I can always thank the people I follow on twitter for actively or accidentally drawing my attention to inspirational, interesting and often hilarious stories within the motorsport world that I may have otherwise looked over. Last week was no exception to this rule and what I want to tell you about involves a number of things that are win-win for me in terms of a great story. It’s got girl power, it’s got motorbikes and it’s got an individual trying to do something truly inspirational.
I saw a tweet about a young lady named Charley Oakland who competes in the Thundersport GB series who wants to begin a petition to run an all women’s race series. I just want to touch a bit more on Charley before I go in to the inspiration behind the idea. At the tender age of 11 Charley began racing minimoto’s in the British minimoto championship, taking her first win in her 3rd ever meeting and finishing 10th in the championship after a season never outside the top 5. In 2008 Charley began racing 125’s at Darley Moor. Things have only ever been up from here with her progressing to the Aprillia Superteens from 2009-2011 with a best result of 11th place. Now competing in the Pre-National 600 class and Sportsman Elite 600 class with Thundersport GB Charley is really starting to show a high pedigree of racing with another best result of 11th.
Reading the facts, there is no denying that Charley is a lady to keep your eyes on for the future and who clearly has what it takes to elbow the boys out the way in the process. So why petition for a women’s only series when you’ve proven yourself within a mixed series? I believe that there are two main reactions to this idea, there is the “hells yeah, girl power” approach and the politically correct “why should the ladies feel as though they need their own series to succeed” approach. My personal thoughts were that it is such a fantastic way to attract young ladies and more seasoned riders to give competitive riding a go. The sport is so obviously male dominated it could appear intimidating for most (but not all) women who fancy themselves in a race. Just like the minimoto championship and the red bull rookies series, I take this as a stepping stone to finding and developing future talent.
I had to know more about the reasons behind the idea, so I got in touch with Charley to find out what her inspiration was to begin this petition:
“The motivation behind the poll for a woman’s championship came from a general idea and discussion with one of the officials from Thundersport GB, we had been discussing sponsorship and the conversation moved towards me as a female rider, and I expressed that I thought that it would have been a good idea to have a woman’s championship brought in because I felt that it possibly could of helped confidence building. Me personally in my first year I was confident until I started getting faster and as I was getting faster I felt I couldn’t do the same thing at a faster pace and this was bringing my performances down, also in my first year of Superteen’s in 2009 this was a very fast year and my confidence kept getting knocked down and further down.
The idea with the official started spinning and we was just bouncing off each other with how much this idea of a woman’s championship could materialise and become reality. I had realised that some woman could feel a slight intimidation about starting racing due to lack of confidence and not knowing how races can unfold and this could be stopping them from making that leap into racing. we like to think that the woman’s championship could used as a stepping stone into main championships and i personally feel it could make female racers faster more quickly as their confidence would build faster without having that initial intimidation that they could feel in the main championships.
We feel that if this championship was to materialise then we could bring more females into the world of racing and competing in the main championships at high levels, it also opens a window into sponsorship for the racers which would help massively on the costs of racing in today’s world.
we both hope that with the woman’s championship it will attract the woman riders into coming into the racing world on a competitive scale learn their craft, gain confidence in their abilities which will come from their racing results and progress them into making a big mark in the main championship and on the championship standings with a ready build up confidence that the woman’s championship would give them. this is more on thought that for novice woman riders to get to understand themselves under race situations without as much pressure put under them, and it has the potential to bring in more media which will in turn bring on better sponsorship deals and in turn make racing cheaper.”
Take from this what you will, however I’m surprised the idea has never been seriously considered before, it says nothing about a woman’s ability to race competitively in a mixed sex series, it is merely a female sanction to develop their craft. We have single sex schools, so why not a single sex series designed as a place to learn?
If you agree with what Charley has to say I urge you to share her story and help make her dreams a reality. I for one would be so excited to switch on the TV to watch an all women race take place.
One question however remains… does this mean they get male models to hold their umbrellas??