Miami GP: W Series CEO Catherine Bond Muir taking America by storm
Since its inception, W Series has grown from an idea Catherine Bond Muir had whilst on maternity leave to racing at the inaugural Miami Grand Prix.
Catherine, the CEO, has been at the helm of the all-female championship every step of the way and witnessed W Series flourish and grow.
With all of its publicity and success, it’s perhaps easy to forget that the series is still a start-up. This, after all, is only its third season of racing.
With such a big media spotlight on W Series to nurture female single-seater talent, Catherine is aware that global growth is needed in order to fulfil and exceed those expectations.
This weekend’s season-opener in Florida is W Series’ second race in the USA after the 2021 double-header finale in Austin. The build up to the weekend has been immense, with the drivers appearing at the launch-event and participating in a training session with the Miami Dolphins.
To add to that, a new broadcast deal with giants ESPN was also announced for the American audience.
“The Americans really love the W series story,” Catherine tells Females in Motorsport. “It’s about promoting women in motorsport, and they are years ahead of people in promoting women in sports and going for equality, the American soccer team has been very successful in striving for equality and going to the courts to back that.”
To accelerate growth in the country, Catherine is going to be spending an increased amount of time across the pond.
“We’ve got the Jenner team, and that will create a lot of publicity in itself in America and hopefully we can start the season of with a bang on Miami,” she says. “This is going to be the best and most intense race we’ve been to - we’ve been doing so much activation in the build up and never had this much incoming interest in any race before.”
Earlier this year it was announced that Olympic gold medalist and TV personality Caitlyn Jenner would run a W Series team, propelling the series into the American news,
Someone I know in States introduced us [Catherine and Caitlyn],” she says. “She has said that she is offered 100s and 100s of different opportunities and the reason this stuck out to her is two reasons.
“One is motorsport - she’s an absolute petrol head and the other is promoting women, specifically promoting women in sport.
“Given her background, her experience in sport previously was she was one of the best athletes in sport at one point and hopefully she can come here and help her team members with her expertise of what it really takes to win.”
One of the moments of a meeting that really stood out to Catherine was when she asked Caitlyn what would have happened if she didn’t win the gold medal. Her answer? Caitlyn had said she’d never even considered it.
“It’s that psychology, that power of winning, that going at the top level, singularly focused, not getting involved in anything else, it’s a single focus,” she says. “If she can bring that professionalisation and her stories of what it takes to be a winner to our drivers then that is massively advantageous to our drivers.”
Whilst America is the focus, it isn’t the only key market. W Series, for the first time, will race in Asia at the Japanese Grand Prix later this year.
“Asia is such a big area, we’re starting in Japan, but we have lots of fans based in Indonesia,” Catherine says. “Going forward, we need to focus that as a market and understand the disparity of the market and how to attract different parts of the market.”
With the rapid growth of the series and its fanbase, there are big hopes for it over the next five years and Catherine is optimistic but not disillusioned about the hurdles that W Series will undoubtedly face.
“We have given a greater higher profile to a number of drivers and that is demonstrated in the extra things they have been doing, and they say themselves that those extra driving activities or relationships formed wouldn’t have happened if W series wasn’t in existence,” Catherine says.
Earlier this week 2021 vice-champion Alice Powell announced her role as the Talent Identification and Development Mentor for the Alpine Academy - of which her protege Abbi Pulling was recently confirmed as being a member of.
“I want to see W Series as being part of a movement to promote women in all aspects of motorsports - we need more female mechanics and we’re getting much more female engineers,” she says. “Those programmes require years of training so we have to get women in right at the beginning, so they can be proficiently senior to run cars in W Series.
“I want more women involved in all aspects of motorsport.”
The first race of W Series’ 2022 season kicks off today with Race 1 at 19:10 BST
Photos are courtesy of W Series.