Although Abbie Eaton may have been a newcomer to W Series in 2021, the British driver is no stranger to the motorsport scene, having started her journey over twenty years ago in a car park in Hull.
“I remember the first time I ever tried karting, it was two days after my tenth birthday and my dad got me a little go-kart and we took it to Humber Bridge,” Abbie tells Females in Motorsport. “I had a bicycle helmet on and I was driving around the car park.”
From humble beginnings in the north to scoring championships in several competitive motorsport categories, Abbie has come a long way, sharing her passion with her racer father.
“Motorsport was just something I’d grown up watching my dad do and I spent most of my time at race tracks, '' she says. “Initially it [racing] was just something I wanted to try as a hobby after I saw how much happiness it brought my Dad, and then the more I did it the more it developed into being a career path.”
However, unlike most of her karting peers, Abbie never truly considered pursuing a career in single-seaters with the substantial cost of junior formulas presenting an obstacle.
“I’ve never looked at doing single-seaters purely because of the cost - it’s very expensive,” she says.
“Another reason is probably my dad, I’ve watched him racing tin tops and touring cars, so it was never really on my radar as something, but then the opportunity of W Series came about and it’s something new and different.
"If W Series was around back in the day, I may have gone down the single-seater route.”
The arrival of W Series has not only promoted the interests of women in motorsport but it’s also removed several of the barriers that have previously made single-seater careers unattainable for many in the sport.
“Motorsport is a money game and it's very expensive so the chances you’re going to have a quick female with a load of money and a little bit of luck is quite slim,” Abbie says. “W series funding a complete season, with expenses and a prize fund at the end, takes away one of the worries.”
Despite the help that W Series has provided her, Abbie wasn’t naive to the challenge that transitioning to single-seaters presented.
“It’s so different to drive and other people that I've spoken to who’ve done the change have said how difficult it is to master,” she says. “Through this year I’ve got to grips with it, which is great fun!”
Part of Abbie’s success across multiple racing categories and her determination to succeed can be explained by her driving approach and motivation to keep improving, regardless of the challenges thrown her way.
“I'm quite methodical and I build up to things and tick them off,” she says. “I do a lot of research and time on the sim and I really like looking at data and video footage.
Unfortunately, Abbie’s W Series season didn’t end the way she’d hoped with the British driver left with a compression fracture following an incident with the sausage kerbs during the penultimate race of the season at Circuit of the Americas. As a result of the accident, Abbie was forced to miss the season finale the following day.
“If I could describe my season in one word, I’d say progress,” she says. “Just learning as much as I can at every opportunity so every time I'm in the car I'm learning something new.
“Don't get me wrong, it's been very frustrating at times, but that’s part of motorsport. You have to pick yourself up and dust yourself off and try to learn from the negatives and also take some comfort from the positives.”
Abbie has many on-track exploits and achievements to be proud of, but the British driver hasn’t stopped there. As an ambassador for Racing Pride, Abbie has been having a profound impact off track too.
“When I joined W Series, Matt Bishop asked if Racing Pride was something I'd like to be a part of just to help promote and publicise,” she says. “If I can help people feel comfortable in their own skin just by being me, that’s definitely a positive thing to be a part of.”
We can’t wait to see Abbie back in action soon and wish her a very speedy recovery!