Karah Hill, SA’s Next Big Thing on the Race Track

SA Motorsport’s Karah Hill loves speed too much to slow down, and while the challenges for a young woman to gain competitor recognition and sponsor interest are aplenty, she’s focussed on chasing the chequered flag in domestic SA car racing. All Photos: Supplied

Racing Driver Karah Hill was captured by the speed and adrenaline of car racing when her father took her to the track at the age of 12. Since then she gained so much interest in the sport that landed her behind the wheel as a fierce competitor.

Motorsport has seen a steady rise in the number of females that compete in the sport globally, while a large population of us remain intimidated by the speed, that has not been an issue for Karah. 


“I’m not scared of going at a fast pace, I enjoy it way too much to slow down, however the only thing that is intimidating is racing against just guys.”

In South Africa women in sport are still somewhat of an afterthought when it comes to media coverage and sponsorship and investment. Back pages are still dominated by male sport stories. 

With that said, a sport like motor racing, not part of the big sporting codes in the country, is much worse. How far back are we as a nation? Hill explains while she also highlights that in certain aspects female race car drivers have it a tad better. 

“It’s very hard to be a woman in SA racing, you don’t get taken seriously enough at first, and you have to constantly keep trying to gain respect from the guys.”

Racing Driver Karah Hill

“I think being a woman here in racing is however easier than overseas racing, because majority of the guys I race against in my series at the moment don’t care that they race against a girl, and treat me as another car on the grid, whereas overseas you have to keep constantly proving that you are meant to be there.” 

Hill, whose favourite race track is the Aldo Scribante Racetrack in Port Elizabeth because of the quality of spectators, says a 9-5 job is still a massive necessity as sponsors are hard to come by. 

“The racing scene in SA is really more of you are lucky enough if you get sponsors to help pay for stuff, but majority of the drivers work on their own income to pay for their own racing.” 

“Only when you start racing overseas you can start making an income off of racing and being paid as a driver, whereas here you don’t get paid to be a driver, so sadly we still have to work a 9-5.”

Hill races in two series, The Supacup and the South African Endurance Series (SAES). She speaks about her recent performances and areas she’s identified that need improvement: 

“My last competition in the Supacup I didn’t do my best due to my car giving problems and me just trying to get used to the track, because I’ve never driven that car there. I was pleased with my results, I ended up going from 12th to 8th in the first race, but the guys I race against are extremely good racing drivers, so I’m still trying to learn from them.”

“In SAES, my last competition was with great my teammate Jurie Swart, and I managed to get pole in our class and win the class and get 3rd overall, which I’m extremely happy about, and so far, we leading the Class C Championship.”

As she reflects on her journey so far from 2017, her first year of racing to date, the 23-year-old has come very far. 

“I have achieved a lot from when I first started racing. I’ve gotten faster as a driver and have had major improvements since my first race. My proudest moments will have to be doing a 2hr endurance race by myself, in my first year of racing. 

“In 2022, I got voted by the other drivers for most improved driver for other series I use to race in (PoloCup), getting 2nd in the GR Cup Championship in 2023 and definitely will have to be the most recent one which was winning in our class in the SAES, the first time standing and being on same podium with my dad!”

Athletes sometimes can be very superstitious, judging by the number of peculiar and interesting practices we’ve witnessed as sport lovers, and Karah has a whole ritual before racing. 

“I put my overall on, I then put my racing balaclava on and my helmet, I take a few breathes to cool down my nerves then hop in the car.”

“I have a certain sequence: I have to put my belt on because I’m very superstitious. After I get my “good lucks” from my family. I proceed to run through the track in my head, and then I pray just before we start the race.”

The media as the main information tool, tasked to take the sport to the people through coverage, should raise the profile of the female racers, according to Hill. 

“I think they have but there’s always more that can happen. I think interviewing and bringing more light to all the girls in every series in racing will help promote it more. I know a few people that don’t know majority of the girls racing, and I truly believe that if there are more articles, interviews that are told about all the girls in SA racing, then it will advance women racing in racing.”

Racing seems like an expensive sport (raising the need for sponsorship), from training costs, attire, maintaining the cars, entry fees and travel expenses. How much worse is it for women? 

“The race cost is extremely expensive no matter what series you are in. I don’t know the exact cost of everything, but it’s not a sport that’s taken lightly, due to your life is at risk every time you step in the car, so you have to be willing to spend that much to make sure you are safe. 

“The race suit I have is Sparco-made, and they honestly are phenomenal all-around of what they have, as the race suit goes. We have to buy shoes, HANS device, fire proof socks, fire proof pants, fire proof T-shirt, balaclava, helmet, and the race suit itself that you can customise or get standard, and all of these aren’t cheap, and you have to get new everything after five years, otherwise it’s not effective anymore by standard FIA rules.”

Hill is only 23 years old and has still every opportunity to keep growing as one of the most formidable drivers to come out of South Africa.

“My career goals are to go overseas with racing and honestly participate in any endurance series I can get into, if not my fall back is to be a lawyer.”

Photo Caption: SA Motorsport’s Karah Hill loves speed too much to slow down, and while the challenges for a young woman to gain competitor recognition and sponsor interest are aplenty, she’s focussed on chasing the chequered flag in domestic SA car racing. All Photos: Supplied

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