WOMAN CRUSH WEDNESDAYS: SOPHIE KUMPEN, More than Max’s mum
Discussions about Max Verstappen have been a trending topic for a while, and rightfully so! After six years in the sport, the young Dutchman finally seems to be within reach of a World Championship. Most people say that the talent and passion for racing are in his blood, for his Father Jos Verstappen was Formula One driver.
Written by Tanishka Vashee, Edited by Bruna Brito
Which is true, racing is in his blood! Not only Jos but his mother, Sophie Kumpen too had a successful racing career.
Sophie hails from Hasselt, Belgium. She grew up watching her uncle Paul Kumpen compete in Rally. In an interview, she talked about all the sports and hobbies she tried out, including ballet but was instantly ruled out as being too wild for the graceful discipline. Kumpen discovered her talent and passion in karting at the age of 10, she said that the speed brought her a lot of thrill.
In 1991, at the age of 16, she was considered a great talent, finishing 9th in the Formula A World Championship. The following year, she raced in the Karting World Championship; she finished 26th and then 17th in 1994.
In 1995, she won a race for the Andrea Margutti Trophy, where she beat former F1 drivers like Jarno Trulli and Allen Simonsen. This was also the year Jenson Button became her teammate! The two of them were really competitive, often racing against each other.
He wasn’t the only renowned name in today’s paddock she has competed against, Christian Horner has raced her in the 1989 junior karting world championship. Both Horner and Button speak very highly of her and believe she possessed great talent.
While her success in Karting proved her mettle, life had other plans for her. Sophie married Jos Verstappen in 1996, the following year the couple welcomed their first child Max and then the next year Victoria.
Sophie was testing cars and Jos was racing in F1, juggling racing, looking after the children, and supporting Jos in his career became a struggle. She ended her racing career to raise her children and support Jos.
Sophie has spoken about her desire to race in F1 and how it did not happen, she had to give up on her dream. However, seeing her son do what she dreamed of doing and making his own mark in the sport brings her a lot of joy.
Women in motorsport have been garnering a lot of attention in recent years, the popularity of motorsports involving women too is headed towards an all-time high. It is important we celebrate the careers of women like Sophie, who have been challenging the norm for more opportunities for women in the world of racing.