Rally car record holder
Camaraderie, adrenaline and action: those are the three things that attracted Nathalie Richard (BComm’97) to rally car racing. That was in 1999, when she attended a race her brother was driving in. The sport, where a driver and co-driver race specially built road-legal cars on public and private roads in a point-to-point race, has been her passion ever since. First, she signed on to manage her brother’s team and soon she was subbing in as co-driver, the one who, she says, “controls the driver.”
A child of immigrants, Richard credits sports—she played soccer and basketball for King’s—for instilling in her the confidence and assertiveness that drove her to become a 10-time North American Rally Champion and win two Triple Crowns (championships in Canada, the U.S. and North America in the same year), the only person to have done so. Co-driving requires incredible planning skills, attention to detail, foresight, navigation and instantaneous decision-making as cars race hundreds of kilometres of gravel forested roads, jumps and ditches, often in snow or rain.
“If I instruct him [the driver] late, we crash. If I’m early, he can’t retain it. Driver and co-driver have to work together crazy well,” says Richard.
Without checking her time, Richard (“kind of a perfectionist”) always knew at the end of a racing stage if they were bang on or had a tiny error. She says she was rarely afraid; there was no time for that.
When Richard moved to Quebec in 2004, she worked part-time in financial planning and still raced. When she moved back to Halifax in 2010, racing became top priority, but she also did financial planning, substituted as a French-immersion teacher and worked as a translator.
She retired (mostly) from racing in 2015. “My brother had had a brain injury. I finished out my year. My parents wanted me to stop. My dad wanted to sell his business. I had achieved everything I could in North America. I’d finished a super-busy season. And my neck was bad.”
Since then, she’s co-driven a few races for the love of it. She has been described as the best woman in the sport, but she doesn’t see it that way: No man has done what she has either.
After a career that took her worldwide, she is a Certified Financial Planner contentedly in the process of buying Remy Richard Securities Inc., a member of Peak Investment Services, from her father, and advising clients on prudent investments. The adrenaline charge of her new role as chief operating officer isn’t quite the same as racing, but she uses the same skills. “Organization is the key. If you can’t manage your time effectively everything else is affected. I’m very Type A, hyper organized. I’m still managing a team toward a goal. And I love being my own boss.”