An introduction to Liz
D.O.B: December 14, 1978
Place of Birth: San Diego, California, USA
Lives: East Grinstead, West Sussex, UK
Profession: Racing Driver and Professional Equestrian
Education: University of California Santa Barbara (Biology)
33-year-old Californian Liz Halliday is a unique sportswoman. Now based in Sussex, England, Liz has dedicated her life to the pursuit of not one, but two international sporting careers. On the one hand she is an international motor racing driver who competes in sportscar and GT endurance racing; on the other, she is an international equestrian in Three-Day Eventing.
Liz has two lofty ambitions: to become the first female driver to win the world famous Le Mans 24 Hour race and to claim a place on the US Olympic equestrian team.
From humble beginnings in historic racing with a vintage Datsun 510, Liz graduated to the Kumho BMW Championship for the start of the new millennium and was named ‘Driver of the Year’ in 2002 before claiming her first win, at Croft in England, in 2003, breaking the track record in the process.
The same year she added to her growing reputation by making her sportscar debut, becoming the first female driver ever to win a round of the British GT Championship, as well as competing in Australia's legendary Bathurst 1000 and the Spa 1000kms in Belgium.
2004 saw Liz return to the USA to race in the Rolex Grand-Am Sports Car Series, taking a podium at Homestead/Miami, whilst she also made her ALMS debut, entering Petit Le Mans and Laguna Seca in a Porsche 911 GT3 and took part in her first twice-around-the-clock event, the Spa 24 Hours.
A full season racing for Lister in the FIA GT Championship followed in 2005 and Liz’s success soon fuelled her rapid ascent to the top-tier ‘prototype’ categories. Later that year she joined the Intersport Racing squad to drive their Lola-AER in the LMP2 class of the ALMS. It was to be a superb season, with Liz taking three class victories and being named ‘Rookie of the Year’ by experts from leading website dailysportscar.com. She also helped co-driver Clint Field take the ALMS LMP2 drivers’ title, whilst finishing fourth in the final championship standings herself, despite only completing half the season.
Perhaps even more exciting for Liz in 2005 was her debut in the Le Mans 24 Hours. Despite leading the LMP2 class for nearly half the race and edging closer to one of her personal goals, the event ultimately ended in disappointment after engine problems forced an early retirement eleven hours in.
2006 saw Liz continue her run of success, taking three more wins and seven further podiums in the American Le Mans Series to finish as runner-up in the LMP2 drivers’ championship. These results made her the most successful female competitor ever in ALMS history, whilst she also finished her first Le Mans 24 Hours, although gearbox and engine problems meant the car just missed a podium placing, taking fourth in class.
The 2007 season saw Liz become the first woman to race the Aston Martin DBR9 on the international scene, securing a class podium at the 12 Hours of Sebring and a fourth place finish at Monza. For the Le Mans 24 Hours however she returned to the LMP2 class at the wheel of Del Bello Racing’s Courage LC75-AER and led the class before a gearbox problem forced an early morning retirement.
In 2008 she made her long awaited return to the American Le Mans Series, competing with Creation AIM at Petit Le Mans and Laguna Seca, while also racing at the Nurburgring 1000kms in the European-based Le Mans Series.
For 2009 Liz elected to scale back her racing activities to channel her efforts into 3-Day Eventing and Chailey Stud, her burgeoning East Sussex-based equestrian centre. This would prove a fruitful decision as she achieved a string of impressive eventing results and grew Chailey Stud grow into South England's premier facility.
However despite motorsport taking a reduced role she continued to flex her competitive muscles by contesting a number of historic races, including runs at the Silverstone Classic and the Goodwood Revival.
On the equestrian front Liz’s pursuit of the top step in the Olympics will also be driven by horsepower. She currently has several horses that she feels will help her get closer to her ultimate Olympic goal, given the right training regime and the luck that every sporting star needs, and continues to expand her competition record. Liz has competed at international 3* level in eventing, and finished amongst the top third of the field in the Boekelo CCI*** in the Netherlands. She has also competed up to Medium level in Dressage and has trained up to Prix St-Georges level.
Keen to go wheel-to-wheel once more, 2012 will see Liz return to regular competition by contesting the ultra competitive Lotus Cup UK for the John Danby Racing squad. Tackling the championship aboard one of the iconic British sporscar maker's 2-Eleven machines, she will embark on a campaign that includes trips to British Grand Prix venue Silverstone, Brands Hatch and historic Dutch circuit Zolder.
However her return to the cockpit won't see Liz reduce her commitment to equestrian competition. Indeed, she will continue to focus heavily on eventing and Chailey Stud this year, which should make 2012 breathlessly busy for the Californian.
Despite the challenge of competing in both sports simultaneously, Liz is equally determined to succeed as a driver and equestrian, and is prepared to work hard and make sacrifices to reach her ultimate goals.
As Liz herself says: “Everyone tells me that I am mad to have this twin sporting focus in my life, but I find that one complements the other. The cars demand focus, accuracy, and strength. In Eventing it’s the same but the horses, as well as the rider, must possess these attributes in order for the two to work as a successful partnership.”
Over the past few years Liz has also added a third string to her career bow by working as a broadcaster with several of the world’s top TV Networks. In the US she worked as a pit lane reporter and expert summariser with CBS Sports on their coverage of the American Le Mans Series, and more recently performed the role of expert judge on SPEED TV's GT Academy. In Europe both Eurosport and Motors TV have utilised her services as a commentator for their Le Mans Series and Le Mans 24 Hours coverage, whilst in the UK she also worked with Sky TV alongside David Coulthard and Eddie Irvine for the hit reality show ‘The Race’, where she acted as a professional driver coach to a team of female celebrities.
She is also an ARDS-qualified instructor and has experience working with young racing drivers and corporate clients at track days. As part of this role she has acted as BWRDC mentor to a number of budding racers.
Click here to view Liz Halliday's Racing CV