Teenager Chloe Chambers speeds into motorsports career as W Series driver

Chloe Chambers during the W Series testing at the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit.
Getty Images

After kicking off her career in motorsports in kart racing, New York resident Chloe Chambers zoomed into the headlines in 2020 when she set the Guinness World Record for the fastest vehicular slalom at just 16 years old – and without her driver’s license. Two years later, Chambers — who turned 18 earlier this month and just graduated from high school — is two races into her first full season as a driver in the W Series, a free-to-enter championship series designed to provide equal opportunities for women by eliminating the financial barriers that have historically prevented them from progressing to the upper echelons of motorsports.

Chambers, driving the No. 8 for Jenner Racing, earned her full-time seat for 2022 after impressing during pre-season tests at the Inde Motorsports Ranch in Arizona and the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain. She made her official series debut in May in Miami, where she qualified 11th and finished in 16th (of 18). Chambers followed up with another 16th-place finish in Barcelona last month, and she currently stands 14th in overall points ranking ahead of the series’ third stop England’s Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit (July 1-2).

Chambers recently spoke to On Her Turf about her expectations for her first season with the W Series.

The following Q&A has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

On Her Turf: I’m sure you’ve gotten this question before, but how on earth does a teenager get into motorsports?

Chloe Chambers: I started karting when I was 8 years old. I got into that through watching Formula 1 on the weekends with my dad and my mom. And [Dad] did track days and auto-cross events in his car, and I traveled along with him with my mom. At one of his events, I had asked when can I drive? My parents started researching and they figured out that karting was the first step getting into professional motorsports. So, they found a local kart track near my house, and we did my first lesson. I loved it. I kept going with it. I moved from the club level into regional and the nationals.

Last year I moved into cars, and I drove in the F4 U.S. Championship, which is like it goes F1, F2, F3, F4 – so F4 is like the lowest, and then F1 is like the pinnacle of it. I did that for a year and then earlier this year, I got an invite to come out to Arizona and do a test with W series. Then I went to Barcelona last month and I mean that’s basically what how it went and now I’m here.

OHT: What is your favorite thing about motorsports? 

Chambers: I would say the competition. I really like the head-to-head type of competition. I like that it’s just you as the driver that makes a difference on the track. Like, the driver will make the biggest difference. Obviously, you have a team, and you have to make sure the car is set up right, you have to make sure everything is working properly, but the driver ultimately will make the biggest difference. I think that I got that competitiveness from doing swimming. I swam for almost my entire life, and I just loved being able to visually see my competition, know that ‘Oh, I need to go faster.’ I guess once I started racing, it kind of turned into my favorite sport – being motorsports and racing and driving. Swimming, I do it just as like a training type of thing, but I still enjoy it.

OHT: A couple years ago, when you broke the world record for the fastest vehicle slalom, you didn’t have your driver’s license at the time, right? Have you gotten it since?

Chambers: I have gotten it. At the time that I did the record, I had my permit.

OHT: Safe to assume you passed on the first go? 

Chambers: I did, yeah.

OHT: For motorsports fans who aren’t as familiar, how would you describe the W Series?

Chambers: The main thing is that it’s an all-women’s series. And in racing, it’s a very male-dominated sport. The W Series gives 18 seats to 18 different women to progress and learn and get their name out and put them in the spotlight. We race at eight F1 races this year, and you know, F1 is the top level of open-wheel motorsports. To be on the stage with F1, it gives W Series and its drivers a lot of exposure. It helps us out a lot and so far, it’s helped me out a ton. I’ve never raced in anything as high profile as this – it’s a brand-new experience for me. The cars are different from what I’ve ever ran, the team is completely different, but I think that it’s really professional, it’s really well run, and I’m enjoying driving the cars a lot and working with everyone. And of course, I love going to the Formula 1 races. I’d actually never been to one before this, and to be here – it’s pretty crazy, but I’m loving it.

AUTO: MAY 06 F1 Crypto.com Miami Grand Prix
MIAMI GARDENS, FL — Chloe Chambers looks on from the cockpit of her race car prior to the W Series race qualification on May 7, 2022. (Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

OHT: [Two-time W Series champion] Jamie Chadwick is on your team. What does it actually mean to be teammates? Is there anything that you’re looking forward to learning from her?

Chambers: Jamie has been basically the benchmark – everybody’s trying to be her. She’s a two-time champion (2019, 2021). To have her on my team and be pretty accessible for me – that helps out a lot. Of course, we do a lot of media stuff together, so we’ve talked, and we’ve done a bunch of other stuff like we went out to Malibu to meet [Jenner Racing team owner Caitlyn Jenner] just before Miami, so I got to speak with her there.

Jamie has said that she doesn’t think that she’ll be able to actually teach me anything, but I think so far, she has taught me some things. I think that Jamie is very professional and carries herself really well off the track, and of course, she’s a pretty talented driver. I’m just looking to learn whatever I can from her and Caitlyn. I wouldn’t say there’s one specific thing that I’m excited to learn, I guess we’ll just have to see.

OHT: You (just graduated) from high school. Any plans to go to college or are you just focused on racing? 

Chambers: I’m planning on doing the online program at Arizona State, and I’ll do that for business management. The online program just works out so much better with my racing schedule. And I think that it’s important to get your education and to get a college degree. So that’s always been kind of a big thing with my family. We’ve always said my education comes first. If I can’t perform well in school, I can’t go racing. So…

OHT: In terms of racing, what are your goals looking ahead?

Chambers: I started racing through watching Formula 1, so I’ve always wanted to be like the Formula 1 drivers. That’s why I started racing, and so my goal has always been to get into Formula 1. But I’ve kind of deliberately said that I want to get into Formula 1 and be able to compete and be able to win. I don’t just want to get in it, and then be in it and not really accomplish much.

I want to do the Indy 500, of course. It’s a huge race in America, and I would love to just do it. And then this year, I started doing some more sportscar closed-wheel races, and I figured out that I really enjoy that. And it’s something that you can do well after you’re done with open-wheel racing, because it’s much more physical and sportscars are not as much. But I think that I’ve enjoyed sports cars so much that I’ve also added in the Daytona 24 and the Le Mans 24, as well, and just some of those more iconic, endurance sports car races.

OHT: When you have a free moment, what do you like to do for fun?

Chambers: I like hanging out with friends and doing just normal teenage-life type of things. In my free time, I do enjoy going on the simulator and not doing it quite as seriously, but just having fun with some friends. And I like being alone a lot, so I like watching Netflix or YouTube.

OHT: A lot of people can relate to that, I’m sure! Last question: For young kids that are interested in getting into racing, what advice would you give to them?

Chambers: I would just say that it’s going to take a lot of work, and you’re going to have to stay really committed and you’re going to have to work really hard. You have to take in everything as a learning experience, whether that’s a win or a loss. Actually, the losses are usually a bigger learning experience than the wins, and you have to be able to cope with that. So I mean, just work really hard and if you really love it, then that shouldn’t be a problem.

On Her Turf writer Lisa Antonucci contributed to this report.