Catie Munnings is not your regular teenager. At 18 years old, during her final A-level exams, Catie won the FIA Ladies European Rally Championship in her first year in the sport, making her the first Briton to win a European rally title in over 49 years!
Catie’s interest in motorsport began early, following her father, she spent her childhood in his workshop, and in the passenger seat of his rally car. Growing up, there were very few female role models in motorsport. Inevitably, Catie only saw her passion as a hobby, and not a career. This has made her recognise the importance of role models, especially in gender dominant environments.
Catie began competing in auto-testing at age 14, and her talents were quickly recognised. At 17, she was invited to test a factory rally car in the French Alps. Catie had never sat in a rally car, and was testing with the best drivers, cars and teams in Europe. The team were impressed and offered her a drive for the following season. Overnight, Catie’s life was transformed from a regular teenager looking at Cambridge University into a young prodigy.
Catie had four months to train and find sponsorship, at the same time as dealing with the pressure of being Deputy Head Girl of her school and revising for her final A level exams.
Catie thrived in this environment, as a ‘doer’; a child model, scouted to be professional dancer at 16, personally trained in National Athletics and an academic and performing arts scholar from age 7. Making the choice between studying Veterinary Science and becoming a self-employed rally driver with no promise of success was one of the big decisions she made, but also the easiest.
One year on, following her success in the ERC, Catie has been awarded ambassador roles for:
- UN Tolerance day
- ‘The London Motorshow’
- ‘Sean Edwards Foundation for Safety in Motorsport’
• ‘Woman Of the Future’
- IAM Roadsmart
- as well as being shortlisted to the top four of The Sunday Times’ Young Sportswomen of the Year awards, her rivals all being Olympians.
She is now running an ice driving school with ex-world champions on the frozen lakes of Sweden, as well as competing in the European Championship.
She has faced challenges, such as dealing with prejudice in a male dominated environment; the sudden media attention and pressure to perform, despite lack of experience and taking her A-level exam in England the morning of her first round of the European Championship in Belgium.
Catie is a current, up and coming athlete who has learnt that your mind puts boundaries on what you believe is attainable, but with training you can undo the boundaries to discover your capabilities are limitless if you channel your energy positively.
Catie inspires a field much larger than motorsport. At 19, she has overcome hurdles psychologically by training in quietening her mind to reach peak performance and make vital decisions in high pressured environments; had meetings with global CEO’s; spoken to 100 million people on BBC global news; learnt about negotiation, teamwork, leadership and failure. An education that she feels could never be taught in any classroom.
Catie works closely with organisations to even out gender ratio in work places, and encourages the next generation to challenge stereotypes and limitations put on them by society.
Catie’s journey is ongoing. Her passion for life and doing what you love is contagious. The best part is her future is unknown and what she makes of it. Having proven how much you can do in one year if you put your mind to it, she wants to inspire others to do the same.