The groundbreaking new Dare To Be Different initiative sped into Northern Ireland on Tuesday as 100 schoolgirls were given a rare insight into every element of motorsport from driving and engineering to fitness, nutrition and media skills.
Founded by former Formula 1 driver Susie Wolff and the Motor Sports Association (MSA), Dare To Be Different is a high-profile programme designed to inspire, connect and celebrate women in every aspect of motorsport.
Following a hugely successful inaugural event at Daytona Sandown Park last month, Dare To Be Different crossed the Irish Sea for its second outing of 2016 at Nutts Corner – Northern Ireland’s premier karting circuit.
As at Sandown, 100 girls from 10 local schools lapped up the experience, taking to the track in 270cc Sodikarts for some high-octane action under the watchful eye of current Porsche Carrera Cup GB competitor Charlie Eastwood – a world championship-winning karter himself in 2012.
“Having come through the karting ranks, I can certainly vouch for the fact that there is no better proving ground for the racing drivers of tomorrow,” the Northern Irishman remarked.
“Although many of the girls here were understandably apprehensive having never done anything like this before, once they began feeling more comfortable out on the circuit, you could see their confidence begin to build.
“Of course, motor sport is about far more than just driving, and the wealth of career opportunities across the industry is mind-boggling – for every racing driver, there are tens if not hundreds of vital unsung heroes behind-the-scenes making it all possible. Hopefully we have helped to inspire some dreams today.”
Few sights could be more inspirational than Lewis Hamilton’s title-winning F1 car – proudly displayed at Nutts Corner thanks to the support of the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team – whilst national flagship programme STEMNET (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Network) was again present to assist with a fun and educational hovercraft-building exercise.
The girls also received media tuition and interview skills advice from Sky Sports F1 presenter Rachel Brookes – a Dare To Be Different ambassador herself – and enjoyed workshops on diet and fitness, meaning they all left with a comprehensive understanding of every facet of this fascinating sport and as official Dare To Be Different delegates, armed with photographs and other souvenirs.
After each event, there will be a prize for the participant who most effectively communicates and spreads the Dare To Be Different message to her fellow students upon returning to school.