Thursday, 2 June 2011

Way Off Track

The F1 season in full swing. For those not in the know, I'm talking Formula One – fast cars and racing drivers. It may come as a surprise that I've been described as a vegetarian petrol head. A bona fide female fan, not here to admire the boys, but the fast pace and bodywork of their toys. An old shoe box filled with toy cars my introduction to the sport. A miniature Kitt, from Knight Rider, my childish prized possession. Progressing to Scaletrix not far behind, building the track, racing my Dad and counting down laps to the finish. Formula One, the family sport. As much a part of family life as the furniture we sat in, gathered round the box awaiting the start. Edging forward in our seats as the red lights go out and they pull away. Will the driver on pole succeed in taking the lead? Who will be squeezed off line? Excitement died down, race very much underway.

This thrill not left me today. Weekends planned round the F1 schedule, my calendar sown up till the last race in November. Coverage watched live no matter the wee hour. Race debated after. Motor sport not for everyone and I don't wish to lose you now, but stay - hear me out... This female Formula One fan unusual for it goes against the tide. It's Extravagant, Ungreen and Sexist. The underlined letters backwards spelling SUE, which I concord. As a fan, I'm disappointed with its lack of forward thinking – where are the women in this sport? Consigned off track, behind the scenes that's where. Females propping up departments you don't get to see. PR, admin and catering, the small cogs in big wheels of this well-oiled motor machine. Other females posed explicitly or draped seductively around – a human trophy for the drivers and male fans.

This sport no different from any other in its lack of femininity. Sebastian Vettel, the current World Champion, no ambassador for the sport. Fantastic driver, although I'm not a fan. His view of women my concern for he names his cars. This year's design we're told called “Kinky Kylie” for its tightly packed rear. His age, hormone levels and apparent immaturity no excuse for this derogatory behaviour. As a woman, am I meant to believe this attitude remains within the car while his hands are safely at the wheel? Boys will be boys you might think, but I'd rather not know. It detracts from the sport and like a recent Proctor and Gamble advert continues to portray women as just a body. No rights to expression.

Motor sport is a boys' club. This hasn't slipped my memory, but women should not be forgotten fans in the line-up. I'm not asking the sport to be feminised or dumbed down for my entertainment. This very notion appalls me – Penelope Pitstop denied access to this circuit!! I don't do frills, shoes and accessories, but I would like to see a little equality. Women not left way off track, but involved in basic F1 terminology.