SHOULD GRID GIRLS STAY OR WALK? No more leggy young women scantily clothed on the grid like these at Indianapolis in 2014? Join the conversation. Image: AFP
LONDON, England - The World Endurance championship, whose annual highlight is the Le Mans 24 Hours sports- car classic, is to delete the “grid girls” from the, well, the grid.
In a move that will be applauded by many, and is sure to dismay those accustomed to seeing scantily-clad beauties posing next to cars before a race, the International Automobile Federation-backed series is adopting a more progressive stance.
Wheels24 wonders if anybody thought the ask the girls themselves, mostly models probably who enjoy the extra exposure for future bookings.
Whatever, the championship's chief executive Gerard Neveu, after a presentation for the opening Silverstone six-hour race, said: "From Silverstone on Sunday (April 12) you will see that for any race we will not have grid girls. For me that is the past. The condition of women is a little bit different now.”
The use of models, also referred to as “race queens” or “umbrella girls”, to stand by cars with a flags or placard displaying drivers' numbers has long been a feature of Formula 1. It has also been a bone of contention for those seeking more equality and less sexism in a male-dominated sport, although in some series where women racers have joined the grid the 'umbrella' role has been taken by a man.
Have your say: Do you like the grid girls or do you think it's sexist? Should they stay or go? Tell us in an email and use our home page voting booth!
Toyota's champion Anthony Davidson, a Briton who has also raced in Formula 1, said that it was about time things changed. "I talk about this with my wife quite a lot and we agree it's actually pretty backward. It's old school to have such a concept as grid girls.
"I think that's a really nice touch, a modern touch as well, from the WEC to take that aspect of racing away. It is a bit sexist."
CATERING FOR A NEW AUDIENCE
Neveu said the cars would line up diagonally opposite the pits wall and grandstand as if for an old-style 'Le Mans start'.
In Le Mans of old, before safety concerns stopped the practice, drivers would run across the track to the cars but at Silverstone there will be a rolling start.
Neveu said the changes were all part of catering for a new audience. "The sport is sport but around it we can do many things," he said. "We will have a DJ, entertainment, many things on the grid. The show will start from the grid... but the stars at the end will be the sports cars and the drivers."