New children's book is aimed at encouraging more girls into motorsport

Laura Hannon is a children’s author with a driving ambition, writes Pet O’Connell
New children's book is aimed at encouraging more girls into motorsport

Laura Hannon who has released a children's book called Daisy's 1st Race Car.

Daisy’s 1st Race Car, by Laura Hannon (€8)

IT’S Daisy’s birthday, and there’s only one thing on her mind: Cars. The fast variety.

She dreams of one day becoming a racing driver and when she wakes bright and early on the morning of her birthday, there waiting for her is her own toddler-sized race car.

Daisy hops into the driver’s seat, zooms off through the kitchen, round the chicane of table legs, and encounters her first collision - with the dog.

There’s another present for her too, a beautiful dolls’ house, but that remains untouched as Daisy has eyes only for her car.

There is one other item that interests her, however, but it’s not a birthday present. Still shunning the dolls’ house, Daisy seats herself inside the cardboard box in which the present arrived, imagining herself vrooming around the grand prix circuit.

A cardboard box, as all children know, can take you anywhere you choose to go in your imagination. Daisy’s dream of driving a race car, though, may be about to become reality for the book’s author, former CIT student Laura Hannon.

A motorsport fan from early childhood, she has been a mechanical engineer for the last decade and is passionate about providing girls with positive role models for studying STEM (science, technology, engineering, and maths) subjects and getting them involved in a male-dominated sport.

“My dad’s a Schumacher fan and formula one was always on in the house,” says Laura, whose own hero is Brazilian driver Felipe Massa.

“We always had bikes and cars around. I went and did mechanical engineering and that stems from a love of motorsports.

Daisy's 1st Race Car by Laura Hannon.
Daisy's 1st Race Car by Laura Hannon.

“I was really into STEM subjects and I was into drawing and designing as well,” adds Laura.

“A lot of mechanical engineers are very creative. Mechanical engineering is a mixture of both - you’ve got your scientific side but you also have the creative side of designing.”

Having drawn race cars as a teenage hobby, she returned to her creative interest during the Covid-19 lockdown.

“I was always into art but I kind of let it go because I was focusing on my engineering career, then over lockdown I started to draw again,” says Laura.

“Daisy was an inspiration. I had her in my head and I put it down on paper and the book came from that. I had this idea and just started drawing for fun.

“I really enjoyed doing it, and when I got to the end, I realised I had something that could maybe go out into the world.”

Laura then contacted Formula Female, which aims to introduce girls to motorsport and STEM, running a Go Girls karting programme, as well as promoting female role models in the sport.

Formula Female’s founder, Olympic hockey player Nicci Daly, was enthusiastic about Laura’s idea and agreed to collaborate on the book, with the result that Daisy’s mini race car and gear all bear the Formula Female logo.

“They are an organisation that helps women in motorsport and helps girls get interested in STEM through motorsport, so I knew they were who I wanted to collaborate with and they were fantastic,” says Laura.

Currently on a career break, Laura also received support from her employer, Thermo Fisher Scientific Cork, which presented her with an appreciation award to help with printing costs.

Not alone is Daisy’s 1st Race Car destined to make a positive impact by delivering an empowering message to female future racing drivers and engineers, but the proceeds from the self-published book will go towards children’s services at Cork University Hospital through cuhcharity.ie.

On top of that, the author finds herself in the unusual position of being motivated by her own book.

Having created Daisy and her race-car dream, Laura decided to try and live the dream herself by entering a competition for a place in the 2022 Formula Woman series.

Already in training at Mondello Park, Laura faces her first trial next month for a seat in the British GT Cup championship.

“I got inspired by my own book and I entered Formula Woman,” she says. “I wanted to practise what I preach - I’m trying to get other people to try this stuff and I realised I hadn’t tried it myself and I got a great opportunity with Formula Woman.”

On the basis that “if you can’t see it, you can’t be it” she hopes positive role models will help girls to see a future for themselves in motorsport and that Daisy can be part of that change.

“I’ve worked in a male-dominated area for over 10 years,” she says. “It wasn’t always easy and I had to learn a lot of tough lessons along the way. Ultimately, I needed to learn to believe in myself and never let anyone tell me I can’t do something.

“Daisy is my way of sharing this message. My dream is to empower girls and help the next generation to believe that anything is possible.”

Daisy’s 1st Race Car is available at Laura Hannon Books on Instagram or via https://laura-hannon-books.myshopify.com/

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