GIOVANNA AMATI : ONE FAST WOMAN
What makes a glamorous young woman want to risk life and limb on the track?
“Motor racing is a passion. For me it’s so deep I can’t live without it,” says speed-loving Giovanna Amati, a 27-year-old Italian who is widely acknowledged to be one of the fastest women drivers around. As a member of the British-based team GA Motor-sports, she competed in Formula 3000 races in a car twice as powerful as a Jaguar XJS.
She raced at 180 mph in a class that has won a reputation for aggressive competitiveness, with many drivers taking dramatic risks to make their mark. This year, however, she is without the money necessary to race in F3000, a group that is just one step below Formula 1, so she is competing as a guest driver at circuits around the world while looking for the right sponsorship package.
“I don’t want to be decoration at the track” she says. “I want to win.” Determination shines through this beautiful woman’s every move and every word. When she was, she used to ride a 350cc motorcycle around her native city of Rome, hiding it from her parents. A year later, she bought a 500cc machine and she still keeps a motorcycle at home today. Despite opposition from her father, a Roman industrialist, Giovanna 3 pursued her driving ambition, joining a racing school where she won the graduates race in 1980.
From there she has worked her way up successive formulas. Motor racing is a sport still heavily dominated by men. Some men, particularly fellow Italians, find their ego dented when they’re beaten by her, says Giovanna. She spends as much time working with the mechanics as she does on the track.
“I love everything about the cars. You have to enjoy the mechanical side and be able to explain exactly why you think the car is not performing correctly.” Vital factors in achieving racing success are physical fitness and mental attitude. “You can’t afford to get tired. You’re often racing for one and a half hours in temperatures of around degrees. In tennis, if you miss a ball, you lose a point. In motor racing a mistake can cost you your life.”
When she’s in Rome, Giovanna works out every day with her coach at the sports clinic she attends. “I do a lot of skipping to build up stamina, weight training for strength and many reaction exercises.” Her diet and health are monitored by a nutritionist who analyses her blood and adjusts her eating plans accordingly. The risks in racing are huge and drivers have to rise above them.
“You don’t think about accidents,” says Giovanna. “You feel sorry, of course, if someone is injured but you can’t let yourself dwell on it – that would make you slow down.” Motor racing also demands sacrifices. “You risk everything – as well as your life, you risk losing your friends and your security. I do miss not having a man but I have to be number one when I’m with a man; he must be there to care for me when I am at home – and that’s very difficult to find.”
The glamorous, big money image of racing holds little appeal. “There are people who race for the money,” says Giovanna, “but I don’t. And you don’t go to parties – you have to sleep, to relax . If I wanted to go to parties, I’d be at home in Rome.”
A. Find words or phrases in the text which mean the same as the following.
1. strong, deep and uncontrollable feeling (paragraph 1):
2. striking (paragraph 2):
3. followed (paragraph 3):
4. gradually became better in (paragraph 3):
5. damaged or hurt (paragraph 4):
6. necessary (paragraph 6):
7. carefully observed (paragraph 7):
8. think about (paragraph 8):
B. Mark the best choice. The main idea of the sixth paragraph is that . a) racing at high temperatures makes the driver lose his physical balance b) tiredness is the cause of fatal racing accidents c) a race driver should be both physically and mentally fit d) motor racing is more difficult than playing tennis
C. Mark the statements as True (T) or False (F).
1. Competitors entering Formula 3000 races have to spend money out of their own pockets or have sponsors.
2. Amati doesn’t enjoy riding motorcycles.
3. Male drivers have readily accepted Amati as a competitor.
4. The mechanical side of racing is as important as the skill shown on the race-track. 5. Amati does three main kinds of exercise at the sports clinic.
D. 1. What is one of the greatest risks in motor racing?
2. How does Giovanna rise above the risks?
3. Is she optimistic or pessimistic about accepting men into her private life? Why?