Female Leader, Lara Wilde, Owner Wilde Drive

Lara Wilde Owner Wilde Drive has made cars her life. She is an authority on safe, simple and stylish adventures on the road and has circumnavigated Australia and driven coast to coast in America multiple times. Lara is also an accomplished and entertaining keynote speaker, MC and facilitator.

Her passion for cars transcends the ordinary, but  she really connects with everyday women who love their cars. Most she says have a story, and she has heard many in her travels. Lara blogs and writes content for publications about her automotive adventures, and has organised car events, promoted race teams and race tracks, bought and sold new cars and used cars, restored cars and won car shows with her own cars. Her second successful business Wilde Garage sells vehicle accessories and specialty performance parts online.

Claiming the moniker of the Nigella Lawson of the car scene, Lara seeks to redefine and shape a new category in the automotive industry, for women who love cars, and the freedom, adventure and independence they provide.

What inspired your passion for cars and why do you believe everyone should love their car?

For many people a car is simply to get from A to B. Growing up on a farm nearly an hour from town, a car for me was far more than to get from A to B. A car was my freedom, my independence and my power. If you have a car you have choices. Need food, drive to a shop and get some. Miss your friends, drive over and say hello. Bored at home, drive out on an adventure. You have so many choices if you have a car.

I love cars and driving because they make me feel independent, powerful and capable of taking on the world. Everyone should have the resources and information they need to feel that sense of exhilaration you get when you have a car you love and you feel confident with.

Why did you start Wilde Drive and who are your audience?

The automotive industry can be a judgemental place. If you are a man you are expected to know about cars. If you ask a simple question you can feel like a fool. How do you know what you need to know? Who can you ask for simple advice without any judgement?

Women in the world of cars seem to come in just a few flavours. The bikini clad car wash grid girl models. The pretty in pink, cartoon characters and fluffy stuffed toys girls. The girls who are just as good as men and dress like men and race against the boys. The niche girls who don the attire of rockabilly or pinups. Who are the role models for women who want to be fully self expressed as individuals? Who do mature, feminine, educated, professional, independent women look to for stylish advice?

In the culinary world television has seen 3 breeds of celebrity chef. We had Gordon Ramsay yelling and screaming and acting like a galah. We had a long line of bland personalities perfecting soufflés. Then along came Nigella Lawson. Nigella showed us how to make avocado on toast with simple passion. 

In the car world television has seen 2 breeds of celebrity automotive journalist. We had Jeremy Clarkson yelling and screaming and acting like a galah. We had a long line of bland personalities perfecting how to test drive a super car. Then along came me, Lara Wilde. I’ll show you the avocado on toast of car advice with simple passion.

As a driver who gets behind the wheel every day I don’t want to know how to rebuild an engine.

I don’t want to learn how to apply extreme modifications to my car. I don’t want to race cars. I don’t want to do burnouts. I don’t aspire to own a Lamborghini. I don’t see the need to learn the finer points of test driving a million-dollar car I will probably never see in the flesh.

I protect my financial investments. I maintain my cars so they’re safe. I express myself through my cars. I am proud of my cars. I feel confident that my cars can take me on adventures and bring me home again. I know how to take care of my cars. I love my cars.

If you identify as someone who “isn’t really into cars” or if you think a car is just to get from A to B you are in my audience. If you want to feel confident, if you hate feeling silly for asking a question about your car, if you want to look after your car and maintain your financial investment you are in my audience. 

Even if you don’t own a car but you want to know enough to know if your Uber ride is safe you are in my audience. Cars play a role in our lives every day. We might drive a car, be driven in a car or cross a road filled with cars. My audience wants to learn the basics of cars so they feel safe and confident and ready to take on an adventure if the urge takes them.

You’ve captured the attention of both women and men who are car enthusiasts. What are the questions you get asked most frequently?

Most conversations I have with people about cars begin with them telling me they really aren’t “that into cars”. Then as we discuss cars and what they mean to them, almost always a story comes about of a special car, a moment on a road trip or an intense emotion they have had about their car. They felt silly or scared or proud or frustrated. Their car is a significant financial investment and plays a key role in many parts of their life. They want to feel confident and safe. 

Before too long the discussion becomes passionate and they ask me about the most basic tips for their car. How do they protect and maintain their financial investment? How do they stay safe? What is the best way to wash their car? What is the best fuel to use? How do you look after your tyres? Simple questions to feel safe and stylish on the road.

Tell us about some of the most interesting or unexpected stories people have shared with you about their car.

The stories that always catch me off guard are when people tell me the thing they love most about their car. In the automotive industry it is very easy to become a car snob and I often fall into the trap. When someone tells me they love cars and they have a really special car that they adore and worship I get excited to hear what it is. 

When they reveal that it is something like a stock standard Toyota Camry I am often surprised. Cars come in all shapes and sizes and people can love them for the simplest of reasons. I love hearing those reasons and then making sure that everyone can find something to love about their car no matter what they drive.

What has been your greatest challenge?

Self-doubt. I am not a mechanic or a race car driver so I am always asking myself “who am I to say?”

I am not teaching you how to build a car or race a car. I am offering safe, simple, stylish advice so that you feel confident to head out for an adventure on the road and fall in love with your car. Constantly I have to remind myself that that is why I have something to offer. I feel confident on the road and I love my cars. I relish the opportunity to share my love of cars and my adventures on the road so that other people can find the same joy and independence that I have found.

What are you most proud of? 

Every time I successfully fix something on my car I am completely chuffed with myself. It can be something as simple as adding a new accessory or modifying something to suit me better. This week I tinkered with my boat motor until she started and purred like a kitten. I was tickled pink and considered myself a super mechanic. I didn’t do anything special but I was very proud.

What’s one piece of advice for future female leaders?

It often feels as though everything is a competition. We have to better than men, better than other women and better than our predecessors. Often we get hung up on the more, more, more. I realised recently that I don’t want the bigger house and the shinier things. Now I have defined success via my terms it is about focussing on that and not keeping score against the magical list of things we are “supposed” to get.

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Posted by Jade Collins - Femeconomy Director

Jade Collins has 20 years’ global experience in corporate executive Human Resources and management consulting roles in the Mining, Energy and Aerospace industries, leading large scale, complex multi-million-dollar change management programs. Jade finds the combination of her HR, Psychology and MBA qualifications and her leadership experience is invaluable for increasing gender equality in leadership across industries. Jade was a member of the Queensland Government's Strategic Advisory Group for the Toward Gender Parity: Women on Boards Initiative and the 2019 CQU Alumni of the Year for Social Impact for her work with Femeconomy.