Our Q&A series on Monaco’s Canadian community, in honour of Canada’s 150th, talks to Valerie Chiasson, 28, professional race car driver and the first female to get podium position at the Canadian Grand Prix.
ML: You were born in Repentigny, Quebec, population 82,000.
VC: Life in Repentigny, which is about 20 minutes from Montreal, is really peaceful and quiet. I now live in Luxembourg and Canada but I’m in Monaco one week a month at the moment. I like the international community in Monaco and its outlook on life. The weather is perfect for my training and I always enjoy my time here. Maybe I’ll live in Monaco, you never know!
ML: You are the Canadian Ambassador for the 150th anniversary of the Canadian confederation in Monaco for 2017. How did you get involved and what is your role?
VC: As I’m in Monaco every month, I feel part of the community so it’s an honour for me to represent Canada for these special events in the Principality in 2017. It’s a pleasure for me to contribute to get more Canadians involved in Canadian-Monaco international relations. I run an international business and Monaco is one of my turnkey locations to make global connections.
ML: Tell us about your business that brings you to Monaco.
VC: I have two companies. VCE Auto Marketing is a marketing and publicity company and VCE International is a business market development for Patents. I have products in technologies and industry 4.0, one of which I may possibly present at CleanEquity Monaco in March.
ML: You first got a taste for racing at age 11 driving a kart. Can you describe that first racing feeling?
VC: Everybody has a different taste with their first experience! Mine was amazing. I was comfortable on my first lap and enjoyed every moment of steering the kart.
ML: How would you describe speed?
VC: The sensation of speed changes over the years … I don’t feel it very much anymore although the adrenaline makes it seem like nothing can stop you!
ML: Is it true that you raced motorcycles on ice?
VC: No. When I was 11, I wanted to race a motorcycle on ice but my father did not approve … so I decided to race karts instead.
ML: What kind of driver are you when you’re off track, say running errands?
VC: Totally normal and calm.
ML: How disciplined is your life in this profession?
VC: Discipline is one of the most important things in my sport. I train five times a week and eat what my nutritionist tells me to. I take nutritional supplements and drink very little six months a year … only champagne when its the right time!
ML: How has your racing career evolved over the years?
VC: Every year it’s a new challenge. In 2017, I’ll race in Canada and the US with BestLine Autotech based in Toronto, Canada. I will compete in another Porsche GT3 Cup. The announcement of my new season and new partners will be made soon. My calendar in Europe is not completely decided so stay tuned on my social media (@val_chiasson) and subscribe on the Public List for events open to everyone!
ML: Can you share one of your favourite racing memories?
VC: When I was young, my dream was to race on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal during the Formula One. The first time, in 2014, I drove in the Touring Car class and finished 4th and 5th out of 35 cars.
In 2015, I had my first podium position and made history to be the first female ever to make an official podium in all categories during the Canadian Grand Prix. The 13 years of racing and support from my family led up to this moment. I was in tears!
ML: What is one of the most valuable lessons you have learned in your racing career?
VC: The force of character and to never ever give up because tenacity and determination are the most important things in life.
ML: You once said that you want “to help young ones discover racing”. Why is this important to you?
VC: Over the past 15 years, I have learned a lot and I can say that maturity and experience help to build a career. I want to help young drivers to make their dreams come true with the same experiences I had over the years and to assist with better team development around young athletes, who need a team and not just a push from their parents! It’s the difference between being an amateur all their life or being able to step up to professional racing.
ML: In 2016 you were named ASN Canada’s representative with the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile’s WiM (Women in Motorsport Commission). What does this honour mean to you, and what is your role?
VC: I’m still a representative this year, which means that I’m ready to be the best female role model that I can be for the FIA for my country. I’m looking also for new potential talent in Motorsports and am ready to help them.
ML: Do you see women’s place in Motorsport improving?
VC: Yes and no. I can see more women in Motorsport but the step to becoming a professional driver is still really hard for young women in the sport. We need more support from partners to help the development of young talented women in Motorsports.
ML: What is your racing career goal?
VC: I dream about the Porsche Supercup series. I still have three years of racing and then I’ll focus on marketing management for young drivers after that.
ML: Your career has taken you around the world. How are you received as a Canadian?
VC: Canadians are very welcome in the world I have to say. I’m blessed for that.
ML: What do you think makes Canadians so loved?
VC: Our energy and positive thinking.
ML: When you are away from home in Mont Tremblant, what do you miss the most?
VC: The nature, the lakes, the summer cycling, which are all unique to this place.
ML: Woman in sport you most admire and why?
VC: Michelle Mouton, the French former rally driver because she is a fighter and retired British racing driver Susie Wolff, who is strong and believes in herself. Her story is really amazing.
Article first published January 31, 2017.