What began as a typical day for a student driving instructor, turned out to be everything — but typical. After a morning cup of coffee she arrived at work to view the schedule of drivers to teach. The first students passed their exams, and the day was on schedule. Her next student: a cute girl with large rim glasses and a large teddy bear buckled into the rear seat. So with a training clipboard in hand, the instructor approached the car, stepped in and began the routine. Little did she know that sitting behind the wheel was no ordinary student, but the professional racecar driver Leona Chin; disguised and ready to give this instructor — the ride of her life.
But Leona’s days are not usually filled with pranks and TVs show appearances. Since 2006, she’s competed in over a hundred Asian circuit race events, ranging from drift championships to Gymkhana challenges, and has acquired a vast collection of podium finishes. With such a great career, little do we know that Leona’s pathway to racing may have never occurred, if it wasn’t for a moment of fate lending it’s hand.
Growing up in her teens, she usually hung out with the boys at school and it seemed they were always talking about cars. So with peaked interest, Leona soaked up the tech talk, and soon the enthusiasm for octane and performance bubbled up to the point of purchasing her own car to modify. At the age of 16 and without objection from her mother, Leona opted for a Nissan 180SX.
During a trip to the local garage for routine maintenance, a complete stranger approached her. This man, surprised by the fact a girl owned a modified 180SX, was determined in convincing Leona to drift her car. But there was an issue. She had never tried to drift. So compelled to teach her, the man offered lessons in developing drift skills, in trade to design his website. (Leona has quite the creative touch in graphic arts)
After that fateful day, she gripped the wheel and began her journey into drift racing. “It was surprisingly fun and enjoying.” She said, “But finding money for my tires and mods was a challenge.” Overall, she learned every bit of racing skills from scratch, starting with figure eights, and eventually working her way up the drift course ranks, until years later when she was again, randomly approached. This time, by energy drink brand and once again, encouraging Leona to try something completely new.
“I agreed and then started an intensive training for the circuit racing . . . in a selection of female drivers, I was the fastest and most consistent.” Leona said.
Since that second fateful day, Leona has accomplished quite a few outstanding accolades with in endurance racing, circuit racing, Gymkhana, and even karting. Her list of accolades include winning the “Boxza Bangkok Super Gymkhana” Ladies Championship, the “Southern Thailand Gymkhana X” Category F Ladies Championship, the “Saturday Night Fever” National Series Championship Round 1, the “SAGA 1500” Class Championship, the “GENERATION X” Time Attack Rd 1 Ladies Championship, The “Caterham Motorsports” Championship Round 1st place and well — we could go on.
“My aim was to develop myself to be an all-around racer, a jack of all trades,” She continues, “I used to be known as the ‘girl drifter,’ but I would like to be known as a motor sport athlete.”
It’s no secret. Leona has certainly proven herself to be quite the motor sport athlete. After years of struggling to the top, maintaining pure determination, and now a trophy closet full of race championship wins — you can see why she’s been fooling around with pranks and having fun lately!
So what’s in-store for Leona now? She shared that her goal is to now focus on China Rally Championship (CRC) and China Touring Championship (CTC) along with securing sponsors to support the effort. Aside from that, she’s also collecting Nissan Silva’s as a hobby and currently owns an 180SX, S13, S14 and S15. Lastly, she’s been working on a project to develop motor sport events for beginning racecar drivers on a budget. She stated, “I want to create an avenue for newcomers to develop the basics of motor sports, just like I did. I want to be able to give them the first steps towards forging a career in racing.”
Of course, racing will always be a part of Leona’s lifestyle, but giving back to those who are challenged to take part of race events, teaching young students the tactics of racing, and just being a fun energetic prankster makes this girl a driver – that shows us fate will always play it’s hand.
To read a full biography of Leona Chin visit www.leonachin.com
Photography courtesy of http://www.leona.kurazmotorsports.com