We all have to make our own way and step out from the shadow of our parents. For most of us, it’s easy to forge our own path and not get caught by the importance of our names. For others, a famous parent will result in constant comparisons. Jacky “Le Mans” Ickx is Vanina’s father. Vanina has not let herself gain advantages because of her name, nor has comparison been an albatross around her neck. Race car driving was not what Vanina wanted for her career. Her passion was biology, and she stepped into driving almost by accident – subbing in for a driver.
Vanina started racing late, at the age of twenty-one. She’s found herself racing in all types of racing over her career. The most prevalent type, no surprise given her father’s record, is endurance races. She’s raced in the Spa 24 hour at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps many times, including one race with her father as a co-driver. Her best finish at that race came in 2000 with a third-place finish. She has also attempted the 24 Hours of LeMans a total of seven times, finish the race five times, and obtaining top-ten finishes four times. Stepping away from the more traditional endurance races, Vanina also competed in the Dakar Rally, including the 2000 race with her father. While the two may not have podiumed for that race, attempting a multi-day rally race in desert conditions with a family member is enough to win a medal.
Aside from endurance races, Vanina found success in the Belcar (the Belgium national sports car series) taking home the Ladies Trophy in 2004. She continued in the series in 2005, having another successful year. Then in 2006, she became a DTM driver for Audi before Katherine Legge replaced her in 2008 (Katherine was a recently featured driver on this blog – you can read that entry HERE). More interesting is Vanina’s turn in solar-powered cars. In 2010 she was the first driver to use a Citroen Survolt car at Le Mans. The following year, she participated in the World Solar Challenge for Umicore Solar Team.
This past year Vanina took part in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb as a celebration Belgian manufacturer Automobiles Gillet’s 25th anniversary. Vanina participated in the Time Attack 1 Class, which is for specialized production-based race vehicles. She came in 34 with a time just under 11 minutes.
Vanina described her childhood as one of caution and fear. She has raced in some of the most challenging races on some of the most challenging courses. She’s also set records off the track, including a speed record at a ski jump and being the first woman to cross the English Channel in an ultra-light. She is no longer tethered by fear nor constrained by a family name.
If you want to receive emails only on Monday letting you know what blogs have been posted – sign up to the mailing list: http://eepurl.com/dOoc9n
Vanina was recently featured as the Woman of the Week on the podcast (you can listen to that episode HERE), one of the many features we have for non-race weeks. You can subscribe by visiting our subscribe page: www.fastcarsfastgirls.com/subscribe