Since the W Series was launched, mixed opinions have been floating about. Some said it was a sad day for motorsport, whilst others jumped at the chance of getting to go racing again. But, to put it quite simply, the W Series has been much, much more than just a new motorsport formula.
This is a different post to our usual style – this isn’t an interview – instead, it’s saying thank you to all of the boys and girls at the W Series who have given drivers, fans and an even further reach of people a chance to smile, succeed, create memories, and try something new.
Matt Bishop, head of communication for the series, invited me – Helena – down to the season finale at Brands Hatch, Kent. I gladly accepted the invite and it was a day were endless fond moments were formed and I shall cherish them for a long time to come.
At the beginning, it was easy to dismiss the idea of a female-only series. Why on earth would it be needed? Can’t they just compete in the series already available? Well, quite frankly, the answer to both of those points is yes. But, in order for women to be able to have the budget to go racing in the first place, a foundation and a platform such as the W Series was needed. Of course, an academy could’ve been set up where girls were supported from karting to the higher formulas and there’s been numerous other alternative ideas. But, essentially, a movement was founded which has given 20 formidable ladies the opportunity to do what they love – compete on a world stage.
The 2019 field for the W Series consisted of a plumber, a baker, university students and those who had very nearly given up on achieving their dreams. Those ladies had always been talented, just they’d never been able to showcase their immense ability due to lack of funding. Alice Powell is a prime example and, after winning the season finale, she will be racing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Not only is it richly deserved, but without the W Series, she wouldn’t be heading to America to compete on an international level.
There was a standout moment for me on Sunday and that was before the race. I’d spoken to many of the women throughout the day and I’ve been following their journeys throughout the year – some I’ve been following for a lot longer. 20 women were in front of a huge crowd that had gathered and they were about to go racing…for free. They were there on merit and talent and they had girls and boys and every age under the sun cheering them on. It was a moment of unity and that was why the W Series was created.
It’s been clever in every single aspect – from marketing and PR to sponsorship and its funding. Everyone has been talking about it – whether you agree with the ideas or not, it has been discussed. This is just a part of the reason why it’s such an immensely powerful tool. And then you have the racers who are some of the kindest people you could ever meet. All their lives they’ve just wanted to race. Some have been away and had children, others had returned to full time work with racing just a dream. The W Series allowed their hopes to become a reality while getting millions of outsiders involved.
It’s impossible to deny that the W Series has been an unprecedented success. Households round the globe have been talking about a group of women racing. It’s been on the television, in magazines, and talked about on every media form imaginable. While it’s been an omnipotent marketing tool, the fundamental element of the W Series has remained apparent – it’s created fair and equal opportunities. Now, at the end of the inaugural season, we have a well-deserved champion in the form of Jamie Chadwick. In addition, we have another 19 women which have all displayed skill, nerve and a raw ability to compete.
It’s been an amazing journey and I for one can’t wait to do it all over again. But, for now, we have 20 women who have bright futures ahead of them and I’m extremely excited to see their careers evolve.
On a more personal note it’s given me my mojo back. Being a woman in a male-dominated industry means you have to have tough skin. Yet, the W Series came along and there was this rush of excitement. There was something new, unique and I wanted to be a part of it. So, I am incredilby thankful for the opportunties it’s given me. I have a spark that’s been ignited because I’ve watched 20 women fight for their dreams and I’ve met friends for life!