I’m a female supercar instructor – every bloke thinks they can drive but they always make the same stupid mistake
Getting paid to drive £200,000 supercars around a race track sounds like the dream job.
But for supercar instructor Toni Lee, 59, it’s a reality.
Toni has worked at Car Chase Heroes for the last five years, giving people the ride of a lifetime in Lamborghinis, Ferraris and McClarens.
But with bachelor parties and young racers just learning to drive sitting in the seat of Toni’s Audi R8 V10 Plus, which starts at £134,500, the racing ace admits her job can also be “downright scary” – although she does it’s always got their own brake on hand.
“Everyone thinks they can drive, but 90 percent of people can’t,” laughs Toni. “It can be bloody scary most of the time.
“I’ve got guys who’ve been driving c**p for probably 50 years and they say to me, ‘I wish I had come to you years ago.'”
“It’s dangerous,” she says. “I was entrusted with a £200,000 car. I have to protect the car, the people and myself at the same time.”
Toni has had a passion for cars since she was young, watching stock car racing and motorsports.
“I’ve always raced,” she says. “I’ve always watched Formula 1 and all motorsports on TV. I’m a petrolhead.
“I love my cars. I’ve always had nice cars – Porsches, Toyota Supras, BMWs. I now have an Audi TT.”
Her passion continued to grow when she met her now husband, Barry Lee, who is a four-time Hot Rod World Champion, three Paris Dakar racers and also a British Truck Racing Champion.
The two traveled the world together teaching students road safety, but it had been seven years since she had impressed staff with a driving experience she had gifted when she was offered a job.
Toni recalls: “I drove an Audi R8, an Aston Martin, a Ferrari and a Lamborghini and all the instructors said, ‘Who taught you to drive?’
“They asked me to come on board as an instructor, and I was like, ‘Are you kidding?’
“I was 52 at the time and it’s a very young environment. They have young wannabe racers, some think they’re God’s gift and they’re not.
“There are hardly any women and it was pretty difficult for me in this company at first because they didn’t take me seriously.”
Toni eventually went to Car Chase Heroes – but is still one of the few full-time female instructors.
She says: “They treat me with respect now because they know how hard I work.
“Because it’s a male-dominated environment, I have to be strong. I have to prove myself every day and show that I’m capable of doing this job because it involves a lot of responsibility.”
Toni’s biggest bogeyman are “youngsters” who have only recently learned to drive and who they say are the scariest drivers in the passenger seat.
She says: “They pass a test, get a little fiesta, then it’s a rainy night, they drift into the corners and end up in the ditch.
“You get people coming off a one-liter Corsa pulling about 110 horsepower into the Audi V10 Plus, that’s zero to 60 in 3.2 seconds, and accelerating like they’re backing up their Corsa.
“I have to step on the brakes and grab the steering wheel. Also, I’ve got a brake down there – I’m not that damn stupid!”
Luckily Toni has never had an accident at work and actually feels safer on the race track than on the road after being hit in the rear four years ago while going over a roundabout.
She says: “I actually had PTSD from that, but I’m fine on the track because we’re all trained the same way.”
Bachelor party dressed as Batman
Aside from the scary parts of her job, Toni’s time at Car Chase Heroes has brought with it some fun moments – as bachelorette parties often come to test drive the cars, as well as Batman fans who come and try out the Batmobile on offer dressed as a superhero or Catwoman and Robin.
“These guys are fully equipped,” she laughs. “I picked up a guy who was wearing his Batman outfit which had bulges to make it look like he had a six pack abs and I don’t know why I didn’t laugh.
“He was deadly serious and had waited his entire life to drive this car, so I couldn’t laugh.
I just thought, ‘Imagine, if we break down, the police will come and take a look.’ It would be like a sketch from Only Fools with Del Boy and Rodney dressed as Batman and Robin!”
To drive in a supercar like Toni, you can have an experience at Buyagift.