A CANCER survivor is back on track in more ways than one as she prepares to compete in a global racing competition.
Sophie Umhofer says her ‘whole world collapsed’ when she was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer three-and-a-half years ago.
The mum-of-two from Kenilworth was initially being investigated for Crohn’s disease when she received the crushing news.
She told the Observer: “I was absolutely devastated.
“The doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me, and at this point I was being investigated for Crohn’s disease, so it was a total shock to everyone, including the doctors. My whole world collapsed when they gave us the news.”
But after undergoing radical treatment, Sophie is still reeling after being given the all-clear.
The 40-year-old said: “It was total shock. I had spent the past three years getting used to the fact that I would die soon.
“I had been preparing for my death for the sake of my kids, I had stopped looking into the future and just saw a few weeks ahead at the most.
“So to be told that the cancer was no longer there, I just couldn’t believe it. It’s months later and I’m still absorbing it!”
As a keen go-karter and simulation racer, it was when Sophie spotted an advert for ‘Formula Woman’, that she was inspired to take her passion to the next level.
The competition is designed for amateur women of all ages and aims to promote women’s involvement in motorsport.
She explained the lightbulb moment: “At my age, I didn’t think racing would ever be an option as it’s a sport you need to get into when you’re young. Or if you’re older, you need a lot of money.
“I had thought I would just stick to go-karting and sim racing to satisfy my racing needs, but when I read about Formula Woman, I got really excited and thought why not?
“I love the freedom, adrenaline and skill it takes.”
After an online and practical assessment in Anglesey, in September, Sophie is now among 50 finalists around the world set to compete for a place in the 2022 GT Cup Championship which takes place in April.
And Sophie is hoping her new pursuit will help breakdown gender barriers in the male-dominated sport.
She said: “Every female in motorsport says once the helmet is on, you don’t think of it as racing against a man or woman – you are just racing. It’s equal ground.
“There’s obviously still that stigma about ‘women drivers’ which will influence the way young girls think. And I know this still happens among kids in karting which is pretty shocking in today’s age.
“We just need to have more women shown in the sport so young girls can see its something for them too. I think the change is happening finally, but not quick enough.
“I have a daughter who really enjoys driving and I want her to grow up into a world where motorsport would be an option.”