Meet Matilda, Engine Build Apprentice and Trials Competitor

We sat down with Matilda Walker, engine build apprentice with Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains, to talk all about her background in off-roading.

How did you get into off-roading? How did you get started?

My mum and dad met through racing, so my mum started trialling with her little Land Rover when she was 19 with her dad and they did it up in Leicestershire for a bit of fun. My dad started trialling when he was 18 with his series 2 that we still have. He did it with his cousin just for fun, and then they met however long ago and then they’ve always had a car, whether that is the racer that we still have at the minute or a trialler. When I was really really young, I can remember being dragged to trials, in the mud, freezing cold but could only watch. When I got a bit older, I was always still interested in cars, and my grandparents had a farm so I was forever working on bits and pieces around there. When I got closer to 12, 13 I thought I really want to try it. At the age of 13 you can compete in a Tyro: Try Your Rover Out, and this was with the Anglian Rover Owners Club. You can come along and give it a go, and that’s any roadgoing car, normally a land rover but our club is an open club so we get a lot of Suzukis as well. The event is non-damaging. You just put the canes out, drive through them and off you go! I absolutely loved it!

What do you like about it?

There are so many elements, because you’ve got the driving but also marshalling. Marshalling is a really big part of it, as without marshals, we can’t do the event so I take part in all areas at the event but I still enjoy all of it.

The social element is really good too – it’s a great little community, everyone is friends with each other, we do social events as a club, there’s club nights and AGMs along with other bits and pieces.

I love the challenge of it: the technical driving skills, but also overcoming that initial fear, that initial doubt. That challenge has really helped me and I think it’s helped me in more areas of my life than just driving. Initially thinking “oh my gosh, how am I going to do this?”, and then getting to the end of it and thinking “I did it!” because I thought about it, I planned, I stuck with it, and it was okay.

What’s the best thing about the grassroots community?

I would definitely say that everyone in the grassroots community will always help you. It’s like a big family. You’ve all got to start somewhere! Everyone is so encouraging, and everyone is always there to help. On an event, if someone breaks something, you will always see someone say “I happen to have this spare, have it”. Everyone always wants you to carry on and have fun.

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