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AUTO RACING/ At 18, Noda is first Japanese woman to race in Super Formula

时间:2024-07-26 01:12:35 出处:阅读(143)

AUTO RACING/ At 18, Noda is first Japanese woman to race in Super Formula

By HIDEAKI KATO/ Staff Writer

April 26, 2024 at 08:00 JST

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Photo/IllutrationJuju Noda, the first Japanese woman to compete in the Super Formula series, in Tokyo in February (Hideaki Kato)

Juju Noda is following in the same tire tracks laid out by her father, Hideki, a former Formula One auto racer. 

Earlier this year, Noda blazed her own trail, becoming the first Japanese woman to compete in the Super Formula, Japan’s top auto racing series, which opened its season on March 9. She was, at 18, also the youngest on record to compete in the circuit.

“I want to trigger a change in the environment so women can play more active roles,” Noda said.

She admired her father and made her debut in kart racing when she was 3.

Noda has since taken various lessons, including in soccer, swimming and karate, but she said auto racing is the only sport that she felt frustrated to be a loser in.

Noda decided at the age of 5 that she wanted to be a professional race car driver in the future. She was 14 when she began making the rounds of Europe in a camper van with her family to compete in races.

She has even skipped a school event.

“I thought I could establish a lead on my rivals if I trained during the time that I saved,” she said.

Some auto races have rules that set a minimum weight for the machines, including the driver. Weighing only 50 kilograms or so, Noda sometimes has to load her car with a weight during a race to meet the requirement.

She also needs enough muscular strength to withstand a force approaching 4 Gs, about four times her weight, during a race.

Racers of a sturdy build can rely on their muscles, which also help their vehicles achieve the proper weight, so a lighter weight driver is at a disadvantage behind the wheel.

“I wish I could say that once you put on a helmet it doesn’t matter if you are a man or a woman, but things are never that simple,” Noda said.

Noda was the first woman, in the 2023 season, to be the champion of the year in a European championship that is called a gateway to the F1 series, the most prestigious in the world.

She said she is often asked why she can drive so fast despite her slight build. She said she has formed a hypothesis on her own, which she wishes to prove logically.

That is why Noda entered Nihon University’s College of Sports Sciences this spring, where she plans to put much effort into research as well.

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