Professional skier, world record holder and X games multi-medalist Grete Eliassen is used to trying out new experiences. From visiting Iraq and Afghanistan with the ProSports MVP, to attending the Women’s Foundation’s Galas, Eliassen found herself behind the wheel of a race-ready Jetta not too long ago in Salt Lake City. While skiing might be her first love, racing might be her new love. Read on.
Was this your first real car racing experience?
Yes, this was my first time in a race car. From the seat, belts, defender, helmet… the whole deal. And starting a race with all those other cars at the starting line was a trip.
How did it end up?
Well, I didn’t win. But I did pretty good, I think.Â All the “real drivers” said I was driving really well, so that was nice. I didn’t total the car either, so that was good. It’s so easy to let the car just go and see how fast you can make it around certain turns and you forget your tires might let out.
What were your expectationsÂ andÂ didÂ theÂ racingÂ meetÂ orÂ exceedÂ orÂ fallÂ shortÂ ofÂ thoseÂ expectations?
I had no expectations. I just wanted to keep it as a good learning experience. I was a little timid at first when I got into the car and lined up outside the track with all the other drivers. Because I had never driven next to so many people so fast before. You get a little nervous and excited waiting there. It didn’t really matter how well I did, but I still wanted to do well.
How was the race?
I can barely describe the feeling you get when you are racing down the track with 30+ other cars. After qualifiers I was super pumped up. And then they told me, “Wait till race day.” And sure enough race day was the craziest car ride of my life. I saw huge crashes, debris everywhere on the track, bumpers and such. I was just laughing and driving fast when all this was happening. I even did a 1260 into the dirt and made a dirt cloud in my car, but got back on the track.
WhoÂ isÂ yourÂ favoriteÂ driver?
Janet Guthrie is my favorite car racer. She was the first woman to ever race in the Indy 500. She is also a member of the Women’s Sports Foundation. I remember the first time I heard about her at an event. I was like, “What! No way! The first woman to ever be in the Indy 500 is here?” Because I was able to relate. Because just like freeskiing has always been male dominated. Car racing is the same way. Except Janet was racing hard in the 70s. So it just shows what great women there were to pave the way for all of us women that wanted to compete in sports as well.Â
WhatÂ madeÂ youÂ wantÂ toÂ getÂ intoÂ theÂ driver’sÂ seat?
I have always been an avid-karter. I love go-kart racing. So I got the opportunity and I took it. Unbelievable experience.
What’s your future like in this realm of sports?
Well, I think it is going to help my kart-game a lot. Definitely makes me want to get a Volkswagen Jetta. Those cars rally!
All images supplied by Stan Evans