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Pride on the Track: Celebrating LGBTQ+ Drivers in Motorsport - News

Pride month in June was first established in 1970 in the United States, as a result of the Stonewall riots and is celebrated worldwide. As we are in the 54th year of its celebrations, we thought it only apt to take a deep dive into some of the pioneering LGBTQ+ motorsports drivers and initiatives currently trying to change the industry for the better.

Traditionally, the motorsports world has been very male dominated. Although female representation may be changing, a lot more improvements need to be made to support those from the LGBTQ+ community within the sport.

The F1 academy, established by Susie Wolff in 2023, who was also the first woman to take part in the F1 Race weekend in 22 years, is firmly committed to increasing representation across the sport, but particularly among women and those from the LGBTQ+ community. This training academy aims to increase the visibility of those underrepresented in the sport through training initiatives. Fundamentally, the F1 Academy believes that gender should have no bearing on your skill behind the wheel.

Therefore, change within the motorsports world is on the horizon, but there are significant figures within thew industry who are also leading the way. Without further or do, let's take a look at a handful of the incredible drivers leading the charge for greater LGBTQ+ inclusivity within the motorsports world.

  • Charlie Martin

Born in 1981, Charlie Martin is a current British racing car driver and transgender rights activist. Competing in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo, the Michelin Le Mans Cup, German VLN Championship, Britcar Endurance Championship and Ginetta GT5 Challenge, Charlie has built up a significant reputation within the industry and used her status to raise awareness of the LGBTQ+ community and transgender rights.

In 2018, during the Ginetta GT5 Challenge at the British GT round at Silverstone, she led a campaign for drivers to run with rainbow stickers on their cars to mark Pride Month. She is also Stonewall’s first Sports Ambassador and is aiming to make LGBTQ+ history as the first ever transgender racing driver to race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

She is also an ambassador for Racing Pride - an LGBTQ+ movement working within the racing industry to champion inclusivity. In both her role as a racing driver and ambassador for the LGBTQ+ community, she is a leading example of the future of motorsports and what inclusivity means and should look like.

Speaking in 2019, for Jalopnik.com she said: “I hope to show that a career in motorsport is possible regardless of gender identity. There is a place for everyone in the sporting community and that is as much the case in the pit lane as on the golf course or on a football field.”

Just a few days ago, Charlie finished second in class in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo race supporting the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

  • Danny Watts

Despite retiring in 2017, Danny Watts started racing in 1993 in the karting world with single seater racing in the UK Formula First Championship with a whopping 12 wins. In 2003, he competed in the British F3 Championship, which was an international motor racing series that took place in the UK and Europe. In 2004, he became the first driver in 11 years to win a round whilst not driving a car from the Dallara company.

He continued to compete in 2007 in the Le Mans Series in a Panoz Esperante GT-2M and into 2012 at the World Endurance Championship at Silverstone, where he finished in 4th place. After a long career, he retired in 2016 and came out as gay at 37 years old, and has been an advocate of supporting LGBTQ+ rights within the industry ever since.

During his career, he felt he had to hide his sexuality because of the nature of it being a very masculine heavy industry. But in 2017, he wrote an article for Huffpost.com about his experience in the industry to help try and change the sport.

In this, he said, “There isn’t any one moment that stands out in my mind as the moment I realized I would need to live in the closet if I wanted my motorsport career to go anywhere; it was just a general feeling I got.”

Nowadays, he is considered as a prominent advocate championing the importance of LGBTQ+ rights within the racing world, despite being retired from the sport.

  • Abbie Eaton

Born in 1992 and beginning her career with karting, Abbie Eaton has since become firmly established in the motorsports world as a test driver for the second and third series of The Grand Tour, an Amazon British motorsports series created by Jeremy Clarkson. She is also a qualified racing instructor and performance driving coach, making people comfortable on the track.

In 2021, she broke her back during a W Series race at the Circuit of the Americas, which meant she had to take a break from racing, eventually returning in 2022. Throughout her career, she has competed in the Production Touring Car Championship, Mazda MX-5 Cup, Mazda MX-5 SuperCup, GT Cup, British GT and the Blancpain GT in a Ferrari 488 GT3.

Not only has Abbie had an incredible career, but is currently also an ambassador for Racing Pride, working to champion inclusivity across the sport. She is open about her sexuality in the media but has encouraged people not to define her by it, but by being the fast, British champion racing driver that she is.

  • Devon Rouse

Across the pond in the US is Devon Rouse who was born in 1998 in Iowa. He is a professional dirt track and stock car racing driver who competes in sprint cars after developing a passion for racing at just three years old, when he first started karting.

He competed in karting until he was 13 and won six championships at Shimek Speedway. After receiving a sprint car from his parents on his 17th birthday, he started racing at 34 Raceway and finished third in 2016 and second place in the following year.

In 2020, he joined Fast Track Racing for the ARCA Menards Series test at Daytona International Speedway and became the 46th fastest driver of 56. Throughout his career, Devon Rouse has been openly gay and became the first LGBTQ+ driver to compete in an ARCA-sanctioned event.

Celebrating inclusivity and LGBTQ+ figures in motorsports does, of course, not end here. But we hope that bringing the careers of these incredible drivers to your attention helps to shine a light on how much has been achieved so far, but also how much further the industry has to go to create widespread change. So, for pride month and beyond, let's celebrate the drivers who are making this industry a better place.

Inspired to get behind the wheel and begin your racing journey? Why not sign up for a Car Trackday where you can race your own car around an exciting track somewhere near you!

Image source: Andrea Sciarra / Fotospeedy

Pride on the Track: Celebrating LGBTQ+ Drivers in Motorsport
17 June 2024
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