Last week I visited Daytona Milton Keynes to spend the day at the Dare to be Different ‘F1 Special’ event. It was a D2BD event with a twist, with all 100 girls being daughters of people who currently work in Formula 1.
On arrival to the venue the day was already in full swing. In the pavilion there was a group of girls on the BATAK board and another group just across the room doing some fitness tests.
Outside a group of girls, with the assistance of some Sky Academy members, were preparing for their Sky F1 experience. They were scripting out their pieces with one girl acting as presenter whilst three others would act as drivers on a podium.
Walking towards the pits area I then came across a group of girls doing the tyre changing challenge. Girls would take part in groups of two and would have to change a tyre each, whilst across the road girls were having their pictures taken with the Mercedes F1 car.
Across the pitlane we had girls making a hovercraft, yes a hovercraft! It took me a while to get my head around it too, but it was impressive!
Then last but not least we had the final group of girls on track having their karting expeirence.
Although this event was slightly different in how the girls were chosen the concept remained exactly the same.
How was it run?
At the beginning of the day the girls are split into groups with each group receiving a different colour T-shirt to wear. They were then given a timetable which told them the times they’d be doing each activity, but they were also reminded over the tannoy throughout the day.
I must admit for the first year running the event the turn arounds were all done very slickly and I didn’t seem to notice any problems throughout the day. Lunch was laid out for the girls and guests too and the lunch break ended with a photoshoot around the Mercedes F1 car.
Everywhere you looked there was something happening and the D2BD volunteers seemed to work really well with all the girls.
The MSA were also in attendance along with lots of press and of course Susie Wolff with Toto even popping along in the afternoon.
Daytona did a great job!
One thing that really impressed me was the work of the Daytona staff! They were dealing with girls who were all jumping in karts for the first time.
We all remember how nervous we were the first time we went out on circuit and the Daytona staff did an excellent job in putting the girls at ease and safely preparing them for their run on circuit.
The staff had all the girls practise using both pedals in the pits and once they were happy the girls were sent out on track in intervals. Marshals were very quick to respond to any incidents that happened, of which there were very few, and I only heard praises from everyone around the circuit on the job they did!
I think D2BD picked the perfect venue to run this event.
Could this change the sport?
I think the answer to the above question is most certainly yes!
Around 90% of the girls I spoke to enjoyed the karting the most and the ones that didn’t were particularly interested in another field which included media and engineering.
What D2BD are doing is introducing girls to the sport who, if not for the project, probably would have never even tried it. They were also able to try it in a safe environment where they didn’t feel left out.
This is not to say all 100 girls will definitely take up karting, but it’s at least giving the sport a chance at taking in some new budding female drivers.
I think D2BD will undoubtedly change the sport for the better and that is all down to Susie Wolff and her team.
Written by Chris McCarthy
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