From the Girls on Track UK community to Mercedes F1; Isla Mackenzie on her motorsport journey so far
A big part of Motorsport UK’s FIA Girls on Track UK programme centres around showcasing the inspiring females already working in motorsport, through our events and our official Ambassadors. They are only too happy to pass on knowledge and provide advice for women and girls looking to break into the industry.
And it’s even more special when the women sharing their wisdom with our community have been in their shoes and know exactly how to relate to them.
A perfect example of this is Isla Mackenzie, who started out as part of the Girls on Track community and now works as a Dyno Technician at Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team.
We caught up with Isla to find out more about how she broke into the world of motorsport and how the community has helped along the way:
“I grew up on the Isle of Lewis, a little island in the Scottish Outer Hebrides, which at the time felt like a million miles away from Formula 1. My family owned a dairy farm, so I was driving from around the age of 13 and always had an interest in mechanics and how things worked. As soon as I could drive legally, I had my own project cars, and that is where my love for motorsport really started.
“I decided to give engineering a go by doing a HNC in Engineering Systems at my local college. After really enjoying that, I went on to obtain an Honours Degree in Motorsport Design Engineering at the University of the West of Scotland.
“Alongside my studies, I volunteered with car clubs and small race teams, and even started my own engine tuning business to try and gain as much experience as possible for my CV. I believe that it was those things, alongside being a member of the Dare to be Different (became GoT in 2020) community, that helped me stand out when it came to applying for jobs.
“I joined D2BD in around 2015, having no contacts in the F1 industry and no fellow females to connect with. The community not only gave me support and the chance to connect with other girls, but also more awareness of the opportunities available in motorsport.
“I secured my first job in Formula 1 in 2017 at Williams Racing as a Prototype and Test Technician. I helped at their D2BD events – this time as someone telling other girls how to get into motorsport. This was very surreal but a real credit to this initiative. I am proof that being a part of the FIA Girls on Track UK community and attending their events will help you achieve your career goals.
“I met Susie at a connect event in 2018 and asked her for advice on how to deal with being the only female in my department at Williams. The advice she gave me then still helps me today.
“I am very proud to say I now work at Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team as a Dyno Technician. I love my job, the team and am really excited to help with their initiatives that help to increase diversity in motorsport. My role involves testing the car systems to ensure they are reliable, operating as they should and bringing as much performance as possible to the car.
“Although I have achieved my goal of working in Formula 1, the community still helps me today – particularly the Facebook Group – as I started chasing my dream of becoming a racing driver last year. I am now karting for IMC Motorsport and working to transition to car racing!
“Thank you to Susie and everyone at FIA Girls on Track UK!”