When Susie Wolff launched ‘Dare To Be Different’ in January this year, along with the MSA, the Former F1 Test Driver wanted to give something back to the community that had helped her so much.
From 100s of school girls trying their hand at karting and STEM activities to networking events at the British GT race at Silverstone, Dare To Be Different has showcased, empowered and connected many. It’s given the women of Motorsport the chance to speak out in this male-dominated industry.
With members including Maria Costello, Rachel Brookes, Ruth Buscombe and Claire Williams, Dare To Be Different is defying outdated stereotypes and inspiring the next generation of women in Motorsport.
“I believe we are defined by our strengths and characteristics in life, not gender,” Susie Wolff said. “I found my passion early in life and had a dream to make it to F1. I was never on a crusade to show what a woman could achieve. I was simply on a crusade to be the best racing driver I could be. Now, I want to inspire the next generation and showcase the successful women in M so they can become role models. Motorsport isn’t a male dominated environment anymore, I dare to be different and I want to inspire others to do the same.”
Yesterday, I chatted to Susie Wolff who reflected on Dare To Be Different’s first phenomenal year.
When you first started Dare To Be Different, did you ever imagine it growing this big?
Of Course, I had big expectations of what we were going to achieve and I felt the need for an initiative like Dare To Be Different. This has been an incredibly successful first year; I have a great team of people around me and helping me run it. I definitely couldn’t do it without them. We’ve got even more planned for next year; it’s a long-term project. We always knew that we wanted to walk before we could run and it’s about year on year building on what we have. It’s been a very successful year.
What has been your highlight this year?
I think there has been more than one highlight this year. Some of the events we do with the school kids, seeing the difference when they arrive at the beginning of the day to how they leave the event has been fantastic. When some of them arrive, they don’t even want to go near the kart track and others look confused when they see the ‘Pit-stop Challenge’! But, by the end of the event they are absolutely loving it. The feedback from schools, the teachers and the parents has really been phenomenal.
On the Community side, some of the things we have been able to set-up for the members is great. Next year, we want to do a little bit more on marshalling and scrutineering – that’s where we feel there’s a real chance to enter the sport where you don’t need to have money to get involved. You can learn a lot and it can open many doors, so that’s definitely one of the areas we are hoping to expand on next year.
Has there been something a little girl has said to you about how much she has enjoyed an event that you’ll remember?
Absolutely! There was one little girl at the Irish event who at the end of the day gave me a tap on the arm, looked up at me and said: ‘It has been the best day of my life.’ You know, regardless of whether or not this little girl goes into Motorsport, to know that Dare To Be Different has given her the opportunity to broaden her horizons, just gives me a sense of immense satisfaction. The girls leave these event days feeling that they can achieve much more than they have ever dreamed of.
What would you say to someone who wants to work in Motorsport, just doesn’t know specifically what they want to do within the industry?
Maybe, the best thing to do is to go to one of our marshalling or scrutineering days and just get yourself into the sport – start going to events, start walking through the paddock and see if there are teams that are looking for someone to help out. Even if it’s just washing the cars! Look for the opportunities, because they aren’t going to come to you on a silver platter. You have got to go and get them. It’s such a competitive environment so make the most of everything you get offered.
Dare To Be Different has made headlines across the Motorsport industry this year, and has given so many the confidence to follow their dreams, no matter their gender. And rightly so.
If you are interested in joining D2BD, you can find out more information here: https://daretobedifferent.org/