Ever since her lightbulb moment in October 2018 to start the world’s first women’s only motor racing competition, Catherine Bond Muir has been busy, writes Adam LeRoux.
But all the hard work and effort the CEO has to put in on a daily basis is testament to the rise of the W Series, since the start of its inaugural season just over ten months ago.
The six-race series on tracks across Europe culminated in 21-year-old Jamie Chadwick being named champion in August last year, with the competition gaining more and more publicity with each passing day.
Engines are scheduled to start again at the end of May and there’s already been expansion with races in Texas and Mexico City added to the roster.
“This is the first season I’ve had,” Bond Muir said. “No-one told me that it’s busier in the off-season than it is during the season!
“It’s incredibly exciting, to go into new territories and a new continent and start being a truly international series, and it’s fantastic that we’re giving women the opportunity to be seen around the world.
“We were completely overwhelmed by the response we got, we’ve got interest from all corners of the world, and that’s what really surprised us, just how much interest internationally we garnered.”
Even in its current embryonic state, the W Series has changed the state of play within motorsport, with the current crop not only competing for the title, but also providing the next generation of young girls with the hope that they too can compete on the biggest stage.
With less than 10% of motorsport drivers across the world being women before its inception, and that number decreasing year on year, the W Series offers a platform to showcase the very best female drivers, who grew up without a heroine to admire.
For the majority of racers, Formula 1 is the pinnacle of their career, but you have to go back 44 years for the last time a woman was on the starting grid, with trailblazer Lella Lombardi finishing 12th in the 1976 Austrian Grand Prix.
That’s why, despite having naysayers lamenting the segregation of genders in the competition’s early stages, Bond Muir is confident the W Series will only go from strength to strength.
“Our great aspirations for W Series is to garner more interest in women involved in motorsport, and that certainly has happened” Bond Muir said.
"The evidence of that is all the drives that our drivers have got outside of W Series,
“It’s a great celebration of equality in motorsport and that move towards equality, obviously we’ve still got a hugely long way to go, but there are lots of initiative going on around the world.
“I think in a few years we may well look back to 2018 and say ‘I don’t believe there weren’t very many women in motorsport’, because hopefully in a decade’s time they will be populating all series.”
And in Chadwick, the W Series may have already unearthed its first diamond, with the 21-year-old dazzling last year, as well as being development driver for the Williams F1 team.
With a maturity that defies her years, Bond Muir believes the Bath-born star could be the first woman to make the leap, and a lot sooner than we think.
“I think what’s extraordinary about Jamie is that she’s only 21 and you would speak to her and think that she’s in her late 30s," added the CEO.
“She’s an old head on young shoulders, she’s very together and very composed and has a piercing sense of where she wants to go in the world, which is Formula 1.
“This time last year I wouldn’t have said our first proper drivers would get into Formula 1, but I think she may do it.”