International Women’s Day: Abbie Eaton

For being part of a highly successful show on Amazon Prime, Abbie Eaton is largely anonymous. During her two-seasons as the test driver on “The Grand Tour” she was initially referred to simply as “Abbie” by Jeremy Clarkson and then it was upgraded to her full name by her second season.

She rarely took off her helmet and to a certain degree she was quite similar to her spiritual predecessor The Stig: A hired gun, a specialist in her field and briefly acknowledged in the closing credits.

But Eaton is more than that. The 29-year-old Yorkshire, England native has an impressive resume behind the wheel:

She started karting at the age of 10 and competed in the Super 1 National Kart Championships. Eaton progressed to the Production Touring Car Championship and won the 2009 Class B championship and second in the overall championship.

In 2010 she drove a Mazda MX-5 in British GT, due to sponsorship issues she was only to run a single race. She has eleven top-10 finishes in the 2011 Mazda MX-5 Cup. From 2015-2017 she drove in the UK GT Cup, British GT Championship and the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup.

Her current endeavors are the Brticar Endurance Championship and the upcoming W Series.

In the Britcar Endurance Championship she will pilot the Praga R1 in the Praga class with Charlie Martin (former LMP3 and Ginetta GT5 racer), Jimmy Broadbent (Esports), and amateurs Jay Morton & Mr. JWWW.

Her priority in 2021 is the W Series, which was put on hold in 2020 due to the COVID global pandemic, and she will drive in the Britcar Endurance Championship as her schedule allows.

The W Series was formed in 2018 and is an all-female single-seater racing series. The series was developed and formed due to a lack of opportunities for women to progress to the highest levels of motorsports. In 2021 the W Series began partnering with Formula 1.

“Being in a male-dominated sport, you have to be hungrier and more aggressive on track to get what you want, Eaton said. “You have to prove you’re not going to get messed about. I think that’s why racing in a female championship is going to be harder than in a mixed one. Our collective determination is so much more potent.”

Eaton also works as a fully-qualified A Grade ARDS instructor. As a driving coach she has had to destroy stereotypes and sexist concepts put forth by men towards female instructors. In those situations her abilities as a driver can shutdown prejudicial ideas.

“If I can change people’s perceptions, I’m happy with it. I’m not going to go out of my way to do that, but if a guy comes up with a little bit of a thought on how female drivers are going to be and then they leave me thinking ‘wow, I feel a little bit stupid here having preconceived ideas’, then I’ve done my job.” – Abbie Eaton, “The Race’s Hidden Voices” podcast