There was much to look forward to for the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship’s season opener at the Superloop Adelaide 500, but for one particular individual it was a significant milestone for the sport.
After more than a decade of being a clerk of course in New South Wales, Jessica Nicholson was appointed as the Deputy Race Director for the Porsche PAYCE Carrera Cup – the first woman to do so for an Australian category.
The selection was a well-deserved one too, with Nicholson highly regarded amongst the New South Wales community due to her work at Sydney Motorsport Park and Wakefield Park, including the World Time Attack Challenge and the Shannons Motorsport Australia Championships.
Though already highly accomplished and experienced in her field, a thrilled Nicholson was still surprised to be given the opportunity for the position. She will work under the guidance of, another highly respected Motorsport Australia Race Director, David Mori.
“It’s a little bit of a surprise to be appointed but fantastic to be accepted. It’s a magical feeling to be honest because it’s something I have been working towards since I started my career as a Clerk of Course,” Nicholson said.
“Over the years, I have been working on building my skill set through exposure at a variety of different events with the goal of getting my knowledge up to a level that is accepted for this kind of role.
“The plan is to stay in this role for a while and eventually move into more of a Race Director role although it will depend on how I go in this year’s Porsche Carrera Cup.
“I’ll be assessed at the end of the year on whether I am capable of doing a Race Director role, or whether I will require more training.”
While the appointment is the beginning of something special for Nicholson, her first event in the role in Adelaide was drama free as she focused on soaking up as much information as she could.
“The first weekend was definitely an eye opener,” Nicholson added.
“It’s different to clerking because it’s a different way to think about things, but it’s been fantastic and Porsche has been lovely and opened up their arms.
“David Mori has been a fantastic mentor as well. He has been lovely and supportive all weekend and very inclusive.”
As for the pressure of being one of the first women to hold a senior position as this, Nicholson is relishing the chance to pave the way for more women to follow her pathway.
“It’s definitely special to be considered for this role as a woman, especially now that the industry is pushing for women involvement,” Nicholson said.
“To have a role like this open up to a woman is fantastic because it proves that we can do it. I race myself so I understand on and off track, which is important.
“There is some pressure on me to succeed in this role as I am representing women, although that pressure has always been there on me so I am used to it.
“My advice to other females looking to make their mark in the sport would be to dream big and don’t think you can’t make it. It’s taken me a long time to get here, but you have to be ready. There are paths for women, and it’s not a closed shop like some may think.”
Nicholson’s next round is an equally high profile event, with Porsche PAYCE Carrera Cup running as part of the Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix weekend on 12-15 March.