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From attending a bank to car racing: María Jesús Salvatierra and the will to go against the current and fulfill her great dream

María Jesús Salvatierra poses next to her car in the run-up to the race.  Photo: Courtesy Damián Barischpolski

To work in attention to the public in the Banco Provincia./em> to run on the tracks at full speed. It is the story of María Jesús Salvatierra. She is 32 years old and her life took a turn when she realized that it was possible to practice her great passion, motorsports, without anyone opposing her. As a girl, she looked like a mechanic. She even asked her parents to enroll her in a specialized school to live closer to what she dreamed of doing. The big plan on Sundays was to go to a racetrack to experience -not see- a race. If she couldn’t, her obligation was to watch it on television. And although many people told her that this is not a sport for women and that she was not going to make it, her dream was stronger. And till worked for free for the Bora Cup in exchange for being allowed to run.

The path was not easy. In January 2020, she treated herself to a race car test for her birthday. She spent all his savings. He felt the rush of running. And he confirmed that that was what he wanted for his life. The pandemic, inopportune, became one more barrier. But she didn’t stop her. She motivated her to train every day at her house to get ready and physically reach ten points on the day of her debut. But she was still missing for that.

At the age of 11 he learned to drive and as soon as he turned 16 he obtained the registration with special permission from his parents. Her first goal was to have her own car and she started working in different places to get it. And obviously she did. He took four years. Her story began in the Buenos Aires town of Saladillo, the place where she was born and where she had her first approach to engines as an official worker in the agency of Chevy. Later he decided to move to Cañuelas and joined Wurth, the German brand of tools that helped her make the leap to enter the Bora Cup. She loved being there, but she left it to join Banco Provincia.

María Jesús Salvatierra poses next to her car in the run-up to the race. Photo: Courtesy Damián Barischpolski

-Who gave you the passion for motorsports?

-I like it since I was little, but I think it was born to me alone. It is true that my dad likes it and he is a fan of watching the races on weekends. And that he lived near the workshop of (Fabián) Giustozzi -motorcyclist and coach of the Turismo Carretera- in Saladillo. And when she was little she said that she wanted to be a mechanic. At the age of 10 they took me to the first race.

-In your house they were linked to motorsports?

-On Sundays in my house they saw the races yes or yes. When I was 10 years old they took me to the race on July 9, I had an uncle who knew a pilot and my dad saw that he was so excited about the race that they had given him a bracelet to enter the pits and he gave it to me so that I could go meet. It was crazy only mine.

-At school you also decided to bond with cars…

-When I turned 15 I started to go to a technical school and decided to switch to electromechanics: I was the only woman among 60 men. I tried to find out about go-karting, but it was very expensive. My old ones did not give me much ball. At that time there were hardly any women in the business and, on top of that, I had no financial or known means to let me run. Then it started to happen to me because I came to live in Cañuelas and I started to meet more people.

-Why did you move to Cañuelas?

I used to work in an agency. Chevy in Saladillo and my boyfriend in Cañuelas. So I came and went every day until I got into work at Wurth, which opened all the doors to contacts because they took me to different careers. He was selling and advertising all over the country and thus he knew more about motorsports. There I met a karting instructor who invited me to a test, they told me that they would pay me for everything and that’s where it really started. I started with tests, I went to different circuits and every time I had some money, because everything was very expensive, I paid for a test. But he couldn’t always do it.

María Jesús Salvatierra at the racetrack.  Photo: Courtesy Damián Barischpolski.

María Jesús Salvatierra at the racetrack. Photo: Courtesy Damián Barischpolski.

-Did you start training in quarantine because you knew you wanted to do this or as a hobby?

-Everything resurfaced with the pandemic. I did the last test in January 2020. It was my birthday present. And I realized that I did 40 laps all day and I got very tired physically. With the pandemic, since I was at home, I decided to train myself to improve. He did it every day with a trainer just to keep up with the competition.

-How did you get into the Bora Cup?

-I got in touch with the Bora Cup category and I wanted to be in that environment yes or yes. I started doing interviews on Instagram with pilots, I took courses in photography, motorcycling, social networks, and I began to provide these services to pilots so that they could get to know me better. When I was able to contact Copa Bora, they offered me to go for a test. I went at the end of 2020 and they asked me if I wanted to work for them with social media and I I arranged for him to work without a salary in exchange for them giving me a car and letting me try the category. I got involved and I’m already with them.

