I wanted to play with my classmates, participate in events such as the sports festival, and experience things that are typical of high school girls, but now I am happy. But now, I am happy. I am able to put all my energy into what I love.
The Japanese 16-year-old, who is the focus of worldwide attention, continued, “I have had many unusual experiences, and I think I am growing as a person.
Juju, a.k.a. Noda Juju, a high school girl racer whose father is former F1 driver Hideki Noda (53), is the first Asian woman, let alone a Japanese, to compete in a Formula 1 race. She is said to be the closest to becoming an F1 driver, an unprecedented feat for an Asian woman, let alone a Japanese one.
Only 20 people in the world are eligible to become an F1 driver, but Juju has defied many conventional wisdom.
He made his racing debut at the age of 4, becoming the world’s youngest Formula 1 driver at age 9. Because of age restrictions on Japanese circuits, she left her home country at the age of 14 and suddenly won her debut race in the Danish F4 race, which she has participated in since 2008. Her success was recognized, and this year she became the youngest racer in the world to compete in the women-only “W Series.
My earliest memory of racing is when I was four years old. I was running as fast as I could while all the little kids around me were scared. It’s true that I wasn’t scared at all; in fact, I was having a lot of fun (laughs). I went to see my father’s retirement race when I was 4 years old. When I was four years old, I went to see my father retire from racing. I remember thinking to myself at a young age, ‘This is the last time my father will run, so I’ll do my best for the rest.
A high school girl and a professional racer. It’s a bit of a gap between being a high school girl and a professional racer, but Juju laughs, “It’s very comfortable.
I live in a motorhome (camper) with my family, moving from place to place around the world. It has a shower, kitchen, toilet, and two bedrooms, so I can relax. It’s no different from an apartment. I am a high school student, so my studies are important to me. I take classes online and do assignments that are sent to me in batches. When I’m not racing or training, I’m stuck in my motorhome. During the season, I practice, go to the track, race, do interviews, train, and study all over again.
In his spare time, he enjoys hanging out with friends and relaxing with animals.
In Japan, I have six dogs and three cats. People often say to me, ‘You have a very special life,’ but my family and friends treat me quite normally. In my private life, I rarely touch the races, so I feel like I am able to fully enjoy the little private time I have.
In his current life, he rarely goes to school in real life, which limits his opportunities to interact with classmates and seniors, but Juju says, “In school, the oldest age difference is two years, but as a racer, I have the opportunity to meet sponsors and engineers. At school, the youngest age between us is two, but at the racer, I have many opportunities to talk with sponsors, engineers, and other adults, so I can learn a lot,” he says positively.
Has he ever had a breakdown or felt like running away?
When I was 7 years old, I cried because I lost a race, and my father told me, ‘It’s okay to lose. I was crying because I lost a race when I was seven years old. The important thing is to never give up, even if you lose. I still cherish those words to this day. In fact, losing is a more important experience for growth than winning. When you lose, you practice and study until you think, “With this, I will never lose again. I make a reason to believe that there is no way I can lose.
In the first round of the W Series, he qualified 18th (the lowest position) and finished 15th in race 2, and 13th in the second race. If he can reach the podium within two years, his dream of becoming an F1 driver will be a lot closer.
I believe that to become an F1 driver, you have to work extraordinarily hard and have a strong will,” he said. I believe that others are others and I am my biggest rival, but if I continue to do my best, I will be able to reach my dream one day.
Her answers are perfect. I asked him, “Isn’t there anything you’re not good at?” The 16-year-old showed his white teeth.
I guess I’m good at cleaning up.
You can watch the super high school girl’s challenge at the Suzuka Circuit this October.
From the July 15, 2022 issue of FRIDAY