The inaugural Extreme E season ended on 18/19 December 2021 with the Jurassic X Prix. The race was originally not supposed to happen as it was a last-minute action taken by the series after the Amazon X Prix in Brazil was cancelled due to COVID-19. With little time to find a suitable replacement, Extreme E turned to the British Army, who quickly provided the Bovington Training Area as a track.
With the series’ presence on a military installation, the British Army Motorsport Association found resonance in Extreme E’s campaign for women to get involved in motorsport. Founded in 1960 as an extension of Army Motorcycling which began in 1937, the BAMA provides driver training and racing opportunities for service members in disciplines like Enduro, Karting, Rallying, and Trials.
Extreme E’s format stipulates a team must have one male and one female driver each, making it a perfect environment for the BAMA to showcase its Women in Motorsport initiative.
“Women have historically been under-represented in the military and motorsport, and with both sectors now moving towards more equal terrain, I realised that Army Motorsport was at risk of being left behind,” said Craftsman Laura Thomson, who works as BAMA’s media head. “We have some incredibly talented female competitors within our ranks but we are still greatly outnumbered. I hope that by creating such a group, we can advertise the opportunities and encourage female soldiers to venture into the exciting world of Army Motorsport. The recent Extreme E at Bovington was testament that women can compete successfully on the same level as men in motorsport.
“It’s important to highlight that as well as being a lot of fun, the skills and strengths gained within Army Motorsport, from logistics to physical endurance, are directly transferrable to a soldier’s military career.”
Various racing series have also addressed the gender divide in different ways. One of the more notable ongoing examples is the open-wheel W Series, which has been in operation since 2019. In America, NASCAR sponsors the Drive for Diversity, which seeks to promote female and minority drivers in the regional levels of stock car racing.
“If I am fit and strong for my sport I am therefore fit and strong in my job,” commented Private Maisie Dove, the only female member of the Army Enduro Team, which competes in enduro motocross. “Equally the mental strength I am developing from the sport carries over in to my work environment.
“I have ridden motorcycles and competed from a young age but never imagined I could have such welcome support from the British Army as an adult. The opportunity to train and enter some of the world’s toughest races had been beyond my wildest dreams and with the Army providing both the crucial time and encouragement to further my sporting potential, I feel certain I will be the best that I possibly can. I have been made to feel very welcome and certainly a valued team member. I wouldn’t hesitate to encourage women to take up motorsport in the Army.”
“The Women in Army Motorsport initiative is a brilliant idea to set up a forum of like-minded individuals that can provide a supportive peer network and a strong voice amongst the British Army Motorsport Association,” stated Colonel Lucy Giles, who is a member of the Women in Defence Governing Body and head of of UK Armed Forces Orienteering and Director for the Foundation of Leadership through Sport. “I have been involved in sporting teams since I joined the Army 30 years ago and recognise the power that can be harnessed from this approach. There are some amazingly talented women out there, so let’s get into top gear, drive up the revs and accelerate forward.”
While an ironic location due to the nation’s history of repressing women’s rights, the 2022 season will begin in Saudi Arabia with the Desert X Prix on 19/20 February.