Daytona Milton Keynes karting venue staged the third headline event for the newly-established Dare To Be Different initiative, introducing 100 local schoolgirls to the highly diverse world of motor sport.
Founded by former racing driver, Susie Wolff and the Motor Sports Association (MSA) – the governing body of British Motor Sport – Dare To Be Different has been created to inspire and connect females in all aspects of the motor sport industry.
The focus at the five headline events is to educate young girls aged between eight and 11 in the various career and sporting opportunities within the motor sport arena. Campaign partner Williams F1 had staff and a show car on hand to explain the workings of a Formula One car, and all the girls were able to take part in the Pirelli Pit-Stop Challenge competition using a specially prepared frame.
“This is a fantastic initiative and we are delighted to be involved,” said Claire Williams OBE – Deputy Team Principal of the Williams Formula One Team and one of the Dare To Be Different Ambassadors.
“Motor sport offers so many career opportunities as well as the obvious participation, and as a woman working in the sport I am delighted to be able to help encourage future generations into the paddocks of the world.
“For these girls to be doing things like pit-stop challenges, testing their engineering skills as well as karting and media, they gain experience in so many diverse disciplines. It is a great snapshot of the sport, something which will hopefully leave a lasting impression so when they come to choose their subjects, they’ll think, ‘you know what, I’d love a career in motor sport’. It may propel them to do something.”
The karting aspect of the day was obviously hugely exciting for the girls, most of whom had never sat in a kart and the smiling faces at the end of each on-track session told the story. They also spent time with campaign partner, Sky F1, who provided a camera for total authenticity and ITV motor sport presenter Louise Goodman was on hand to offer invaluable tuition – an experience none of the girls will forget.
“They’ve been doing podium interviews for the television camera, and it’s great to see,” said Louise. “They have masses and masses of enthusiasm and have all put loads of effort into it. It has been great fun; I think they have all really enjoyed it. I need to watch myself – some of them will definitely be in the paddock in ten years’ time, doing it for real!
“These events are really important. I think there’s still this perception that motor sport is just for boys. I’ve spent most of my working life in motor sport and there are lots of us out there making a difference. We need to let girls and their parents know that there is a large range of career options available within motor sport – not just driving!”
To help bring the racing aspect of the day alive, the girls also met disabled driver, Nathalie McGloin and from the world of two wheels, Maria Costello, who showed them around their racing machines and explained their entry into competitive motor sport. The importance of health and fitness was similarly an important aspect for the youngsters, who were given an exercise class and a healthy eating tutorial and a chance to try some juices and healthy snacks. The Willow Water Workout, meanwhile, included a chance to test reaction skills on a BATAK board.
To complete the circle, Dare To Be Different partner, the national flagship programme STEMNET (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Network) was again present to assist with a fun and educational hovercraft-building exercise, providing an engaging and ‘hands-on’ introduction to the world of engineering.
The day was thoroughly enjoyed by all the girls, who left inspired and unafraid of ‘daring to be different.’ The next headline event will be held at Knockhill in Scotland on 25 August, while an additional event – associated with the British Grand Prix in two weeks’ time – will be announced in the next few days.
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