Universiti Malaya – Wales

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Leona Chin on how to navigate your way to the top

By Shawal Ras

In the world of motorsport and professional car racing, being a woman is as rare as hen’s teeth. Leona Chin, a 33-year old Subang-bred professional racing driver, is one of such rarities. 

“This is the world I chose to work in. There are days when guys peg me as just another lady at the circuit and they’re showing me their car, boasting about themselves, and teaching me how to drive a car – they have no idea I’m one of them!”

Growing up in Malaysia, Leona has always been a go-getter. “I saw my friends with their cars and driving licenses and of course I felt the pressure to drive as well. My friends were the ones who taught me how to drive at first.”

Her mum, who is a single parent, was nervous at the thought of her precious daughter pursuing a career in what she considered a dangerous industry. “She was scared for my safety and my wellbeing, but she had to trust my decision. Now I’ve even taken her on rides, and she’s okay with it!”

“I understand why she’s scared. When I first started, I was terrified by the speed and the risks that came along with it, but the adrenaline kept me going. It’s sort of addictive,” she chuckles. 

When asked about her personal definition of success, Leona stated she believes success to be the ability to have your own time, good health, and money.

But like anyone, there are days where she has doubts, or is hit by a bout of low self-esteem. “There are ups and downs. One time, when my sponsor pulled out and I had no funding to keep this dream going, I felt like giving up and just starting a new career. But this is my dream, so the show must go on.”

Leona said she lives by the 4Ds: drive, determination, discipline, and dream. “It’s something my friend said about me and I find it true. The 4Ds sum up my character and my drive as a professional racing driver.”

As for the upcoming graduates from IUMW, Leona has one thing to say; “find what you love doing, and use that passion to motivate you and to develop you. You’ll find it very rewarding.”