Naomi… from model to racing car driver!
Born in Belgium, Rwandese Mother, Raised in South Africa, Vice-Champion Karting of South Africa, Chinese Clio Cup Champion and now works racing car driver KTM X-bow GT4 for Reiter Engineering Team based in Germany… The least what we can say is that Naomi is an International girl and moving, fast moving …
Naomi Schiff is the daughter of David Schiff, an Antwerp inhabitant and the Rwandan Tutsi Umulisa N’dahimana. To escape the genocide they later fled with her parents to Congo, where Umulisa met her future husband. David was also a keendriver and amongst others won the VAS title in 1985 in the former Proformula, in the rookie single-seater class. The couple moved to Belgium where Naomi and her sister were born. Professional commitments led them to South Africa. It was here that Naomi became acquainted with karting and in her first season was club champion in the mini class. Later she also became South-African karting vice-champion following which she defended the South African colours in the World Championship up against amongst others like the Dutch girl Beitske Visser.
At the age of 18 she graduated high school, decided to stop modelling, and returned to Belgium on her own to build her career in motorsport. Father Schiff asked an old acquaintance and former rally and circuit champion Dirk Vermeersch to give her support and advice. Dirk accepted this challenge and in Naomi saw a reflection of his former self, some 40 years previously. Showing an enormous amount of ambition and perseverance, but with a limited budget. David Schiff invested in his daughter, but lost his last savings as the result of the bankruptcy (!?) of the Special Open Trophy, in which Naomi also finished second in her first car race with a Wolf GB08.
Without a budget, but with loads of ambition and several bottles of LePlan GT wines, Naomi, together with her manager Dirk Vermeersch travelled to all major motorsport events in Europe. The DTM on the Nürburgring, the GT3 at Paul Ricard and the 24 Hours of Spa. When the question was put whether she could carry out some test sessions the same counter question always reverberated … do you have any idea of the costs involved?
This up until the impossible actually came about … “One month later Hans Reiter invited me to partake in a client test session on the Austrian Red Bull Ring with a Lamborghini Gallardo GT3 developing near on 700 bhp”, Naomi recalls “I arrived at the Austrian circuit eager to drive and due to the busy schedule with the potential customers Hans allowed me to drive in their Sareni Camaro on the first day with a chance to still drive the Lamborghini on the next day, but unfortunately for me one of the potential clients had shown serious interest to buy numerous cars on condition that he could drive the Lamborghini the entire second day. With great regret Hans had to come over and break the news to us but ensured that he would re-organise another test day for us. Instead of going home I decided to stay in any case. Nearing the end of the second day a man along with his translator approached me to ask what I thought of the Reiter Gallardo FL2, I respectfully explained that Because of his “conditions” I didn’t get a chance to drive the car… Upon which, and totally unexpectedly, this Mister Hu suggested that I should replace him in his Renault Clio in the next upcoming race, a week later on the Chengdu Circuit in Inner Mongolia China.”
With a very (very) small heart, with few Euros to her name, and with only a Chinese (Google translated) text message as confirmation, Naomi presented herself at Brussels airport to find an airline ticket waiting for her in her name, direction Chengdu in Mongolia China.
“I promptly grabbed pole position and won the race, following which Mister HU once again invited me to compete in his place during the following weekend in the Ferrari Challenge on the Sepang International Circuit’, Naomi continued. “To the great dismay of all the other regular competitors I put in the third best time overall in the qualifying sessions. Mister Hu was so impressed that he promptly promised to sponsor me via his company Pude Pharma, for the entire 2014 season, in the Renault Clio Cup China Series.”
With as outcome that this fast young lady clinched the title in the Clio Cup China Series in her first full season in motorsport, producing six victories, seven pole positions and five fastest race lap times out of eight races!
Meanwhile Hans Reiter had been keeping an eye open for Naomi’s progress and in the early stages of 2015 called Naomi Schiff up once again but this time to offer her a contract as junior Reiter Engineer team driver driving their latest project the “KTM XBOW GT4”…
So far the results read one first place, one third and two fourth places in the GT4 Euro Nova series