This is the third in a series of Q&A's with those involved with motorcycle road racing; grid girls, marshals, photographers, journos, and the racers themselves. Through these Q&A sessions the answers will hopefully help you, the reader, dispel any myths, confirm your suspicions or generally give some insight into who these people really are and what drives them to be involved in, what is considered by many, a dangerous sport. Should you want to take part and tell your story (or if you know a racer and can cajole them to take part), drop me a line through my Twitter or Facebook page and we'll sort something out.
If you've been around the road racing paddock for any length of time there's every chance that you will have seen Karla, who's very much part of the fittings and fixtures. The following is in her own words...
Karla posing with the Bimota crew
What do you do for a living? – Believe it or not I’m actually a business travel consultant, not a full time model as most people assume, and I've worked in the travel industry for 14 years now. 😊
Who or what attracted you to road racing? – I was born into it. I come from a racing family, with both my dad and uncle racing, I wouldn’t change it for the world. The paddock itself is like a second family to me.
What do you do out of race season? – Look forward to Christmas. 😊 It's a magical time of year, then start the preparations, and I count down the days to the start of a new season. 😊
Have you ever been star struck (racer / non racer) and who was it? – I’m extremely lucky to have been on the grid with some complete legends, but also had the pleasure of meeting and partying / dinners with them also. It's a great honour being able to mix with such legends, however to be star struck or lost for words, I would say Kenny Robert Sr. I was so nervous to talk to him but so glad I did, what a gentleman.
Who do you admire (racer / non racer)? – I must say, growing up I was a massive Max Biaggi and Neil Hodgson fan, with posters covering my bedroom walls, and t-shirts of them both that I wore daily, even under my school uniform. Which is funny now looking back, as I’ve worked for many teams, now with Chris Walker, including last season on his sidecar debut, and my favourite GP rider is Jorge Lorenzo (besides Loris Baz since he's a good friend). So, kinda see a pattern, haha.
What’s your greatest achievement so far? – Everything I get to do within racing I see as an achievement, but a key highlight for me was working for Giacomo Agostini’s 70th Birthday party for Factory Yamaha, what an honour and a fantastic evening.
What achievement are you striving for? – When I first started in Promotions I always dreamed of working every grid from 125’s to Superbikes (British and World) and building my way up to Moto GP. I’m extremely lucky that over the years I've achieved the goals and teams I set out for, and have be fortunate enough to work multiple grids in a season or round. I remember one Cadwell I worked, every single grid I was like Mrs Ben coming out the back of the awning in a different outfit each time. 😊 But for me the TT feels like home, and to be part of it is something special. The hard work and preparation that goes into this magical event is something I find hard to put into words.
If you had your time again, what would you have done differently? – There isn’t much I would change to be honest. I’m extremely lucky and grateful for every opportunity that has been given to me, some were lessons but most blessings. We only get one chance in this life so I make sure I live it.
Karla shades Brandon Cretu on his Bimota BB3 on the 2016 IoM TT Superstock grid
For those who come to the TT circuit - what are you thinking about:
When you land on the Isle of Man? – How lucky I am to be back. There is a magical feeling on that island and as soon as you get to the paddock you start to feel the buzz and the life of the island starting to take shape, as the boats dock and more flights land. Also secretly doing a sun dance, hoping the weather stays dry and we all have a safe TT.
As you walk through the gate from parc ferme onto Glencrutchery Rd. at race time? – As soon as that call comes across the paddock "First call for riders numbered .... to ....." up to the start line, that’s when the butterflies kick in, in that sinking pit of your stomach feeling, but this is all on the inside. Outside its all smiles and making sure you have everything to take up to the line.
As your rider (or sidecar pair) moves off to the start line? – I always watch pretty much all starts if I can during practice week, but race day as soon as my team / partner has set off, I walk away to a corner or find a familiar face I know to stand with away from the crowds. The radio is on, live timing app is on my phone and I zone out. I have an Isle of man TT course pendent that gets worn pretty thin over the weeks as I listen hard and listen for sector times.
