Leona Chin, local speed queen dominating the racetrack

Leona Chin is one of Malaysia’s top professional racers. (Leona Chin pic)

SEPANG: Ever heard the stereotype that women are bad drivers? Well, better give that a rethink. Malaysia’s Leona Chin, a female motorsport athlete, is proving to be a daredevil behind the wheel.

For around 18 years, Chin, 37, has been the force to beat in Southeast Asian motorsports, outpacing her male rivals often as the only woman on the track.

Fuelled by a hunger for speed, she has stacked up numerous trophies and podium finishes and shows no intention of slowing down.

FMT Lifestyle recently witnessed Chin in action at Round 1 of the Malaysia Championship Series (MCS) at the Sepang International Circuit.

Chin in her Suzuki Swift, competing in the Malaysia Championship Series (MCS) at the Sepang International Circuit. (Owen Lee pic)

This national racing series, formerly the Malaysian Super Series (MSS) championship introduced in 2002, is a key motorsport event in the region, drawing top racers, both locally and internationally.

Having won overall first place back in 2021, Chin was in good spirits to take down her competitors, racing in the touring car category from May 3-5.

“My mental state right now is super excited,” she said when speaking with FMT Lifestyle on the final day, explaining that she was left totally unsatisfied with how day one turned out as she was only able to complete one full lap then.

“There’s a lot of fire in me right now, and I’m going to go all out,” she said, just moments before the race.

Chin was devastated to be bumped down in the race after a shocking crash. (Owen Lee pic)

However, this day’s race did not go as planned either.

With her team’s support, Chin drove her neon yellow Suzuki Swift to the track and hit the pedal. However, midway, the race turned ugly when she was involved in an unexpected crash.

A fellow competitor had rammed into her from the side, causing her to skid onto the grass. The collision heavily damaged her car, jolting her neck and injuring her leg.

“I was devastated after the crash, because I was already somewhere in the middle,” Chin said, the frustration apparent in her voice. What’s worse, she had just spent close to RM100,000 on her newly-built race car, making its destruction all the more heart-breaking.

Do moments like these ever scare Chin? “No, I get angrier. Because, I already lost a lot of pace, so all I was focused on was to keep chasing, keep overtaking the car in front.”

Chin’s passion for speed began at a young age and intensified when she discovered drifting. (Owen Lee pic)

Chin’s fascination with cars and speed began at a young age. While other girls played with dolls, she was obsessed with the Gran Turismo video games.

This interest intensified in high school when she met a friend who was a drifter. After participating in a number of competitions, Chin became known as the “Drift Queen” before transitioning to racing.

In fact, you may have seen Chin’s viral videos pranking driving instructors in her nerdy getup. Now a professional racer, she says it’s completely different, requiring immense mental strength.

“Other teams will play mind games with you during the race. They will flash their headlights, block you, put out a finger or even wave out the window,” she said. “It can trick your mind and cause confusion, so you have to be very mentally calm.”

This Subang native came from humble beginnings, but has big dreams. (Fauzi Yunus @ FMT Lifestyle)

After losing her father at age 16, Chin admitted it wasn’t easy to convince her mum to support her pursuit of professional racing.

“My mum was nervous because she considered racing dangerous,” the Subang native shared. “But after I brought her to one of my races and she saw all the safety procedures in place, she was never worried again.”

“And once the trophies started coming home, she was just proud,” Chin said with a smile.

Despite her numerous achievements, she admitted it was tough to make it in this industry without help. “Currently, I do all of this on my own budget, and it’s really costly.”

Hoping to find sponsors and encourage more youth to join motorsports, Chin continues to leave a trail of burning rubber on the racetracks of the world, proudly representing Malaysia.

Although this race may have been a setback on the points table, there’s still the fourth round in September to see if she’ll be standing on the podium of the Malaysia Championship Series, setting an example for all girls out there that the possibilities are limitless.

Follow Leona Chin on Instagram, Facebook and check out her website.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *