Unless you're a Macau Grand Prix regular, Faye Ho will be a new name to you but as the newest owner of a British Superbike and road racing team, the Asian businesswoman is a force to be reckoned with.
Although Miss Ho is the grand-daughter of a now-deceased Macau billionaire, she is a successful business entrepreneur in her own right, she also lives quietly in the English countryside with her two children. On top of that, she has taken over the team formerly known as Smiths, and re-branded it FHO Racing.
Yet her name outside the paddock would barely have raised an eyebrow. Not anymore. The takeover of the Smiths BMW team has her now described as creating a new dawn for British racing, adding vibrant colour to the paddock, and by one BSN writer as ‘having a few bob to spare.’
Indeed she has but until now it was mostly in home territory. In 2010 she supported the Paul Bird team and Stuart Easton to a win at the Macau Grand Prix and became well known to other British teams and riders.
Acquiring the struggling Smiths Racing team and bringing back WSB star Xavi Fores to team up with Peter Hickman in BSB on the new BMW M1000 and promising Alex Olsen on Superstock, shows she means business. And there just may be another.
But who is Faye Ho? Well apart from being the granddaughter of Stanley Ho, the driving force behind Macau in its overtaking of Las Vegas as the world’s biggest gambling centre and being recognised for her own business successes and contribution to good causes, she now lives n England with two children, Michael (15 ) and Melanie (16) having left Macau two years ago when contracting breast cancer.
No stranger to these shores, her mother was English and her father Portuguese/Chinese. She oves motorcycle racing and, most remarkable of all in a sport which doesn’t take women seriously, she is calling the shots.
While denying that she was a control freak ‘I’m actually a very nice person but I like to look at every situation’ she said: “ t is the Smith’s team, everyone is the same. Obviously in racing everyone would like to win but at the same time you have to be realistic so it’s a very challenging project I’m going into. But I’m up for it, very excited and looking forward to 2021. Let’s hope coronavirus will stop by finding a vaccine and then we can all go back to normality.”
How did a girl like her, coming from a family with a billionaire grandfather, get interested in motorcycle racing?
“Ever since I was a little girl one of my grandfather’s sisters had a property overlooking the track at Macau on the Mountain Way and every year, for one day, my sister and I would go up there. And that’s how it started. And around 2006 or 2007 I started to get really interested in the bike racing when I was introduced by a friend of mine who was involved with it. And that’s how it’s all started.
“In 2009 I sponsored a BMW team and I think the rider was a guy called Rico and in 2010 I sponsored Birdy’s team with Stuart Easton and he won the race.I had met him before when he came to one of the parties I threw after the racing. So, I’ve known Paul for quite a long time.
“The bikes are mixed up with cars at the Grand Prix but I love the bikes. I know it is a very dangerous sport but the riders are very experienced and I get such a rush of adrenaline when I’m watching. It’s so exciting and I think it’s where I developed a passion for it.
“Macau is, of course, road racing and people see it as more dangerous than track racing but the riders know what they are getting into. I know some people say riders go for the entertainment in Macau rather than the racing but I think they go for the racing, the atmosphere there is incredible.
“It is the one place where you get car racing, bike racing or Formula 3 all together. It attracts great crowds and people go there because of it.
And yes I have been to the Isle of Man, in 2018 and ‘19. It’s certainly different, the track is obviously longer and I have to say that part of it makes me a little nervous. I had to ask the riders how they knew where the kerbs were when they were going so fast. But I do love it.”
The question of women in motorsport is clearly one which interests her as participation in both two wheels and four seems far behind other sports.
She said: “It’s true. It is a very male-dominated sport. But I do think we are starting to see some small changes and I think it is a good thing to see it.
“The more people can see women undertaking jobs like this or competing – and there are some good riders like Ana Carrasco – the more mixed genders will be acceptable. But change can take a long time.”