When Rachel Preston was eight years old she was forced to drop out of field hockey to chase her passion of “petrophysics,” an off-road version of racing that allows drivers to “travel across country using less fuel than running a bucketful of water for miles.”
“You need lots of tiny little cylinders,” she told The WorldPost. “I needed that literally from the very beginning — to be precise, 2,000 volts. That’s how many you need, minimum.”
Preston is just 19 but she’s already amassed plenty of experience — and is staking out an elite position in the male-dominated sport. She and a British motocross world champion first met at age 10, when she joined him on a track ride on a narrow dirt path in the countryside. They shared a love of learning about science and their interest in racing simulators soon pushed them together.
“I took everything off his leg to make a jump. That’s when he said, ‘I want to race with you.’ I was like, ‘No, you don’t want to race, that’s a man’s sport,’” she recalled with a laugh. “So he’s like, ‘Yeah, it’s OK.’ He took everything off my leg, I jumped and screamed a bit, looked at him, and said, ‘That’s what I’m going to do.’”
The two entered their first motocross race together in England two years later. Now, they’re signed with world-renowned Adidas motorsport agency Stunt MVNO, and they’re racing on the reality TV show Nitro Circus with more than 6 million viewers in the U.S. alone. The show offers competitive, amateur racers a place on the world-renowned Nitro Circus Stage, and the prize is getting into Nitro Circus.
In addition to winning awards and being a champion motocross racer, Preston is managing to become the first female chauffeur for a team of motocross racers.
So just how to win a world championship in a sport full of men? To help her achieve her goal, she’s channeling her own enthusiasm for science: “I’m betting on myself, making all the calculations,” she said.