The World Endurance Championship (WEC) is doing away with grid girls, umbrella girls or grid queens as part of an effort to change with the times. No more scantily-clad women on the grid wearing bum-floss spandex costumes with copious cleavage and more. The WEC chief executive Gerard Neveu told Reuters:
“From Silverstone next week, you will see that for any race we will do — no grid girls like in the past,”
“For me that is the past. The condition of women is a little bit different now,” he said.
Former F1 driver and current WEC pilot, Anthony Davidson, weighed in on the issue of grid girls saying:
“I talk about this with my wife quite a lot, and we both agree it’s actually pretty backward,” the Briton, who has also raced in Formula One, told Reuters.
“It’s old school to have such a concept as grid girls. Surely the world’s moved on? And motor racing should follow quite closely what the rest of the world’s doing in that respect.
“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.”
We spoke about the issue last year when the Austrian Grand Prix raised the bar and had grid girls dressed in culturally appropriate clothing as a nod to the Austrian dress known as a dirndl. We found the move refreshing as a homage to Austrian culture as well as more respectful of women, however, some websites made fun of the situation. Some very large websites which I won’t name.
While many may be in agreement with the WEC’s decision, I am also sensitive to models that make a living from jobs such as these and while Austria had it right, eliminating the opportunity completely could be financially impactful to the modeling agencies that rely on racing events for revenue. Staging grid positions and adding beauty to an event is a consideration but making it look like a strip bar is another issue altogether and some of these races are only missing a pole to get the full effect.
Regardless, the WEC has taken a step to eliminate the grid girl completely. Will F1 follow suit given they generally like the glamor and most of their yearly review videos are laced with bikini-wearing women in Monaco?
What about the networks? Does April Rose bring insight and in-depth reporting to the viewers or the NASCAR cup girls in their spandex body suits? I’m not impressed with many networks that find the most attractive, curvy women they can get and throw them in the pit lane or on camera. It really is pandering to a least common denominator.
I think of women like Jennie Gow or Lee McKenzie who work tirelessly at their craft and in the US, I have always been impressed with Jamie Howe and her hard work in a very uncomfortable NOMEX suit in the pit lane reporting. Rebecca Lowe on NBC Sports covers football (soccer) and does a very professional job of it. There are women who do an incredible job unpacking sport but there are many who, in my opinion, are the network’s version of grid girls. Is it time to get rid of these as well?
Hat Tip: Reuters