Do you remember what you wanted to be when you grew up? Was it a firefighter, an astronaut, maybe a veterinarian, or a movie star? Not everyone sticks with their dreams, but then are some who set this childhood decision in stone. Christine Zonca, aka Christine GZ, decided at age nine she wanted to be a race car driver.
Today, Christine GZ works as an international off-road/rally race car driver, and it took beating the odds to reach this level. If racing were easy, everyone would do it, and it is notoriously expensive. Race car drivers are professional athletics, and like most pro-athletes, they start practicing at a very young age. Christine decided to race at age nine, but it wasn’t until age 19 that she could practice racing in a car she built herself. Christine had none of the options most racers have. No sponsors, no family support, and no money. Christine GZ’s only advantage was an unstoppable ambition and a life motto of never giving up.
Christine was born in India to Italian parents who had a passion for travel. She was born into a lifestyle in constant motion until the family settled on the photogenic Canary Islands, Spain. It was here that a nine-year-old GZ met her destiny head on. The sight of a Toyota Corolla rally car roaring through the desert backdrop of the Canary Islands caused a spark in Christine’s imagination. That spark lit a flame in Christine’s heart and has been fueling her ambition ever since. At nine years old, she had no idea what that car was but was determined to find out everything about it.
Christine’s parents were not supportive of her dream because racing is a far-fetched goal, and she was a girl. So as soon as Christine was old enough, she started working odd jobs. At the same time, she started hanging out at a garage owned by the Toyota rally car that had caught her imagination as a child. There, she learned the basics of mechanics and the fundamentals of keeping a vehicle on the road.
Soon she gathered enough cash to buy a 1988 VW Golf Mk2 and turned it into her first rally car. She built the car herself in her driveway and started entering in amateur rally events. Her first real taste of racing finally gave her the chance to scratch an itch that had been festering for years. Her first race confirmed what she always believed racing is what she wanted to do.
Christine began racing at age 19. She competed with no sponsors, no support, and little to no formal training.
Soon other cars started to enter her life. She purchased a 1989 Toyota Corolla coming full circle from the car that started it all. She even converted her streetcar, a Subaru Impreza GC8, into a race car. Christine began racing at age 19. She competed with no sponsors, no support, and little to no formal training, but you make your own path when you chase a dream. Her way was working long hours to keep her race cars running, but with little time to practice. Not enough hours in a day became her daily struggle.
In 2012, it was time for her to go to college. She left Spain to study economics in England at her parent’s request. It took just ten days for her to realize that she is not an economist. She hated it. Through the randomness of fate, she discovered that her university offered another degree that did catch her interest – Motorsport Engineering. So, without telling her parents, she switched majors and started getting a textbook education on building and managing race cars.
Christine GZ graduated in 2015 and returned home to Spain, where she became a part-owner of a garage. She bought herself a tow truck, and began a promising career as a shop owner. Most people would have settled for this, but racing never left her mind. She still wanted to race. It was more than an obsession. It was a calling.
In 2015, fate arrived with an opportunity. She was offered a chance to race for the Official Peugeot Team in Barcelona, Spain, and participate in the final stage of the National Rally in Malaga. Christine GZ would end up finishing 2nd at this event. This achievement proved to the world and confirmed her aspirations that racing is what she wanted to do with her life. After this victory, Christine upgraded from racing 2WD to 4WD and started using her Subaru Impreza to compete more often.
She was offered a chance to race for the Official Peugeot Team in Barcelona, Spain, and participate in the final stage of the National Rally in Malaga.
By 2016, the once unknown racer was now a driver-for-hire for race teams in different racing events. Each race was an opportunity to sharpen the skill while Christine worked tirelessly to gain sponsors to support her race cars. That’s when Peugeot came back with an even better opportunity. A chance to drive and be part of the first all-women rally team and compete in the WRC Rally de Catalunya. Racing in a World Rally Championship event had been a constant daydream for Christine.
A real opportunity meant investing time and money – a lot of it. Christine sold her share of the business, tow truck, race cars, and anything that wasn’t nailed down in her room to raise enough money. She packed her bag and left for Barcelona, Spain, to meet her new team. The first few nights were spent living in the garage because that was the only space she could afford on her budget.
Since those early years, racing has given Christine a crash course in business management, marketing, and public relations better than any four-year university program. Being part of the first all-female rally team created headlines. It caught the attention of an off-road racing team that needed a no-fear driver to tackle North America’s deserts.
In 2017, off-road race team Dynamic Racing reached out to Christine GZ with a contract to race for them overseas in the land of opportunity, Los Angeles. She was strictly a rally-driver, and off-road racing is a completely different motorsport, but this was a chance to continue racing. One sign on the dotted line later, she was behind the wheel of a turbocharged Can-Am UTV training in Southern California.
Flying under Dynamic Racing’s livery, Christine entered the insane world of off-road racing. Her first race was the UTV World Championship, where she took 10th place overall. A triumph for someone in a completely new racing discipline. She quickly found that off-road racing suited her flat out, damn-the-brakes, driving style.
Since joining Dynamic Racing, Christine GZ has competed in nearly every off-road race in North America. Including the world-famous Baja 1000, where she has finished 6th racing 1000 miles across the Mexican desert. Other events under her belt include the Baja 100, 500, Mint 400, and Sonora Rally. To say that Christine GZ is tough is an understatement. She finished a grueling two-day rally stage at the Sonora Rally with a fractured hand. She has raced flat out with no brakes. Her love for racing is motivated by her relentless ambition, and bulletproof will to never give up.
To say that Christine GZ is tough is an understatement. She finished a grueling two-day rally stage at the Sonora Rally with a fractured hand.
When she isn’t racing off-road in North America, she returns home to Spain, competing in rally racing events. In only six years, Christine GZ has managed to become an internationally known off-road/rally racer. In Mexico, the people hold a candle for her thanks to her charity work Mi Casa Esperanza, an organization that helps women and children escape abusive homes and offers them a safe place to stay.
Chasing a dream is never easy. Christine GZ is a woman with two homes separated by an ocean and a grueling travel schedule. She admits that racing her cost her relationships with friends and family. That alone can take a toll on a person. Following a dream is a constant struggle burdened with obstacles, defeats, many self-doubt moments, and the feeling of being dragged by one’s ambition.
Christine’s motorsport career has rocketed from age 19 with no sponsors in a home-built rally car to finishing top ten at the Baja 1000 just five years later.
Many sayings, and motivational posters, have proven that if you invest the time, focus, and hard work into a dream, you will eventually find yourself taking strides in the right direction. For Christine GZ, she is living her dream while looking at the horizon for the ultimate goal – Dakar. The Dakar Rally is the summit of her racing career. Getting there, no matter how long it takes, is a constant idea in her mind. Racing Dakar is merely a matter of time for GZ. She has the character to be one of the greats.
Christine’s motorsport career has rocketed from age 19 with no sponsors in a home built rally car to finishing top ten at the Baja 1000 just five years later. It is a noteworthy achievement by a notable individual. During this interview, we felt inspired by her story. Her life is a solid reminder that one never loses from following a dream.
You, too, can follow and be a part of Christine GZ’s endlessly entertaining racing journey on social media on Instagram as well as her racing team Dynamic Racing.