In 2018, Aliyyah switched from tennis to racing and has already become the youngest Truck Racing Winner in history. She reveals why Asperger’s may have helped her to become such a skilled racer and talks about her work empowering children wired in the same way.
WHEEL SISTERS: Aliyyah, please introduce yourself.
Aliyyah: I am Aliyyah Koloc – I was born in Dubai and still consider Dubai to be my home even though I travel around 35-40 weeks every year.
I am a professional racing driver for BUGGYRA Racing and BUGGYRA Academy.
I am also the Global Ambassador for the AVL Racing – Young Drivers program as well as ZERO Mileage Lubricants.
I also support the AUTIS Center in Prague.
WHEEL SISTERS: You are the youngest Truck Racing Winner in history and were World Speed Truck Record Holder at the age of only 16. Congratulations on those successes. Can you tell us a little bit about your background? How were you introduced to motorsport?
Aliyyah: My father is 2x ETRC champion and owner of Buggyra Racing team so we have been going to watch the races since I was a baby. At 4 years old I started playing tennis – I played for 10 years and was seriously planning to become a pro player. But I stopped at the end of 2018 because of problems with my knees.
I tried karting, off-road and circuit driving to get a taste of racing. Trucks caught my interest during the winter testing. I ended up trying it and I enjoyed it very much so I continued training.
WHEEL SISTERS: What helped you to improve your racing skills?
Aliyyah: I started quite late so I trained a lot in a short period of time in many different kinds of vehicles. I was also very fortunate to have amazing mentors to teach me.
WHEEL SISTERS: What makes your driving stand out from the crowd?
Aliyyah: It’s difficult to say, maybe my computerized way of thinking and decision making. I am able to take a lot of risks but always proportionally to the immediate analysis of risk/reward ratio parameters. I usually make very few mistakes and always think far ahead during the race.
WHEEL SISTERS: Your parents said that you have always been a bit different to other children. Three years ago, you were diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. How did that change your life? In which ways does this disorder make you stronger?
Aliyyah: It makes many things easier to understand once you know that your head is “wired” differently. To make any comparison is very difficult for me as I have never experienced any other feelings than mine. I only know that socializing with people is not my forte. It might be that Asperger’s gives me the strength to focus endlessly on a specific task.
WHEEL SISTERS: Empowering children with Asperger syndrome is a big part of your life. Can you tell us a bit about your initiatives?
Aliyyah: The base of my initiative is to encourage people to talk about autism and Asperger syndrome. There are many Asperger kids who are labeled as “weird” or “twisted” even by their own families, because parents never understood the reason. What has surprised me is that many top athletes approached me with their issue of hidden Asperger’s once I started to speak about it.
I am trying to be a spokesperson for everyone with Asperger syndrome who hasn’t yet found the strength to talk about it. I support a few initiatives and people who need my help.
WHEEL SISTERS: Your twin sister Yasmeen is your team member and most trusted friend. In which ways does she support you?
Aliyyah: It’s great to have her. Whether we’re apart or not we always support each other in every way possible. I’m very grateful to have her by my side.
The fact that my sister also races cars means that we spend a lot of time together.
WHEEL SISTERS: You are still a student and at the same time you participate in races and trainings around the world. How do you manage these stressful times?
Aliyyah: I have great people around me to help me and go through these hard times with me.
WHEEL SISTERS: This year you faced sexism and racism at the Dakar Rally. How do you feel about this incident today?
Aliyyah: I don’t think about it now, if anything it motivated me to get better. All I’m focused on right now is my racing season.
WHEEL SISTERS: Are women and men equal in the world of motorsport?
Aliyyah: There’s no reason we shouldn’t be… we’re all racers under the helmet. Of course, there are going to be people who think otherwise but I think we’re on a good path to equality.
WHEEL SISTERS: In your opinion: What should be the next targets and projects to get more women into motorsport?
Aliyyah: We have just started our #EQUALITY campaign to encourage more women to follow their dreams. I believe that motorsport wouldn’t lose QUALITY by moving towards #EQUALITY.
The restoration of basic human respect while sharing our differences would make the world a better place.
WHEEL SISTERS: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Aliyyah: Racing. That’s all I can confirm at the moment. A lot is happening now so I don’t know where exactly but for sure I’ll be driving.
WHEEL SISTERS: What are your private and sporting goals in the upcoming months?
Aliyyah: I’m doing two championships with the truck this season (European and French truck racing championship) but my main goal this season is to win the junior and female category in the French championship. Recently we started driving with the Mercedes AMG GT4 so that’s going to be fun and a lot of hard work. If China opens, I want to drive in the ChinaGT series with the AMG GT3.
Later this year I will be doing my first off-road race with the CAN-AM as a part of our project DAKAR2023.