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Ann Doherty: Ferraris, Race Fever and Family at ProFormance

It all started with a birthday present, albeit a rare one. When Ann Doherty received a Ferrari 488 Spider – her dream car – from her husband Matt, she decided to test it out at Seattle Ferrari’s Track Day. “I’d never been on a track. It was the first time I was able to ‘drive like a jackass’ legally.” Since then she hasn’t taken her foot off the gas.

This May — Women in Motorsports Month — we’re checking in with some of the notable women who have contributed so much to life and work at ProFormance Racing School.

A Warm Welcome to Racing

Ann with one of her “girls.”

One of the keys to her continued enthusiasm for racing is the ProFormance atmosphere. “It’s a family,” she says. “I wouldn’t have stuck with this if not for my experience with ProFormance: the acceptance, the inclusion, the encouragement.”

“It can be intimidating being one of the few girls out there,” she notes. “But getting phone calls from them on my birthday – it’s that same dynamic you have in your own family. And when you find it outside your family, that’s priceless.”

No Gender on the Track

“Traditionally racing has been male-dominated world. I think that it’s still that way, to no purpose.” Ann notes that females arrive at a driving event and look for other females for support, but there often aren’t any. At ProFormance, however, that’s not a problem. “I wasn’t approached as a female – I was approached as a driver.”

The helmet is
the great equalizer.

It probably doesn’t hurt that she’s experienced and confident, and once again, the helmet is the great equalizer. “Quite a few times I’d pass people on the track, and after I’d take my helmet off and they’d say, ‘You’re a girl!’ It’s fascinating.”

When not on the track, Ann likes to watch Formula 1, the Porsche Cup, and NASCAR. She has another dream car on the way: a Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport. “My goal is to run with the big boys – that means girls and boys – and race in the Porsche Club series.”

Ann’s fascination with cars began in high school, when she noticed that a fellow student had installed a Glasspack muffler on his ‘66 Mustang. “At that moment I was sold! I was going to learn how he did that.” Eventually she got a ’66 Mustang too; the Ferrari wasn’t her first birthday dream car.

Firing Up a New Generation

Ann is doing her best to keep Doherty women in the sport. “My daughter is 19. I signed her up for the HPDE. She was on the phone with her father the night before, begging not to go. But it was paid for, and she went. At the end of the day, she wanted to sign up for her Competition license.

Ann’s four kids think her racing is “pretty freakin’ fantastic.” And it’s not just her daughter that she’s encouraged to try the track. “My girlfriends ask me if it’s scary out there. They say, ‘Aren’t you scared to go that fast? And anyway, I just have a Subaru.'”

“My advice is: just go. You don’t have to be fast. It doesn’t matter what car you have. At first it seems impossible, and then it’s no longer impossible.” A statement of which Ann herself is ample proof.

Top Photo: Ann Doherty in the Ferrari that started it all. Photo credit: karlnoakes.com

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