Driving Motorsports into the Twenty-First Century

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Society Editor Tilly Judges speaks to Motorsports Society President Alex Megginson about the society’s plans to get more girls into the driving seat!

President Alex Megginson’s interest in motorsports started as a child who liked to watch Formula One with his family, this interest grew and led him to join Motorsports Society in his first year of university. 

Despite not getting fully involved in the society until second year, Alex says that once he attended the events that Motorsports Society organised, he realised that the society was “full of people [he] identified with and enjoyed spending time with”. Motorsports Society gives students at Leeds the opportunity to take part in motorsport no matter their previous experience and can give students the opportunity to live life in the fast lane whilst they have fun and make friends.

Alex’s story of an interest in motorsports from a young age is one that many boys can relate to, as they grew up wanting to be Lewis Hamilton or Michael Schumacher. The extremely male-dominated sport leaves little space for inspiring young girls to get involved, and this creates a vicious cycle of exclusion for women within motorsports. 

Alex Megginson has recognised the lack of female participants in his society, with only 4 of the 67 members being female, and has promised to do something about it. Motorsports Society can arguably boast about 6% of their members being women, as only 3% of those who hold race licenses, and can therefore compete in Motorsport UK car events, are women. Although they have double the proportion of women in their society as those who can race in the UK, Motorsports Society are not happy with these low ratios, and Alex aims to increase the gender diversity within the society during his time as President. 

This problem has been identified in the professional motorsports community and there have been various attempts to involve women across the sport, breaking the cycle of women being excluded from motorsports. In 2009 the Women in Motorsport Commission was created to demonstrate a recognition of the imbalance in the sport and to encourage women to participate. 

Since its creation in 2009 it has been involved in multiple seminars to discuss the issue, however it has taken ten years until its first major milestone of opening the FIA Women Drivers Academy. There are various difficulties that surround women involvement in motorsports, including the main debate of whether men and women should race together.

This commission will hopefully be able to solve the various factors that result in less women getting involved in motorsports professionally and for fun. The Motorsports Society at Leeds believe that the factors that stop women from getting involved are the sport being dominated by men, the lack of support at a grassroots level to encourage women to get involved in the sport and the newness of organisations such as the Women in Motorsport Commission. They believe that given time, these organisations will be able to have the impact that they aim to and will help girls to get involved in motorsports.

In the meantime, they believe that you should get involved in their society. They describe their society as “fast, fun and friendly” and offer a chance for women to get involved in motorsports for the first time. Following feedback from their female members, the society has organised a Women’s Only Karting event to encourage girls to get involved. Although the society can’t solve the lack of grassroots support for female involvement in the sport, the Women’s Only Karting event is an opportunity to give young women at the university the opportunity to try karting in an environment that can remove any worries over lack of experience or the sport being too male-dominated.

No female members of Motorsports Society have been involved in motorsports before university, so there’s no need to be worried if you haven’t tried karting before. This event gives women interested in the sport a chance to try something new without feeling like they’re starting on the back foot.

If you’re interested in attending Motorsports Society’s Women’s Only Karting event at 3pm on the 19th February, head to their Facebook page Leeds University Motorsport. Tickets are only £19 and include both racing and transport to and from the event, leaving from the Parkinson Building.

No matter your gender, get involved in the fastest society at the university – the cheapest way to get involved in competitive motorsport. With opportunities to take part in the Tour De Yorkshire or the national British Universities Karting  Championship and attend fun socials, Motorsports Society is the best way to mix your love of racing with making new friends. Join Motorsports Society by visiting their Facebook page Leeds University Motorsport for more details.