You could call her a Renaissance woman. Julia Tyson ’22 is a studio art and communication studies double major with a penchant for auto racing. When she’s not working on her studies, you’ll find her on the track in her 1990 MX-5 Mazda Miata winding her way around Roebling Road Raceway near her hometown of Savannah, Georgia.
Just months after getting her license to compete from the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association, Tyson, the only female racer, was a second place finisher in two events at her first official Sport Car Club of America-sanctioned race in August.
It all started with a Tire Rack Street Survival program Tyson participated in at the age of 15 that taught her how to recover from spinouts, slides, skids and other road hazards. Then, from the age of 16, with a few autocross events and several track days under her belt, Tyson officially contracted the racing bug.
“It’s my passion and I enjoy every second of it,” she said.
Often the only female in the field, Tyson says it doesn’t bother her. “I get a lot of support from my racing family,” she said. “Most racers want to see more females out there, and they especially want to see an overall increase in the number of younger drivers.”
Tyson, who specializes in photography, takes her artistic sensibilities with her on the road. In racing and in art, she says, “you must have solid hand-eye coordination – you have to follow your racing line, just like you follow lines in art.” At the same time, Tyson isn’t afraid to venture outside the lines, especially when it comes to testing the limits of her 1.6-liter Miata engine.
For now, Tyson is excited about reuniting (at a safe distance) with friends and professors at Furman and learning more about the racing world on her way, she hopes, to more podium appearances in between studies. Her next stop is the Mazda Heritage Cup at the Vintage Drivers Club of America “Hurricane in Savannah” race. She’ll make a pitstop at the Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta Grand Prix this season, and she plans to race at Daytona, Charlotte Speedway and Virginia International Raceway the following season.
Down the road, she has her eye on bigger things like racing professionally on a team for the International Motor Sports Association. “I see myself being a very capable competitor,” she said.