Imagine being born into a family of well-regarded racing drivers. Your grandfather is out blazing around in a Frazer Nash at the famed Brookland race track in England. Your father is a member of the British karting team. Even your brother Charlie is a race car driver. You’d have an important soul-searching session ahead of you. Do you have the DNA and passion to drive as well, or will you politely step aside like your sister Charlotte and let the drivers do their thing?
For Victoria Jemma Butler-Henderson of Hertfordshire, England, there was only one choice: strap on the helmet and hammer down on the accelerator.
When Did Vicki Butler-Henderson Start Driving?
Vicki’s first race was an impressive outing. At just 12 years old, Vicki made her 100cc kart racing debut, wherein she was promptly beaten by David Coulthard of Formula One fame.
At age 17, she began working as a racing instructor at the Silverstone Circuit, home of the British Grand Prix, as well as other tracks around England and Scotland. She also kicked off her journalism career as a contributor and test driver for a variety of automotive publications, including Auto Express, What Car?, and Performance Car. Under the sly pseudonym “VBH,” Vicki helped launch Max Power magazine.
She continues to race to this day, as time permits, doing very cool things, such as being the first woman to win a Maserati race, putting a Citroen 2CV through its paces in a 24-hour race, and showing what a Porsche 911 can really do in the Carrera Cup GB. Did we mention Vicki has her powerboat racing license, too? She famously raced a Honda Formula Four-Stroke boat in France in 2001…just because she could.
Vicki’s Voyage to TV Presenter
With an early resume like that, it stands to reason that Vicki Butler-Henderson would make her way to television.
In 1994, she made her first appearance on BBC 2’s Top Gear. While she initially appeared in a one-off bit in which she raced a Ford Fiesta at Brands Hatch, she made enough of an impression that, by 1997, she joined the team as a presenter. When the original format of Top Gear was cancelled in 2001, she and fellow presenters Quentin Willson, Adrian Simpson, and Tiff Needell joined Tom Ford and Jason Plato on Fifth Gear.
In addition to her Fifth Gear gig, Vicki has worked as a presenter for coverage of the British Touring Car Championships, hosted the daytime ITV show Date My Daughter, narrated the National Geographic Channel’s documentary I Didn’t Know That, starred in a number of television commercials and radio programs, and has participated on expert panels for competitions in the British motoring world.
Catching Up With Vicki Butler-Henderson
Vicki has been married to television director and producer Phil Churchward since 2007. Together, they share a daughter and a son.
She’s currently working on the Discovery/Quest Fifth Gear show, along with an ongoing gig as a presenter on The Car Years on ITV.
For a girl whose first car was an MG Metro, it’s been a long, wild journey towards becoming the first woman to drive a Renault Laguna British Touring Car, or the first journalist to try out a Pagani Zonda Roadster. But, for Vicki Butler-Henderson, it’s all just part of the territory.
She currently enjoys tooling around on her Ducati Monster 750, though she’s also been known to hit the roads with her Mk II Golf GTI and Honda S2000. Though these may seem like relatively unassuming rides, given her motorsport prowess, there’s surely a sound reason behind all of her choices. After all, this is the woman who wrote “100 Sexiest Cars.” She clearly knows what she’s talking about.