Racing driver and presenter Vicki Butler-Henderson harks back to her first job as a 17-year-old motor racing instructor
I was still doing my A-levels when I got a Saturday job as a motor racing instructor. I’d been racing 100cc karts since I was 12, then, at 17, I started racing cars at Brands Hatch and Silverstone.
I knew Silverstone was recruiting for instructors so I had an interview and showed them my driving. I think there were about 40 applicants, so I was quite fortunate to get it. I got £70 a day, which, for me at school, was like, “Woo hoo!” A huge amount.
Mostly, it was for people who’d been bought a blast around Silverstone as a present. I’d strap them into the car, a Peugeot 309 GTI with a roll cage in it. Then I’d sit alongside and instruct them how to go along the racing line and get the fastest lap. At the end, I’d get in the driving seat and show them how it was done.
The main boss was a guy called John Watson who used to race Formula One back in the 70s and 80s. He headed up the driving school and was utterly lovely, really good fun. At the end of the day, the instructors would get together in the pits and have some good banter. There was always a bit of competitiveness between instructors when we were doing our fast laps, like a mini-race. We never got into trouble but there was always a bit of ego.
I think the fact I was 17 and a girl in a man’s world was slightly unusual from a client’s point of view. Sometimes a 40-year-old man would sit alongside me and give me a funny look, as if to say, what are you going to teach me? Then, obviously, I’d let my driving do the talking. I learned from that never to judge a book by its cover. My grandfather and father had been motor- racing drivers and I had a younger brother who was racing, so it was very much in my genes from an early age.
Vicki Butler-Henderson’s 100 Sexiest Cars (Carlton Books, £12.99) is out now.