María Jesús Salvatierra in the run up to the race. Photo: Courtesy Damián Barischpolski

-Do you think that at some point you will have to stop working in the bank to dedicate yourself completely to motorsport?

No, because they are two different things. The bank is my job and I like it. the other is my passion, but I don’t think I can leave my job to dedicate myself to this. Firstly because of the stability and secondly, because of my age, I recognize that I am not going to be able to have a great sports career. Yes, I like it and I want to continue involved in the environment doing something that goes beyond economics but not much more than that. Besides, with more reason, I worked for a long time in the Bora Cup just for love and for a place in a race, I never thought about silver.

-How was your debut?

-After a long struggle, because it is a very complicated environment for women, they agreed and gave me the opportunity to race because in the summer I took a pilot course to compete. Once I was ready, I went to a test that a pilot did before racing and they told me to get on. They saw me well, I felt comfortable and they asked me if I was going to run next time. I agreed and spent all my savings because I didn’t have a sponsor yet. I went to Saladillo, I contacted many people and they all helped me to cover part of the expenses.

-Did you have a running team?

-Do not. I went totally alone. I had a girl, Romina Castro, who helped me with everything related to telemetry to improve. I went without doing any test because, if I wanted to do it, I had to pay. And I earmarked everything for the race. She put me a little camera to study and it worked because in the end it didn’t go badly for me, in the final there were 20 cars, 18 finished the lap and I finished in 13th place. My idea was to finish and with the car healthy. I had no money to fix it, I wanted to learn and get there. In the beginners’ training on Friday I did well. On Saturday I had already dropped three seconds and for qualifying I had one ahead that was covering me and I couldn’t set a better time but it didn’t go bad.

The car with which María Jesús Salvatierra ran. Photo: Courtesy Damián Barischpolski

Did it cost you more than you thought?

-I lived it well. I enjoyed it and felt like I flew a lot. I felt safe. I was insecure when the day of the race arrived and I had 20 cars next to me. In fact, I didn’t think it would go so well for the first time.

-How do you get used to living in a place where the majority are men?

-It’s hard. At first it’s like you have to get used to it. It’s a complicated environment for women, when you don’t come from a pilot father or brother, it’s like you fall from a parachute and they look at you as if to say: ‘What are you coming for?’ That is where you have to be sure of what you want and what you are going for. If not, they don’t make it easy for you. Now it’s different because I’ve been here for two years and I’m one more, but at first I even took care of how I dressed. You don’t stop being a woman in a male environment. To give you an idea, the other day we were five women and 70 men. Everything costs. It’s hard for them to take you seriously. I had to put up with a lot of things. To be told that I wasn’t going to be able to, that it wasn’t for me, that I was crazy, that I was going to kill someone… Luckily I didn’t listen to anyone because in the end those same ones are the ones who ended up opening the doors for me . When I finished running, I got out of the car and from the same category they told me that they didn’t expect so much from me and luckily I turned a deaf ear to everyone. Real statistics say that women drive better because we are more cautious. The problem is that women do not have security behind the wheel and even more so when they judge us all the time.

-Do you feel any gender difference within the sport?

-I believe and I heard that they believe that there are no women in motorsports because we do not have the strength or the ability. Not all, but it happens. It is a matter that they made the children learn at 11 or 12 and the women only at 16 or 20 years old. You cannot pretend that they have the same level. It didn’t happen to me with my colleagues because they always encouraged me to run, but there are some who believe that women can’t do this.

María Jesús Salvatierra poses next to her car in the run-up to the race. Photo: Courtesy Damián Barischpolski

-How do you think your career is going now?

-I would like to continue looking for the budget. It had advertisements but you have to look again. It is possible that the Banco Provincia./em> sponsored me, but the reality is that if everything goes well, I want to continue all year. At least with the Bora Cup. The idea now is to focus on that to improve and on that basis see what I do. I always liked the car with a roof, I would not go to a karting, but I want to take advantage of the few years that I have left.

– Why few years?

-If it were up to me, I would continue a lot more. Oh well, at some point there is the idea of ​​having to be a mother. For now I don’t want, but in a few years I reckon yes. I told my husband that after fulfilling my dream, I am going to be a mother. I started and for now it is not in my plans. I don’t feel that motherhood fulfills a woman. It’s not my priority right now. For now I am focused on my passion.

– Is that your only limit?

-Yes. One child is the limit I can have in motorsports. This year and at least next year I want to continue competing. I’ll see later.

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