Thruxton Circuit played host to a hugely successful Dare To Be Different (D2BD) event earlier today, as over 100 schoolgirls got a first-hand experience of the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship.
The Hampshire circuit teamed up with the pioneering charity to put on an action-packed day of activities designed to inspire more girls to get into motorsport.
Pupils from local primary schools were invited to Britain’s fastest racetrack ahead of this weekend’s BTCC event, taking part in garage tours and meeting star drivers such as Jason Plato, Tom Ingram, Josh Cook and Michael Crees.
D2BD, founded by former Williams F1 test driver Susie Wolff and Motorsport UK, is an initiative designed to inspire female participation and challenge preconceptions in a traditionally male-orientated environment.
And today’s event gave attendees a chance to get up close and personal with the BTCC through exclusive access to the Thruxton paddock, as well as developing their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) skills with a number of tricky engineering challenges.
The schoolgirls then tried a spot of presenting with ITV Sport journalist and D2BD Ambassador Louise Goodman, taking the place of the host, interviewer and interview subject to get an insight into motorsport media.
The group also tested their reactions and questioned engineers about their roles within the teams before getting their hands dirty with the Pirelli Pit-Stop Challenge.
Meanwhile, the F1 in Schools Programme was present to showcase its inspirational learning resources with D2BD aiming to ‘Drive Female Talent’ and highlight potential career paths within motorsport.
The day was rounded off with a prize giving ceremony in the stunning Thruxton Centre for the fastest pit-stop team and best media presentation.
Sterling Insurance with Power Maxed Racing’s Jason Plato said: “They've had a fantastic time and hopefully it will light a candle in a few of their minds that motorsport is a great opportunity. Not just for driving the car, because there are many more things in motorsport than driving the car.
“I’ve been in this game a long time, and it was a male-dominated place when I started. It’s not now, and it’s a better paddock for it. It has changed massively, and I think the way the world is at the moment motorsport needs to be more inclusive. “It’s a great initiative and it opens their mind up to all sorts of opportunities, whether they be science-based, sports-based, nutrition… there’s a million and one different offshoots in motorsport.”
ITV Motorsport presenter and D2BD Ambassador Louise Goodman said: “What a great event! I’ve been working with Dare To Be Different since it was set up and I just think it’s a brilliant initiative. I’ve spent pretty much my entire working life in motorsport and I have seen the numbers of women involved change, but if you look at the numbers its still not gone far enough. “What Dare To Be Different is all about is working on the premise that you’ve got to see it to be it. It’s showing girls and importantly their parents and teachers that there are a whole range of career opportunities in motorsport. In F1 they don’t care if you’re male or female, they just want the best of everything. We’ve got to get more girls engaged in engineering and STEM activities with motorsport-orientated career options and subjects at the bottom level. It’s all about changing those perceptions."
Thruxton Circuit Director Bill Coombs said: “It came about after a chance conversation with Alan Gow and we were fortunate to have Friday free of any testing but still had all the teams here, so it was an ideal opportunity for Dare To Be Different to come down and take advantage of everything else that is going on, and be hosted in our Thruxton Centre. “We’re very pleased to be able to help out, and the initiative has been very well supported by all of the teams. We’ve had about 100 children here from different schools and they’re been around to all the teams, having a very full day of activity.”
The D2BD event took place on the eve of Rounds 7, 8 and 9 of the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship, which commences tomorrow at the Hampshire venue.
Tickets for the BTCC’s visit on 18/19 May can be purchased on the gate, starting at £17 for Saturday (qualifying) and £34 for Sunday (race day). Children aged 13-15 get in for £5 on Saturday and £10 on Sunday; accompanied children aged 12 and under will be admitted free of charge.