Christina Nielsen: A Sports Car Driver

There is something passed from fathers who believe in their daughters. I can speak for my co-host Abby when I say we both had those fathers who believed in us. Some daughters strike out on their own paths taking different careers from their fathers (like us). Some daughters see what their fathers have done and go “I can do that and do it better”, like recently featured female driver Vanina Ickx (read that feature HERE) and Christina Nielsen. You shouldn’t know Christina Nielsen because her father was a driver who competed in Le Mans. You should know about Christina because she is a huge deal and isn’t stopping anytime soon.
My personal statement is about the fact that nothing, including your gender, should stop you from pursuing your dreams and doing what you want.
(Christina Nielsen)
Later than some, Christina started into speed when she tried karting at the age of thirteen. Like most racecar drivers, she felt the need for speed and didn’t slow down. After a few years in karting, in 2010 Christina switched over to Formula Ford Denmark. This is the entry level of single-seater competition, for a season. She followed a season in Formula Ford Denmark with a single season in ADAC (Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club e.V) Formel Masters
In 2012, Christina made the transition in GT racing. GT, for those who may not know, is a sports car racing. The cars are like the cars we drive and you’ll see them at most endurance races (such as the Twenty-Four Hours of LeMans and the Rolex 24 Hours). Christina started her GT career in the Porsche Career Cup Germany, that race in Porsche 911, and finished the season in 9th overall. This was the best position for a female driver. The next season Christina raced in the ADAC GT Masters, still in a Porshe, and was the winner of the B-Championship after securing fourteen podiums and five wins.
Christina made the big step into racing a full season in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship series in 2015 in the GTD (D for Daytona) class. It wasn’t that Christina just made the commitment to full-time racing in IMSA in 2015. She and her co-drivers Kuno Wittmer and James Davison (who we interviewed twice and you can hear those interviews HERE and HERE) finished the season in second place in the class. Not content with coming in second, in 2016 Christina made history. She became the first woman to win a major full-season professional sports car championship when she and her co-drivers won the 2016 IMSA championship. In this season the team came in first at the 12 Hours of Sebring, the 6 Hours at the Glen; and two-second place finishes at Laguna Seca and Petit LeMans. She came back in 2017 and again scored a championship in the series. While competing in IMSA full-time, Christina attempted LeMans in 2016 (6th in class); 2017 (14th in class); and 2018 (6th in class). Christina is the first Danish female to compete in LeMans.
Christina Nielson 2018
In 2018 Christina finished the IMSA season with two first-place finishes at Road America and Thunderhill and a second-place finish at Virginia. At the beginning of the series, Christina was named a Porsche Selected Driver, the first-ever driver named to that position. The program was set up by the factory to support Silver-Level drivers (there are various categories for drivers based on their accomplishments and experience) with driver development and support in fitness and media training. Even though she was named to this position at the beginning of the 2018 season, Christina found herself at the end of the season without a team for the 2019 season.
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In October of 2018, Meyer Shank Racing announced the formation of an all-female team for IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in the GTD class. The team is led by and will race under the banner of, Jackie Heinricher’s race team: Heinricher Racing. The team line up was: Jackie, Katherine Legge, Bia Figueiredo (Ana Beatriz), and Simona De Silvestro. In December, Jackie had to step away from driving duties due to a back injury, and Christina was selected to step in and drive during the Rolex 24. With this year’s Rolex being full of cautions (you can catch the write up HERE and our Race Report Episode HERE) and cars in all sorts of trouble, not receiving a DNF is a feat. The car did get damage, but the car got back on the track and finished the race. They were Top 10 and approaching the Top 5 at times during the race. The team ended the race in 13th place.
She is very talented and has accomplished a tremendous amount in her young career and will be a great fit with the team. It was a tough decision to step out but it’s what’s best for me, the drivers and the team. I’ll be right there with everyone from the pit stand and ready to get back in the car for the rest of the season.
(Heinricher on Christina subbing in)
Christina is a member of Team Denmark, the country’s program to support their top athletes. She also has a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Management Communication. She’s not only pretty darn good on the track, but she has valuable skills for the business side of racing.
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