On tonight’s segment of the popular CNBC series, Jay Leno’s Garage, Jay asked 19-year old race car driver Aurora Straus, “Are you ready to take me out and try to scare the old guy?” to which Aurora replied, “Yeah, let’s do it.” As the segment closed, with Aurora taking Jay for a spin in her ST Racing BMW M4 GT4, Jay pressed her and said, “Let’s see what this thing can do, step on it.” Not one to back down from a challenge, Aurora replied, “Alright, let’s do it.”
Above: Aurora Straus suited up and getting last minute advice before strapping in at Lime Rock Park. Photo Credit W. Rosenberg
With just two race weekends remaining in the 2018 Pirelli World Challenge season, local product Aurora Straus looks to advance her 2nd place standing in the 2018 Pirelli World Challenge GTS Sprint Division. This 19 year old Cold Spring resident and graduate of Tarrytown’s Hackley School has had quite a year, deferring her freshman year at Harvard University to run the full Pirelli World Challenge Series, kicking off a partnership with the Girl Scouts in her ‘Girls with Drive’ initiative, and making appearances on Good Morning America and Jay Leno’s Garage. She had appeared earlier in MetroSports Magazine’s September-October 2017 issue and in our coverage of the May 2018 Lime Rock Grand Prix. Her next two races to close out the Pirelli World Challenge season will be at Watkins Glen International Raceway on Labor Day weekend and an October 26-28 weekend at Laguna Seca raceway in California.
In the Pirelli World Challenge GTS Overall Drivers’ Championship, Aurora stands in 22nd place among 88 active drivers. In the GTX Sprint X Driver standings, Aurora stands in 10th place among 62 active drivers at the end of ten rounds of racing, the most recent at the Utah Motor Sports Campus. Among the 31 Amateur class drivers in the GTS SprintX Division, Aurora has a firm grip on second place.
Above: Photo Credit W. Rosenberg
Aurora drives for the two car team of ST Racing piloting the # 36 BMW M4 GT4. The team’s #38 BMW is driven by the equally talented 20 year old Samantha Tan, currently in 30th place among all drivers and whose family owns the team. The ST Racing team stands in 8th place among all 29 teams. Originally from Gormley, Ontario, Canada, Tan, an accomplished pianist, now studies Economics at the University of California at Irvine where she also pursues a minor in humanities and law. Straus hails from the quaint, Hudson River town of Cold Spring, New York, and has been accepted to Harvard University where she will pursue a double major in mechanical engineering and English.
Above: Aurora taking a few moments to relax before race time and being interviewed by veteran sports journalist John Chuhran
Perhaps, as a bittersweet testament to her driving prowess, Aurora stands 16 places ahead of former teacher and mentor, Stevan McAleer. When Aurora began driving, at the age of 13, she did so under the tutelage of McAleer, a veteran race car driver, at the Monticello Motor Club where her father, Ari Straus, is CEO and Managing Partner. She entered her first on-track competition at the age of 15 and, one year later, posted a second place finish in a six hour endurance race at Sebring International Raceway.
As a role model for young girls pursuing non-traditional sports or career choices, we asked Aurora the following question.
MSM: What would you say to young girls who want to try out for what are typically considered male sports?
Aurora: Female racecar drivers are rare enough, but I also look young, which makes me approachable. I love the shock and awe of little girls who suddenly grasp that they, too, might upend stereotypes and join the sport. If I could give any advice, I would say to look for driven women in the industry to help mentor you, and to learn to tune out anyone who says it’s too difficult, or too competitive. I’m lucky to be surrounded, in my family and in my community, by strong-willed, passionate women who are trailblazers in their field, and have raised me to believe I can do anything I want to. Once I strap into a racecar, nobody can tell that I’m a girl - and that’s how it should be!
In other words, her advice would be, “Alright, let’s do it.”
Look for more coverage of the Pirelli World Challenge in the upcoming MetroSports Magazine.
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