What typically do you talk about with the team / family – before, during and post race? - Before: anything and everything there is never usually any silence, as this can create added nervous for all. During: not a lot is said other than 'are they through yet?' And Post: it's positivity, as it doesn’t matter where they have finished, what they have just achieved some people can only dream of, and if we have a second race, what improvements can be made and debrief as normal.
Karla relaxing before the 2016 IoM TT Superstock race
Before each race do you have:
Any rituals? – Not really, but it has been known in the past more superstitious things come directly from the rider, for example passing them the right glove before the left, little things like that.
Any lucky charms? – My TT course pendent doesn’t come off me, especially TT week. It's more of a comfort thing for me really.
Things you say to yourself or out loud? – No, but I have been known to pace up and down. I tend to have zoned out at this point to hold a conversation.
LIFE IN GENERAL
What nicknames do you have? – None, that I am aware of.
What three words describe you? – Kind, Supportive, Strong
What have you always wanted, and did you ever get it? – Clarks fairy shoes, the ones that had the key in the bottom. When I was at school, but I wasn’t allowed them, as dad had a brand new set of Avon tyres instead to go racing haha!
What question are you asked the most? – "Why hasn’t he married you yet" haha!
What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten? – Frogs legs, and yes they do taste like chicken to those who wonder.
What’s your current addiction(s)? – Warm pork scratchings with apple sauce, I know, weird, and no haha I’m not pregnant!
What would be the hardest thing for you to quit? – Racing of course.
What’s the nicest thing someone has said to you? – I don’t give myself enough credit for the things I do for other people, To me I don’t see them as big things, but to them it is.
If you were a crap superhero, what would be your superpower? – With a touch of my little finger I could turn things glittery and a rainbow of colours. I know it be so cool 😉
What would be the perfect day? – My wedding day. Hint, hint... haha 😝
What’s your greatest achievement? – Owning my own home.
What’s your biggest regret? – Giving my all to people that didn’t deserve it.
What amazes you? – Rude people and idle gossip. You learn a lot about yourself you never knew. 😝
Karla shades Brandon Cretu on his Bimota BB3 on the 2016 IoM TT Superstock grid
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE:
Meal? – I can honestly say I don’t have a favourite meal. I eat pretty much anything and everything, but do find eating out hard, as I am lactose intolerant and can't have any diary at all in my diet.
Colour? – Red
Music genre / band / singer? – I don't listen to a real genre of music, but if I had to pick I'd say Foo Fighters and Chase and status are up there, amongst others.
Possession? – My Home
Item of clothing? – Shoes of course. I’ve near on 200 pairs 😊
Place? – Hong Kong is one of my favourite cities, however being in the travel industry I am well travelled, and would be here all day if I was to tell you of all my adventures.
Past-time (other than racing)? – Aerial hoop (SnapChap: it's a form of exercising - I had to look it up too!) and colouring in, I can get lost for hours in a picture.
Circuit? – Isle of man TT course, and Assen then Brands Hatch.
Karla wearing her Isle of man TT course pendent that she rubs for good luck.
EITHER / OR
Gym or yoga? – Yoga
City or countryside? – Neither, I prefer Seaside 😊
Tea or coffee? – Tea
Sushi or fish & chips? – Fish and Chips
Cake or pie? – Cake - lactose free, of course 😉
Ketchup or brown sauce? – Ketchup
Restaurant or take out? – Depends who’s paying 😉 haha but Take-away
Dogs or cats? – Both, but I do have a cat called Reginald
Books or films? – Both
Twitter or Instagram? – Instagram
Netflix or Youtube? – Netflix
Early bird or night owl? – Night Owl, most definitely
Quiet night in or loud night out? – Depends on who I'm with, so possibly both 😉
You can follow Karla using the following links:
Thank you Karla for taking part.
Keep your eyes peeled for more Q&A sessions coming soon!
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You can follow SnapChap using the following links: