21 May ASHLEY SAHAKIAN — Racecar Driver or Model or Both
ARTICLE WRITTEN BY http://americancarsamericangirls.com/show/26736/shows/ashley-sahakian-racecar-driver-or-model-or-both/
Ashley Sahakian is 21 years old and was born and raised in the west island of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Ashley studied at John Molson School of Business after graduating from John Abbott college with a Summa Cum Laude status in Business Administration. Ashley has many goals and ambitions in life. Ashley aspires to one day run her father’s company, United Auto, alongside her brother, Christopher. She has always had a passion for cars and would be honored to carry on the family business started by her father, George Sahakian.
Ashley started racing in the lateral part of 2015 in the Nissan Micra Cup. Although she did not have any prior racing experience, she proved her abilities and earned her racing license in only 2 short weekends. 2016 was her real debut, being her first full year automobile racing. She fought hard and took home several rookie trophies throughout the season.
This year (2017), she will be moving up to the Canadian Touring Car Championship in a Mustang Boss 302 S. She is very excited to jump into the high-speed races. Ashley absolutely loves the thrill of racing and going fast. Since the first time she got into a race car, she has not looked back. Her goal is to become a professional race car driver and race in series like Porsche GT3 and IMSA.
AsHley likes to stay active by going to the gym and playing sports. One of her favorite sports, aside from race car driving, is soccer. She has been playing soccer since the age of 4. Ashley also enjoys drawing, painting, playing the piano, modelling and travelling. She does freelance modelling and would like to continue doing it, while racing. Ashley also travels quite often to many places around the world. Ashley likes to live life to the fullest by never missing an opportunity to do something.
Q&A’S WITH ASHLEY SAHAKIAN
ACAG: The winning of the 2015 Miss Quebec Pageant is a big accomplishment and seemed to be something that meant a lot to you. Was there talent, bathing suit and evening gowns modeling, interviews or what?
Ashley: Yes, indeed it was. There was a bit of everything in the pageant and its main focus was to showcase confidence on stage and charity work. There was an evening gown, swimwear, talent, national costume to showcase where you came from, an interview question on stage to show your ability to speak under pressure in front of a large audience, and even a speech about the platform charity of your choice. For my talent portion, I actually dressed up in a race suit and played a video of my racing. For my platform charity, I chose starlight children’s foundation because it is really close to my heart and I believe all children deserve to smile again and be a normal kid, especially in their time of need, and that is what Starlight does. So, when I won miss Quebec, I was very involved with the organization and volunteered at almost every event they held in Montreal, and still continue to volunteer to this day. One major event, which we partner with is the Drive for Smiles starlight event.
ACAG: It appears United Auto is doing a lot of your sponsoring for your racing. Tell us about United Auto.
Ashley: United Auto is my father’s company.
It is a luxury car dealership. They sell pre-owned, high-end vehicles, as well as new vehicles locally and around the world. They also have finance and lease programs available for the retail customers. My father started the company in 1991 and United Auto just celebrated its 25th anniversary this past year. United Auto Racing is a sub-division of United Auto, also started by my father for his children to start racing. Without my parents and United Auto, none of this would be possible for my brother and I.
I also want to thank our other sponsors: vinpac lines, BMA-MPR Transport, Luxy Media, Spotted Cars Quebec, Formule Ford, and MS-Simulator for their ongoing support.
ACAG: Your 2016 season was considered your rookie season in the Canadian Nissan Micra Cup. It was a little more than a rookie season for your because this was your first time racing anything. You must have learned a ton that year? (In the Canadian Nissan Micra Cup series, Canadian Nissan Micras are nearly stock except for safety modifications and all are identically prepared the the same)
Ashley: In 2015, I did 4 races with the Micra cup, but 2016 was really my first year of full time racing. It was hard for me at first because I had never raced prior to it, nor did I drive a manual car. So, while learning how to drive manual, I also learnt how to race. By 2016, I was well aware of how to drive a manual car and had one less thing to focus on, so I had more time to focus on the racing skills of it. I learnt a lot from my first year, especially starting in a series where every car is on the same level. It really came down to driver skill and experience. So, I was behind many of the drivers due to their years of experience in racing. However, I was able to take home a few rookie trophies and managed not to finish last. I am really proud of my accomplishments in 2016.
ACAG: In 2016, while you were struggling along in your rookie season in the Nissan Micra Cup, your brother was winning the Grand Touring Class in the Canadian Touring Car Championship. Is he giving you any driving tips or advice?
Ashley: Yes, he always tries to help me as much as he can. This past winter, we went to Florida to train and he sat with me to show me how to improve in the car. He was also in the Nissan Micra Cup and helped me a lot there too. I would follow him in the practice sessions to see what his line versus mine in order for me to get faster. We are a team and we work together, but there is still friendly sibling competition.
ACAG: In the 2017 season, you will be joining your brother on the United Auto Racing team in the CTCC Grand Touring class. A big jump I suppose?
Ashley: It is a big jump. I am getting into a car that’s basically 3x faster than the Micra, not to mention way more powerful. This is why my father had us go to Florida with the mustang. My coach was able to get me up to speed in the stronger car and towards the end, my brother sat with me and helped me even more since he is used to the car and knows the ins and outs of it.
ACAG: Looks like your spent some time in at the Sebring race track this winter getting some driving time in your Mustang Boss 302. Was this an organized driving school or was the track just open for the drivers to get some practice? Did you have a driver’s coach along?
Ashley: I went to Sebring numerous times this past winter. We were lapping with chin track days. I drove in my brother’s mustang to get up to speed in it. My coach was there alone with me for the first few times in order for me to get ample track time. Toward the end, my brother came down also. He sat with me and helped me even more since he is used to the car and knows the ins and outs of it.
ACAG: Why did United Auto Racing choose to go racing with the Mustangs?
Ashley: After doing research on CTCC and the different divisions, we decided to go into the grand touring division with the mustangs. The mustangs are well balanced cars for this type of racing in this division. There is a lot of research and development done on the car by Ford and it is proven to be good on the race track for several years. There is also good ford performance support and the car is very reliable. After Chris (my brother) won the championship last year, my father and crew chief decided mustangs will be our race cars. The raw power is incredible. Why change something that works?
ACAG: Tell us about a CTCC Grand touring race: Is it time or number laps, do you have to make a pit stop for gas or tires, is it a standing or rolling start?
Ashley: The CTCC series has been going on for more than 10 years now. There are 3 divisions and we race in the grand touring division, based on power and weight. They are 40 minute races and we do not need to stop for tires or gas. It is a rolling start.
ACAG: What would be a successful rookie season for you in the CTCC?
Ashley: I think a successful rookie season for me in CTCC would be to start and finish every race. I am aiming to hit the top 5 and have a few podiums this year as well. I’d like to improve and keep up with the “big boys”. Also, a goal of mine would be to beat my brother in at least one race.
ACAG: Have you learned the road racing ropes so that you can tell your crew chief what the cars is doing or not to doing so he can make the adjustments to make the car faster for you?
Ashley: I would say that I have learned a lot about the racing ropes, but still have a lot to learn. I can feel was the car is doing and try to explain it as best as possible to my crew and car chief in order for them to help adjust it. They usually know exactly what I am talking about.
ACAG: You have a driving simulator. With these simulators can you dial in a certain track with a certain car or what? How much time do you spend on your simulator?
Ashley: We just got the simulator from MS-Simulator. We use a program called IRacing, which allows you to race on a great number of tracks with multiple cars. We have it set up with the same mustangs that we use on the track, as well as the same setup, in regards to tire pressure, alignment, etc. Some tracks that we race on that are on the game include Canadian Tire Motorsport park and we have three rivers race track set up as well. I spend about 15 hours a week on the simulator, I would say. It does help a lot and the tracks are exactly how we see them in real life. It just gives me more seat time.—————————————————————————————————————————
ACAG: During the week between races do you ever go down to the garage and do any work on your race car?
Ashley: Personally, I do not do work on the race car, but I try to help sometimes. My car chief does work on the race car after every race weekend in order for it to be in tip top shape for the next race weekend. I also stand by him to learn more about my race car and the mechanics of it in order to help me on the track.
ACAG: The last couple of years seem to have been Miss Quebec and racing. Where has that left you with modeling and college?
Ashley: I was able to finish college before entering the pageant and racing. I also did one year of university. 2016 was a really busy year for me and I managed to do both. Miss Quebec took a lot of my time up, as I was doing 2-3 appearances a month by volunteering or attending events, but I made time for every single race weekend that I had, as well as all my brother’s CTCC race weekends. I still do modelling occasionally, in between racing and work, but it has become a bit harder. I am lucky in the sense that I work for my father and he supports my modelling career as well, so he let’s me take off a few days for it.
ACAG: It seems like you enjoy the sun and surf, warm weather and bikinis. Any thought of moving to southern California or Florida?
Ashley: It is actually a dream of mine to move to those 2 places in particular. I am a summer baby and love the warmth, sun, and beach. Bikini weather is my favorite weather. If I lived in Florida or even California, I would be able to enjoy it all the time and race even more also.
ACAG: French or English, which is your first language?
Ashley: My first language is English. I live in the west island of Montreal, which is more anglophone. Also, my parents, my family, ad my friends are all mainly English. I am fluent in French as well, but I do not get as much practice with it as I would like to, in order to maintain the fluency.
ACAG: What racing series do you follow and who is/are the drivers you like?
Ashley: I follow the IMSA Continental Series. I know and follow a few drivers like Chris Green, Jesse Lazare, and Jade Buford. They are all very talented drivers. I actually got the chance to sit with Jade and got some coaching from him. I am happy that there are 2 girls in the series, but I am not familiar with their driving. He also drives a mustang, so he was able to help me quite a bit. I also follow formula 1 and my favorite driver is Lewis Hamilton, but I am happy to watch a fellow Montrealer, Lance Stroll in the series.
ACAG: At the end of the day would you rather be a Victoria’s Secret model or race car driver?
Ashley: I say, why can’t I do both? I would want to be a driver in the IMSA series and look like a model while doing it. I could be like Danica Patrick, who races in Nascar and models.