Claire Jedrek, 36, co-founder of The Karting Arena
Not just a well-known pretty face on the modelling and hosting circuit, Claire Jedrek is also Singapore’s only female race car driver in Singapore. She got into racing into 2014 as the only woman in the Malaysian Super Series, and within a year, won second place podium in the Malaysian F1 support race. Since then, she has made a name for herself in the world of motorsports, a testosterone-driven field that is not an obvious route for most women.
But Jedrek says the career leap isn’t as unexpected as we may think. She shares: “I’ve always been part of extreme sports and it was an opportunity to begin commentating for motorsport that triggered the education of the science of driving and what the sport was in depth, not just presenting about it.”
She also credits her husband, Yuey Tan, himself a veteran race driver in the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia series, for introducing her to her racing peers in Asia. “We took it from there to form a marketing package and proposal that would put me on the grid. Looking back to 2013, I’ve come a long way from driving, commentating, writing and presenting in the line of motorsport.”
Her husband is also her business partner and together they run The Karting Arena at Turf City, an electric go-kart circuit, which Jedrek says is an “extension of our lifestyle and beliefs, and it was a way to open up the basics of motorsport not just to people who enjoy motorsport, but to everyone who wanted to have some fun. We knew electric would become a big topic of interest in mobility one day so we set out to open the 500m circuit in Bukit Timah.”
The only circuit in Singapore that is focused on fun karting (the other two in Kranji and Jurong are for serious karters), it’s this non-intimidating approach (much like her own personality) that has proven profitable for the business from day one. Corporate businesses give the company good mileage and account for 85 per cent of her business revenue.
Jedrek is currently not racing because she is expecting her second child, while enjoying motherhood with Olivier (Oli), her one-year old toddler now. When she first discovered she was pregnant with Oli, she admits that she cried, “out of fear.”
Not that racing meant more to her than being a mum, she clarifies. But she candidly shares that there was some internal ego-warring initially, as it crossed her mind that she would lose work opportunities. Yet at the same time, she knew she had the capability of reintroducing herself to racing if she wanted it enough.
She says: “I wanted to have a kid but I was terrified of what this cute little blob of jello would do to me and my life. I was always sure of myself but I thought it would open up a Pandora’s box of surprises about myself and my husband, but I realised the fears were unfounded.”
Motherhood and racing are both fulfilling aspects in her life, just in different ways. In fact, she credits racing for prepping her to take on motherhood, teaching her to be “ego-less, keep emotions in check, to do things based on facts and not however I wanted, and to work in a team.”
Similarly, motherhood has definitely been life-changing. “It’s taught me about how to level up when it comes to time management. On a relationship level, Yuey and I are stronger than ever,” she tells.
With her second pregnancy (now into its 19th week), Jedrek is definitely in the driver’s seat. She feels more assured and mentally prepped to handle it and birthing, but chuckles, “who knows, when the little one arrives, it’ll be a whole new adventure.”
An empowered woman is…
One who has the knowledge, the wisdom, the experience … if you want to gain respect then you should earn it rightly so.
You’ve worn many hats, from modelling to hosting and now race car driver, are you surprised by how your career has turned out?
I believe that from my teens to adulthood and now as a parent, every part of my journey has been a good representation of where my capabilities and strengths lay. As I got older and more attuned to my skills, with more experience and a good group of peers and friends, it led me down a path that would naturally be visible.
Why racing – a field that not many women would think of entering?
I don’t think I have ever looked at a sport in the view of gender, race, religion or age. I’ve always approached what I take on as a matter of interest, skill level, and sport. Being able to reinvent myself has always been an innate character trait, so the only person I’ve ever been intimidated by, was myself.
Are there any barriers you’ve faced because you are a woman?
I think there has always been white noise throughout various parts of my life, and that what we think about ourselves and our egos have been the biggest barriers.
How do you juggle motherhood and running your own business?
Being prepared, planning, losing the part about procrastinating. Making sure I always have time for myself and the things that I want to do. I stay on top of my life by trying to keep checklists. I am unapologetic if I need help from family to look after Oli when I am busy.
What would you say has been the most defining moment in your life?
Being at rock bottom and moving back from Australia, after a failed relationship – it was packing up and selling my life to go there and come back, giving up working in the media industry that I had worked so hard to be in.
I have absolutely no regrets as it has moulded my value system, the way I see myself and my world. Without those moments, I would not be here today with such a beautiful family and amazing husband who has been nothing but supportive of me, always pushing me as he believes I can give more to whatever I do.
Is there a cause you hold dear to your heart?
Mental health. Being a person who has been mostly confident and outgoing her whole life, I suffered from anxiety and panic attacks out of the blue a few years ago, mainly from a burnout, of flying in and out for work and not sleeping enough. I went through six months of confusing moments, mentally and physically and denied most of it. Until I went through it, I don’t think I knew how to empathise with those who suffer it. It was crippling because it doesn’t choose a convenient time to appear or even a reasonable time or reason.
What is one unforgettable lesson that you’ve learnt, and what advice do you have for little girls?
To think about teamwork, the greater good of the team, and how decisions for what I do is for the bigger picture and not for me. Don’t be too hard on yourself – every failure will exponentially lead you to success.
Photography TONY TING PHOTOGRAPHY
Styling XINDI SIAU
Hair and Makeup FIONA B MAKEUP
Location THE GREAT ROOM (NGEE ANN CITY)
Watch out for our second installation of Mummyfiques’s Power Women 2019, on Monday, 11 March, and discover the inspiring stories of Jocelyn Chng, Carolyn Kan, Ayesha Khanna, and Yvon Bock. It’s a month-long salute to the women of today!