Founded by former F1 test-driver Susie Wolff and the Motor Sports Association (MSA) – Britain’s motor sport governing body – Dare To Be Different is a groundbreaking and high-profile programme designed to inspire, connect and celebrate women in every aspect of the sport.
Just a few weeks after visiting Daytona’s Tamworth as part of its 2017 headline events schedule, Dare To Be Different travelled to the equally popular Daytona Milton Keynes kart circuit for a special F1 day.
Almost 100 girls aged eight-to-12-years-old, all of them daughters of Mercedes, Force India, Haas,, McLaren, Mercedes, Red Bull, Renault and Williams personnel, as well as associated partners; Clifford Thames, Pirelli, STEM and Integro – got the the chance to learn just what makes this high-octane sport tick.
Today’s agenda included racing in Daytona Motorsport’s fleet of Honda GX 160cc and 200cc karts, media and interviewing skills with Sky Sports F1, an informative nutrition workshop and the Willow Water Workout. There was also the opportunity to test reaction skills on a BATAK board. In addition, the girls learnt resuscitation techniques as part of health and safety – an important skill in life, as well as in the sport.
Engineering exercises similarly formed part of the day, through the Pirelli Pit-Stop Challenge wheel change competition and a fun and educational STEMNET (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Network), where the girls leant to construct fully-functioning model cars, whilst a replica of the Williams Formula One car was unsurprisingly a popular pull and source of inspiration.
Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team Executive Director Toto Wolff was an interested observer, and ahead of the British Grand Prix – where almost 150 women will be engaged in key roles among the team of officials and volunteers – he was enthusiastic in his support for the pioneering project.
“Dare To Be Different is a very important initiative,” Wolff said. “With motor racing traditionally regarded as a male-dominated sport, a lot of young girls simply aren’t aware of the breadth of careers available to them within the industry – from driving to commentating and engineering and everything else in-between! Today was a great opportunity to open their eyes to the possibilities that exist and change this age-old perception.
“It was great to see so many F1 teams supporting Dare To Be Different, and fantastic for all these mums and dads working in the sport to be able to show their daughters what they do. I’m sure some of these girls will go home and say ‘this is what I want to do’. I actually had two girls come up to me today, with one of them saying ‘one day, I’d like to drive for you’ and the other saying ‘one day, I’d like to interview you’ – so I think we can say the campaign is on the right track…”
The Dare To Be Different campaign is the brain-child of former Formula One test driver Susie Wolff, who launched the nationwide scheme at the Autosport Show in January 2016. Since then seven ‘headline’ events have followed across the UK involving over 70 schools and nearly 1000 students.
Known as D2BD, this non-profit organisation with charitable status aims to inspire, connect and celebrate women in motorsport – the project strives to cover all aspects on and off the track as well as perceived male-dominated industries. D2BD is about inspiring women of all ages and backgrounds to break the mould and shatter perceptions. This year’s D2BD campaign features eight headline events in total and a number of appearances at high profile motorsport events across the country and aims to reach a huge number of girls and women who would not normally have been exposed to the world of motorsport.
Dare To Be Different founder, Susie Wolff says, “It’s fantastic to have such a successful headline event at Daytona’s superb Milton Keynes circuit – and today is great way to give the daughters of F1 personnel, a hands-on insight into their parents’ professional ‘world’. Daytona Motorsport always provides such great facilities for our events and its wonderful for the girls to have the experience of driving the karts – for many this will be their very first time!
“The whole idea of Dare To Be Different is about pushing girls out of their comfort zones and encouraging them to try something new. Ultimately, we want to see more girls coming into motor sport at grass roots level and looking at the career opportunities within the sport.
“The exciting Dare To Be Different journey continues – and we’re really looking forward to working with Daytona Motorsport later this year at their Manchester venue.”