One hundred Surrey school children took part in the inaugural Dare To Be Different event at Daytona Sandown Park on April 13th 2016. All of them girls and aged between eight and twelve, they were invited to be part of a nationwide initiative to inspire and encourage girls into the world of motorsport.
The Dare To Be Different campaign is the brain-child of leading female racing driver, Susie Wolff who, with the support of the UK governing body, the Motor Sports Association, launched the nationwide initiative at the Autosport Show back in January of this year.
Known as D2BD, the non-profit organisation aims to inspire, connect and celebrate women in motorsport - the project strives to cover all aspects on and off the track as well as perceived male-dominated industries. D2BD is about inspiring women of all ages and backgrounds to break the mould and shatter perceptions.
The event at Daytona Sandown Park, offered a totally unique experience to one hundred girls from ten different schools in the area. After arriving at the circuit, and being welcomed by Susie, the girls went on to experience the thrill of driving single-engine race karts on Daytona's Indy Circuit. This was followed by fun activities organised by STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics Network) which saw the girls working in groups to actually construct a working hovercraft!
Fitness and Nutrition experts were on hand with advice about healthy eating and the right exercise to achieve maximum performance both in and out of a race car. Fitness trainer, Gemma Trotter put everyone through a 25-minute aerobics class and Ceclia Clarke from Nurture-with-Nature, shared her extensive nutrition knowledge as well as her delicious, healthy snacks.
The girls also got to check out life on the other side of the camera with Sky Sports F1 who brought a film crew to showcase media opportunities. Renowned Sky Sports F1 presenter, Natalie PInkham was there to chat about her life in front of the camera as well as share her experience from the media F1 centre.
The Williams Formula One race car was also on display to get up close to and snap a selfie with. Thanks to Becky Hampton, Junior Partner Manager from the Williams Team, the girls were also able to gain insight into the aerodynamics that help to make this car perform at its peak.
Under the careful guidance of Daytona's professional mechanics as well as top competition karter, Tamsin Germain, the girls were able to actually change a wheel on a race kart in a 'pit stop' challenge against the clock - just about as real as it can get!
Susie Wolff, "Today marked the realisation of many months of hard work, and I owe a huge debt of gratitude to everybody that helped to put it all together. Dare To Be Different began life as a vision at the end of last year, and now it’s a reality."
She continues, "When all the girls arrived at Daytona Sandown Park this morning, it was truly a great moment and they all looked to be having a lot of fun during the day. It was fantastic to see them return to the pits after the karting with huge smiles on their faces and asking when they could go out again! The whole concept of Dare To Be Different is about pushing them out of their comfort zones and encouraging them to try something new. Ultimately, we want to see more girls coming into motor sport at grass roots level, and karting is certainly one aspect of that."
"The breadth of potential careers within motor sport is immense, and to reflect that, we also offered the girls journalism and media presentation skills with Sky F1’s Natalie Pinkham, building a hovercraft with the help of the STEM ambassadors, fitness workshops and nutrition advice. Today is just the start of the Dare To Be Different journey – there’s so much more still to come.”