She is a stunning Hollywood star (Django Unchained), has written a book about Spanish Pop artist Equipo Crónica, model and philantropist (New York Center for Children). But for 20 or so weekends a year, she like millions all over the world, likes nothing better than enjoying the spectacle of Formula 1. She knows her stuff and will be attending more races or maybe running a team in the future, so F1 Race Directors take note, her name is Nichole Galicia.
First question, how did you get into F1? Which event, driver or race drew you into the sport?
NG: While living in England, I fell in love with F1. More accurately, F1 was forced upon me by a former boyfriend, who I will call “The Stig”. I could either be ignored for several hours every qualy and race day or I could sit next to him and ask him every annoying question I could think of. I chose the later and I was hooked. “The Stig” was obsessed with James Hunt, so like any good girlfriend would, I fell in love with Niki Lauda.
Hollywood is fascinated by speed and high-performance automobiles. Which is your favorite racing movie or car-chase scene?
NG: Among my favorite racing movies would have to be “Senna”, “Le Mans” and “Drive” (mostly because Ryan Gosling is in it), but my all-time favorite racing movie is hands down Ron Howard’s “Rush”. OK the fact that it has yet to be released is but a minor technicality! How could anyone not love the epic tale of Niki Lauda. His dedication to make it to F1, and then to drive for Ferrari, the return from injury, the battle with Hunt, the retirement and then the return to become champion again, come on it’s almost Shakespearean!
Who is your favourite racing driver of all time? If you were a team-principal, which 2 CURRENT drivers would you like to sign and why?
NG: I have to go with (Niki) Lauda as my favorite of all time for the reasons already given. We are lucky to have a really strong group of drivers currently so the best 2 drivers to sign is a tough question. First to be signed has to be Hamilton. He’s the quickest driver over a single lap, wears his heart on his sleeve and is just an amazing racer.
Watching Hamilton at Monaco gives me goose bumps. I love watching some of his perfectly groomed demeanor fall off, he is human after all. The other seat would be Alonso the Great, he’s the toughest racer out there. He is consistently competitive in a car which has never been the fastest the last 2 years. It really is amazing what he is doing with that Ferrari. To me, he was the unofficial world champion last year. I love and hate his killer instinct: it is both his blessing and his curse. Of course my Hamilton-Alonso combination of drivers has been tried before at Mclaren and didn’t work out so well, but with me managing the team I think we’ll be just fine!
Being American, you have a choice of F1 vs IndyCar, NASCAR. Do you follow any other motorsport series?
There are other motorsport series?! Just joking, NASCAR doesn’t do it for me as it seems like too much of a lottery. Also the oval and the slight turn to the …sorry I fell asleep mid-sentence. IndyCar still has to win me back after the debacle of splitting the series. So pretty much I’m a Formula One girl for life.
“Women in Motorsport”: do you think there is an issue to be addressed or it should be expected that men dominate the sport?
NG: I think there is an issue to be addressed. It’s one of the few sports where women have the opportunity to compete directly with men yet women are under-represented. There should be more done to expose young girls to karting so we can get interest piqued on a grass-roots level. Aside from competing in the sport, we need more female team managers, more female commentators and female points of view when it comes to analysis, more female mechanics, etc. How about we get some hot buff boys to hold the flags at the next F1 race and find a woman to do the grid walk and ham it up with Eddie Jordan. I volunteer my services.
Do you race, either games or real cars? If not, would you like to race some day?
NG: No, I can barely drive and I’m hoping to meet Jeremy Clarkson some day because I believe he is the only one with enough nerve to teach me to parallel park. Having said that, my dream car is a Ferrari 275 GTB so maybe I have a need for speed!
You tweeted some photos of yourself at a race last year. Was that your first race? How was the experience? Which other races have you been to or would like to attend?
NG: My dream races to attend would be Spa as it’s my favorite circuit, It could rain, snow and be brilliantly sunny all in the same race. Monaco just because it’s fancy, and Monza because I’m sure I haven’t lived until I get to sit in the stands with the Tifosi.
My very first live race was Turkey 2009. I had been acting as a F1 Cyrano of sorts to a friend of mine who had become close to a recent star racer (I’m being very careful not to reveal any identities LOL). Anyway he knew zero about F1 and would call me EVERY qualy and EVERY race to ask for…well my wisdom to make him look good with his new friend on the occasion that the subject of the race came up. I would text him brilliant one liners, email him more detailed analysis and quiz him before a meeting with “The Racer”. One day, I got a panicked call from him saying he was invited to the Turkish GP and couldn’t get out of it. Because I’m a good friend, I of course offered to go, stick by his side like a shadow and butt in on any conversation about the race, to save him from being discovered. We arrive at the race, I get my passes put around my neck, we are immediately taken to the pits, I’m walking by the Ferrari garage, the Mclaren garage, the Lotus garage and as my head is spinning I look and Niki Lauda is walking towards me…in slow motion. Some dust must have gotten into my eyes or something because I burst into tears (yes I do realize there is no crying in F1), I walk over to Niki and had some I’m sure rambling incoherent stupid conversation which ended with him walking me onto the grid. Ahhh…I ditched my friend, I didn’t even look back to give him the ‘I will be right back signal’. I was with Niki Lauda and the rest was a blur! I was on the Speed Channel’s news feed (who at the time covered F1 in the US) and under my face, as I sat watching the race from the garage, appeared the words “Naomi Campbell”. Really, F1 gods, really?! I’ve been to two races since then, but nothing is as good as the first time, even if when Niki tells this story he says he met Naomi!
And finally, on a non-racing note, which movie will your fans see you in next and when is it released?
NG: I just did a film produced by Ron Howard and directed by my “Django Unchained” co-star Jamie Foxx. It’s a short film for Howard’s Project Imaginat10n sponsored by Canon. I play the female lead in what is being called “The Untitled Foxx Project”. It will premiere in NY in October and then make the film festival rounds.