for the sport, with aspirations of becoming professional Formula 1 drivers when they’re older. In order to help them accomplish this dream, they need sponsors with deep faith in their talent and an ability to invest in it. If you’re interested in learning more about the Tara (14) and Gaia (11) Eichenberger, get in touch with them on Facebook.