• Natalie Weston has been with the AMG Advanced Driving Academy for over 10 years.
• She is one of the most skilful drivers in South Africa.
• Weston is a familiar face at events hosted by Mercedes-Benz South Africa
• For more motoring stories, go to www.Wheels24.co.za
If you were ever lucky enough to attend a Mercedes-Benz South Africa event, you probably made acquaintances with Natalie Weston.
Natalie has been around for little over a decade and has grown in leaps and bounds both at Mercedes-Benz and the AMG Advanced Driving Academy (ADA).
Yip, that's right. Natalie is one of the fastest, and most skilled, drivers in the country and is a trained hand behind the wheel of some of the world's wildest and fastest machines. Ten years ago, her brother, Clint, roped in her services to join him at ADA, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Natalie trains a variety of drivers with different skill levels in all aspects of advanced driving.
Natalie Weston (Supplied by Natalie Weston)
That's how you do it
Discussing the intricacies of what her job entails, Natalie explains that her portfolio is not restricted to just the track. She is the key liaison between Mercedes-Benz and the media and is responsible for ensuring that the fleet is properly managed.
She says that on a typical day, it's not uncommon to juggle everything at once: "On any given day, I'm either managing our MB Media Fleet, conducting advanced driving instruction for ADA, or doing both at the same time. But I always give the MB and ADA brands the best I can."
But her duties also extend to beyond the track and office. She also assists in precision driving for Mercedes-Benz commercials and promotions, new vehicle launches, and assisting at events like the Festival of Motoring.
Natalie Weston with the Top Gear team a few years ago. (Supplied by Natalie Weston)
Owning your space
A decade may have gone by in the blink of an eye, but Natalie is quick to point out that it did not come without challenges. The most prominent being to prove yourself as a female driver, in every sense of the word. She says: "It's definitely a known fact that our lady instructors have the hardest job here, as we work so much harder to prove ourselves being 'women drivers'."
It is in such times that Natalie, and many of her female colleagues, have to bite the bit, but the snide remarks and overconfidence quickly subside after the first exercise. ADA provides a service that aims to equip every customer with sharpened skills behind the wheel. And typically, once customers realise that it isn't an ego trip, they become open to learning.
"Driver training is our speciality," Natalie says. "We transfer our skill in a way for customers to recognise their own driving expectations. Once we've helped them enhance their driving skills, we send them away as safer, more capable drivers on our dangerous roads. What I aim to achieve with my customers is to become safer, more skilled drivers that one day it can save their lives!"
She concludes: "There's a perception that this is a man's world. Generally, on our courses, the ladies are better drivers than the guys, so don't let the negative perception of being a 'woman driver' stop you from excelling in your driving abilities! Ladies just lack the confidence. But once you overcome your fear and stop limiting yourself, us ladies are unstoppable. Chicks RULE, always remember that."
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Natalie Weston with members of the AMG ADA team. (Supplied by Natalie Weston)