In 2019, a new ground-breaking open-wheel series is set to take off titled the W Series, which is set to allow 20 female drivers to equally compete against each other in equally prepared cars with no cost to them. Their idea is if you get females behind the wheel of higher-level open-wheel cars, one of them may graduate and catch the attention to one race in Formula 1.
The announcement has brought forth many different opinions from males and females alike, with some supporting while others feel it’s a step back in time. Over the past year, I have had the opportunity to speak with ladies at different levels of motorsports, and here are their takes on the situation.
Pippa Mann, Verizon IndyCar Series
As the initial time rumblings began, Pippa Mann released a blog stating her opinion very openly – http://www.pippamann.com/2017/06/19/the-handmaids-racing-series/. The question below followed 10 months later as part of another interview.
POW: You started the hashtag #WeRaceAsEquals last season and it took off with the amount of responses. How surprised were you?
PIPPA: I think the response has been fantastic, and so many female racers have made the tag their own. Being female does not make us less, it does not make us more. I like to tell people that being a female driver is like being a British driver, or an American driver. None of these things affect our ability behind the wheel, but it might affect how we were raised, who is going to cheer for us, or against us, and yet if you use the word “ female” in front of the word “driver” it still starts a conversation that we wouldn’t need to have if you simply described me by my nationality instead. That’s one of the reasons why I don’t shy away from the term “female racer” necessarily, because the only way I can do my small part to help this change is to be visible, and to be heard.
Julia Landauer – NASCAR Pinty’s Series Competitor
So on the one hand, anything that gives woman the opportunity to get into good equipment, that’s good. I think that’s important. On the flip side, I love racing is co-ed and when you win in racing, you get to prove you’re the best – not the best female, not the best male, but the best. I’m a little worried that making a female only series, it might hurt the overall progress of seeing more woman in co-ed racing. It might not, it might help and if it does help woman get into Formula 1 – which we haven’t had a woman full-time in a long time, that’s great. I’m just a little worried that it won’t.
Kendra Adams – Sunset Speedway Late Model
“Honestly, in my opinion, I think this is silly in a sport where men and woman can actually compete 100% equally. It does have something to do with your physical abilities, but not like football or hockey does. Racing is definitely an equal playing field for men and woman, and to want to split that just because of gender is silly, and almost offensive. I think that is saying woman aren’t as good as men are, which is not true. Woman are just as good, if not better, just at racing than men are. I think that series is just setting back what all these woman have done in the past years to come forward and get the same opportunity, and be in the same position. They’re just taking that away, and totally diminishing what has taken so long to build.
“A lot of people have looked down on me more for my age than because of I am a girl. That’s what I found, and I think there’s a lot of people that look down on a lot of the other young drivers my age or even younger, because of age. A lot of the people that I race against that are my age are boys, and people still look down on them for their age.
“I don’t have the same results on track as a lot of people do, but that’s not because I am a girl; it’s just because of where my skill level is. The sponsors that do believe in me – it’s not based on the track performance, but what I can bring to them from a marketing perspective, which is why I’ll have that over a boy. I think I am a little more outgoing and to get sponsors because I am not on the top of the roster, I do need to have a separate area that I can make up for that. They want to sponsor winning cars, and they want to sponsor people that will give back to their business. So if I’m not winning, then I need to give something back and that’s where I pick up my extra ability for sponsors.”
Samantha Shaw – Sunset Speedway Mini Stock Competitor
“From what I’ve seen so far, I totally think it goes against what women in racing want. We want to be treated as equals. For me, after 10 years in my car, I’m no longer “the girl”. I’m just me; I’m Sam, and I’ve worked damn hard to not just be the girl- I want to be the threat to win.
“The best part about racing is that once you’re in your car, it’s all up to the driver. Men don’t have any advantages. This series really takes that away, and makes women in the sport seem like a second tier.”
Randi Sequin – Full Throttle Motor Speedway Mini Stock
“I don’t like the idea of it. Being a female in a male driven sport, I’ve come a long way and fought a lot to get the respect from my fellow drivers. I feel a female driven only series is just going to set us all back. It’s going to say that we’re not as good as you guys or as good as you.”
Going back to when she started, she said the common comment was that “woman can’t drive,” which would result in them “treating you different (on track) because they know you’re a girl.” Seguin said since her beginnings in racing dating back to Barrie Speedway, she’s pushed hard and done “everything that I could to make them treat me as one of them.”
Aundrea Lusk – Sunset Speedway Bone Stock Competitor
“I think a big part of the excitement and accomplishments of being a female racer, is racing against a group of guys. I think racing has become more open for women over the years and the W series will take away from normalizing women in motorsports.”
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