Already, Mia has stood on the top step of the GT4 overall podium twice with her team-mate Euan Hankey, including bagging a superb victory. Before this season, Mia competed in the Pure McLaren GT Series where she was crowned champion two years in a row in 2018 and 2019. In fact, she was the only woman in the series, although Kristiana West competed in two events before having a big crash at Spa in 2018.
“There are lots of women involved in motorsport,” Mia says. We’re sat in the Balfe motorhome at a very cold Donington race track - this doesn’t deter Mia though as she loves a challenge. The changeable weather adds another element of excitement. “They aren’t just racing drivers - engineering, mechanics, media. We really should celebrate that and we should celebrate the sport because it’s very rare that you can compete on equal terms.”
Mia doesn’t come from a motorsport background. She first got involved with cars when a Volvo plant opened in her town in her home country of Sweden. She saw what opportunities were available for work and she took a job as a forklift driver. This turned into engineering and before long she was living in the UK working as a manufacturing engineer.
“Once we put our helmets on, there is no age or gender,” she says. “If you’re the fastest, you win. I like that - it’s a simple sport in a way.”
Her first involvement in racing came when she and her husband purchased a Lotus to restore. She then took this racing and it was at a McLaren track day that her coach noticed she had talent. She brushed it off at first but was ultimately encouraged by his positive feedback.
“I could never play tennis against [Roger] Federer because I can’t hit a ball as hard or run as fast as a guy - it’s not physically possible,” she says. “Driving a race car, you have to be reasonably fit but rather than go on about women and diversity, let’s celebrate the fact that the sport has the option for people to compete together.”
From there, Mia became a McLaren track day driver where she got to drive at circuits across the world. One of her favourite cars to drive was the “mean machine” of the P1 GTR for its sheer amount of power. This transitioned nicely into her involvement in the Pure Series.
“In England, it’s a very segregated sport,” she says. “If you’ve already told people that motorsport is a man’s sport then little girls will already be put off and decide it’s not for them. How do you change this perception? It’s an expensive sport too. How do we make it cheaper?
“Well, there’s 12 people here this weekend just for me. I drive an expensive car. We can’t physically make it much cheaper.”
Mia is very frank about her position. She knows she’s lucky to do what she loves and you can tell she’s enjoying herself. She’s full of beans, always smiling and more than happy to answer any questions you have about the car. Her car is full of recognisable brands, including Sky who sponsors the #21. In addition to this, Mia supports a charity - Race for RP (relapsing polychondritis) - which is very close to her heart.
“People pay a quarter of a million to go karting,” she says. “I don’t think that’s what’s deterring girls, though. Karting isn’t the only way into the sport. I never did karting. It’s not like I have to do this or that. I can’t inspire a four-year-old, but I can inspire their parents.”
In 2020, Mia has got to grips with her McLaren 570S GT4, driving in new conditions including the pouring rain and learning how to drive on full wet tyres - the progression Mia has made at each round has been nothing short of impressive.
“The more families and people interested in motorsport, the more women will become involved,” she says. “We should celebrate the fact that once you put the helmet on, you’re all the say. Let’s all inspire more people no matter gender, race or age.”
Mia has one more race left of the season - the immense Silverstone three-hour final - before the curtain falls on an intense reformed British GT season. Her mission though is clear: to inspire as many people as possible.
“We need to bring more people in,” she says. “Hopefully, we can do that by just being out there and showing them that it’s possible. Look at myself, I won in British GT this year! You know, why not? Anybody can go out there and get the result - it’s so measurable. The person that crossed the line first is the winner, most of the time!”