Updated: Jun 23, 2022
From icy roads to dirt trails, the inaugural car control clinic helped drivers gain confidence behind the wheel to get to the trailhead of any adventure.
Every idea begins as a spark - in this case, the spark stemmed from an unexpected flat tire on the drive to a women's bike maintenance class. The issue was quickly remedied by Alicia Mau, who pulled over and swapped out the flat for a spare. While it was an easy fix for her, it turns out replacing a car tire is a new concept for others.
"When I arrived, the other women were surprised I was able to make it there so quickly, or even at all, and they mentioned many of them had never changed a tire before and would have been stranded," she explained. "My immediate thought was that, as drivers, we should all know how to do emergency maintenance on our vehicles. This is especially true when it comes to outdoorsy women that like to recreate further away from help and in areas with spotty cell phone service."
Pursuing play without compromising safety is a key standpoint to what SheJumps stands for. Ideally, the bike ride is an adventure and driving to the trailhead doesn’t become an epic itself. With a passion for helping women gain the skills and independence to travel safely to their outdoor pursuits, Alicia stepped into a leadership role to do just that.
A quick precursor: Alicia is no amateur when it comes to cars. For the past seven years, she has worked with BMW Puget Sound as a driver during their High Performance Driver Education, an event for those wanting to improve their driving techniques. Since then, she's become an instructor at their location, as well as at the Porsche Club.
"I love what SheJumps is providing to women, but saw areas that could be expanded such as with safety and rescue specific courses," Alicia explained. "In order to help fill these gaps, I decided to get involved as an official volunteer."
Now a Brand Ambassador at SheJumps, she became the change she wanted to see in the automobile industry, bringing together multiple organizations for the Women's Car Control Clinic at Pacific Raceways in Washington. "When I brought up the idea of a women's car control clinic, both clubs were very excited about supporting this program and really stepped up in helping make it a reality,” she said. “We also got support from DirtFish with a huge raffle donation and help from instructors and volunteers.”
The inaugural SheJumps Car Control Clinic focused on building confidence behind the wheel to handle difficult driving conditions and potential roadside issues that might occur - such as, of course, a flat tire.
In attendance at the event was Sarah Boisen, Western Washington Regional Coordinator at SheJumps. "It was empowering to see female instructors in action, all with a tremendous depth of knowledge and experience," she stated. "The event made car control and racing seem absolutely attainable and welcoming, especially for someone who came into the day with zero experience or confidence in the matter."
Sarah noticed that throughout the day, her own car handling progressed significantly. "Drivers always had one-on-one supervision and coaching with an expert driver who sat in their passenger seat and helped to push you out of your comfort zone in an informative and supportive way."
For Alicia, watching the student's fear turn into excitement was one of her favorite parts of the event. "We saw a lot of hesitation early on, but by the end of the day everyone had smiles on and increased confidence," she observed. "One specific moment that was fun was driving a student's car with her in the passenger seat so I could initiate an oversteer slide. Her expression was priceless."
Learning to regain control of a car after losing traction was an essential drill of the day, as it translates over to driving on a snowy mountain pass or icy roads. On top of that, the instructors worked with the students on skills including emergency braking and braking on a turn to learn about braking and traction limits for their own vehicles. The participants were also introduced to high performance driving techniques for those interested in taking driving to a sporty, racing level.
“Everyone seemed to have genuinely had a good time and walked away with some valuable experiences,” noted Alicia.
Sarah emphasized the sentiment. "From beginning each course feeling somewhat tentative and skeptical of what your car was capable of, to finding yourself cheering right alongside your instructor as you confidently spin your vehicle in circles around a cone...those are exactly the type of moments you hope for with these events.”
For those who couldn't make the event, Alicia and DirtFish created a free series on the SheJumps Blog about tips on Road Trip Safety and Trailside Auto Repairs to stay safe while traveling to your next adventure.
Photos provided by Alicia Mau & Naomi W.
SheJumps is an inclusive organization. We welcome all women and girls (transgender and cisgender) as well as non-binary people who identify with the women’s community. SheJumps strives to be an ally in the fight against racism and acknowledges that our events and programs take place on traditional, unceded Indigenous lands.