Most will recognise ‘Orsi’, as she prefers to be known, as General Manager of Hungary’s Nyirád Racing Center, which is gearing up to stage the 2023 FIA European Rallycross Championship curtain-raiser on 29-30 April – but her history and participation in motorsport stretches back much further than that...
“I was born into this sport,” she explains. “My dad was a rally co-driver and later organised race events. During childhood, my brother and I didn’t play in the garden or playground. We went to the rally stages with our father to build tyre barriers.”
Orsi’s involvement in rallycross began when she was appointed Team Manager for Kárai Motorsport Sportegyesület, whose driver – three-time European Autocross Champion Tamás Kárai – made his Euro RX debut in 2015. She describes the switch as a significant step-up from which ‘there was no going back’.
The skills and expertise she gained inside the team, she says, have been essential in her current position, in which she led the negotiations that ultimately brought Nyirád back onto the Euro RX calendar last year, following an absence of almost a decade.
The race weekend at the ‘Red Cauldron’ – as it is affectionately nicknamed for the distinctive colour of its bauxite-based gravel sections – proved to be a tremendous success, and Orsi is already hard at work to ensure the 2023 edition is even better.
“It's a big advantage for me to know how a rallycross team works,” she reveals. “I did the practical things at Kárai Motorsport, and I have transferred a lot of that knowledge into event organisation. Things might seem small, but the details are important for the big picture.
“We woke the ‘Red Cauldron’ up from a deep sleep last year. The team took a big breath and did it together. I use the expression that we build a Christmas tree from a normal tree. Our goal was to organise a competition with a good atmosphere and based on the feedback we received afterwards, it worked. Everyone gave their best and I can’t be thankful enough for that.
“For 2023, we are drawing upon everything we learned last year, with several key focus points – preparing a completely new grandstand, developing several parts of the circuit and trying to attract families by creating a playground for children.”
When Orsi says ‘we’, she is referring to the management team around her at Nyirád, which features women in many key roles. Ági Erdélyi and Móni Kárai are responsible for accreditation and ticket sales – ‘the bastions of the track’, as she calls them – while Márti Zubai acts as Competitors’ Liaison Officer and Ivette Bozsó holds the position of Deputy Clerk of the Course.
Jenny Kárai runs the Race Office, Andika Gárdián takes care of the circuit’s photography requirements and ‘shining star’ Bogi Budai – a former organiser of the event during Nyirád’s previous stint in Euro RX – returned to lend the benefit of her experience in the build-up to and running of the 2022 race weekend and served as an official steward.
Notably, the track’s starting grid is unique in the championship in using only female marshals, spearheaded by the formidable Ági Kozma, who has twice been voted ‘Marshal of the Year’ by the Hungarian ASN. Orsi makes it very clear that she could not do any of the work without them all.
“The role of women in rallycross is indispensable,” she asserts. “We see certain things with completely different eyes. We can pay attention to several things at the same time and consider a more complex view of everything. At our events, every important position is filled by a female colleague. I know motorsport is predominantly a masculine sport, but men also need women to succeed. There is no success without respect.”