At the start of April, it was announced that the World Endurance Championship will drop the practice of using grid girls. This decision has been part of an anti-sexism movement in Motorsports. There are mixed feelings about the elimination of the grid girls. Like Formula One, WEC is also run by the FIA, meaning that sooner or later, the grid girls will go extinct in Formula One as well.
Whether they are called grid girls, pit girls or umbrella girls, their role is always the same. You may know them. They are those attractive women that stand at the driver’s grid and hold a sign with the driver’s number on it. These glamorous models are often sporting clothes that – no matter how revealing or skin-tight – reflect their country or the sponsor of the Grand Prix. In the 2014 Austrian Grand Prix, the grid girls showed off their nation’s traditional Dirndls.
However, eliminating the grid girls would not be an entirely positive thing. Although yes, it is a stereotype against women and they are just paraded around like trophies, having grid girls has been a tradition in racing that has lasted for decades. Way back in the 1970s, when Formula One was ruled by playboys like James Hunt, we had the legendary grid girls by their sides. Back then, they had little to do with representing their countries, but they added a sort of glamour to the sport.
It is also important to remember that being a grid girl is not always a bad job. In fact, in an interview with some British Touring Car Championship grid girls, it was found that a lot of grid girls actually enjoy what they do. And they are not underpaid. Being a grid girl can actually pay quite well, depending on the size and popularity of the event. By taking away grid girls in Formula One, they would lose that money. And for some of the girls, this is the gateway to a career in modelling.
Although it will eventually happen, the elimination of the grid girls in Formula One is not really needed. I fully support anti-sexism, but for many, being a grid girl is something that they enjoy. This is a grand tradition that should stay.