Becoming a Formula Woman for the whole Crohn’s and Colitis community

10 December 2021

Inspired by a lack of female drivers in racing, Formula Woman is a female-only one make racing series started in 2004 in the UK.

Eilidh tells us about how the same drive and determination that helps her manage Crohn's inspired her to enter this year's series.

Forumla Woman was created, amongst other reasons, to boost the female audience of the sport and this year, I took part in an assessment day at Knockhill Racecourse in Fife, with hopes of entering the series.

Living with Crohn's

I always had an interest in motorsport growing up, but always fulfilled this by spectating at various fairly small-scale events around Scotland. I was more than happy with this. Later, in 2014, we arranged a road trip to Nürburgring, Germany, taking in Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium on the way home. This was a fantastic trip, despite me experiencing a Crohn’s flare just days before.

I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in 2006 at the age of 21.

I’ve been on medication since then and haven’t had too many debilitating flares over the years, but it had become the norm for me that I had day-to-day discomfort. Scans showed that medication, biologics, and dilation were not giving me much relief and it was decided that I would have a right hemicolectomy and proctocolectomy with permanent stoma in 2019.

Recovery was miraculous to begin with.

My drive and determination helped me feel like I'd bossed those first few months of recovery. Since then, I’ve had a few issues with adhesions and multiple blockages, plus a marriage breakdown to boot. My theory is that when I’m good, I’m good. I just need to keep these days consistent. Working hard on my mindset and myself in general has given me more the confidence so I had a ‘just go for it Eilidh’ moment when I came across Formula Woman.

This is a competition aimed at non-professional, female drivers with a natural driving ability rather than having had race experience so the written application asks about your reasons for applying, of course.

The application led me to recognise my strength, my drive, and my passion.

Yes, I struggle and yes, I have an incurable illness, but does that stop you from trying? No. Not just for me but for the Crohns and Colitis community, and for us with stomas. I hope this will let people see that you mustn’t hold back on things you are passionate about.

In the lead up to the assessment day I received regular newsletters and online learning modules to complete before attending. These taught me the basics and some driving techniques to put into practise on the day. I am able to connect with other attendees via the online learning portal which has been great but I haven’t come across anyone else with Crohn’s, Colitis or a stoma yet – perhaps I will on the day.

I’m really looking forward to the practical driving part of the day, in an all-new Vauxhall Corsa electric.

There’s also more theory work and a fitness test. As it has been nearly 2 years since my surgery, I feel fairly fit day-to-day. I do expect to be fatigued after my assessment day so am taking my dad along for support also.

The finalists have the opportunity to race a McLaren GT4 Race car in The British GT Cup Championship so that’s an incredible prospect. However, a worldwide competition like this is an amazing opportunity no matter how far I go in it.

The first step was to apply, and I’m proud of myself for even going for it!

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