Racing Politics for Women?

Written by Cheryl Tay on . Posted in Cheryl Tay Blog | Blog Post of Cheryl Tay

In yet another Opinion piece, Cheryl Tay talks about how women will find it difficult to survive in the racing world.. not because they can’t get fast enough on the track, but because their innate emotional selves will not handle the off-track issues as well as the men. Again, this is entirely one-sided and is to be treated with light-hearted humour.


There are few sports where both genders compete equally and directly against each other – motor racing is a fine example. Racing requires energy, commitment, courage and tons of money, but these are issues faced by both men and women alike.


It is tougher for the women as they break down barriers and stereotypes to make the transition from spectator to racer. Women may not succeed in motorsports as well as men do, not just because of their physique, but because women are such emotional creatures.


Putting in double, triple, quadruple the effort to train and improve physical and mental strength to match the men in racing is not difficult – it just takes commitment and work. But the emotional side of women will be the key to suicide in motorsports.


Why? Simply because women may not be able to handle the off-track stress and politics.


Just look at Formula 1 and the amount of backstabbing, scandals and ugly stories that happen. It’s all about money, greed, fame and envy – like Wall Street. Then again, you need not have to look too far. Within the local automotive industry or even within a typical car club, there are already such stuff occurring – just to a much smaller extent.


Formula 1 has seen five women compete but not to much success. More and more women have taken their place behind the wheel in professional motorsports. Danica Patrick, top female racer in NASCAR, has pretty much paved a path for aspiring female hopefuls to follow.


She was supposed to test with Honda in 2008 before they withdrew from F1 and then in 2009 she was linked to the US F1 team that never got its car to the starting grid last year.


With US slated to return to the F1 calendar in 2012, Bernie Ecclestone is very keen on having an American driver on the grid (F1 could do with the ratings of IndyCar and NASCAR) and this might be Patrick’s chance.


However, is Patrick able to make the cut and then survive in the cut-throat world of F1? I have my doubts honestly.


I was born, bred and raised in Singapore where there are no race circuits and the only decent motorsports facility we have is this newly-opened go-kart track called Kartright Speedway which preaches karting right and not just kart anyhow. To think we are one of eight Formula One Asian race venues this year and even hosted the world’s first ever F1 night race in 2008.


Then again, it doesn’t matter if we are watching from this side of the world and that the motorsports culture in Europe is a lot more established compared to Asia’s, with a richer and longer history. The structure, facilities, interest and opportunities are definitely more advanced but the issues are no different.


Being female does stand out and attract a lot of interest, giving great publicity. It might be an advantage for sponsorship but it can also be a distraction as it creates more attention and hence more pressure to perform.


It’s a tough place to be in for women – that’s for wearing a skirt where it shouldn’t exist.

Cheryl Tay

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Singapore’s only female full-time motoring and motorsports photojournalist. Independent automotive consultant and prominent local motorsports personality Cheryl Tay is uniquely passionate about all things cars and motorsports. She also has a strong passion to share her interest and knowledge, hence having a dream to become the ‘Oprah Winfrey of cars and motorsports’ and create a multimedia platform for her sharing. - A female in a male-dominated world, Cheryl Tay is Singapore’s only female full-time motoring journalist and motorsports blogger and she regularly writes for prominent titles in Singapore, Asia and internationally. (See full list of titles that Cheryl Tay writes for here.)

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