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Barbadian Women in Motorsport featured in UK

Amid on-going work by the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) to increase inclusivity in motor sport, four Barbadians are currently being showcased in a Women in Motorsport exhibition in the UK Midlands city of Coventry. Barbados Motoring Federation (BMF) WiM chair Natya Soodeen, plus Pat Brewster, Leslie Evanson and Michelle King are pictured and profiled for their contribution to the sport.
 Coventry Transport Museum houses the largest publicly-owned collection of British vehicles in the world, with 14 fully accessible galleries home to many of the most innovative and memorable icons of the past 200 years. One ground-floor gallery has been turned over to this special three-month exhibition, celebrating women past and present in motor sport with the aim of inspiring future generations.
 While there is a focus on historical figures, such as Kay Petre, who set records at Brooklands in the 1930s, Pat Moss, the rallying sister of racer Stirling, and more recent high-profile names such as single-seater racer Desire Wilson and rallyist Katie Munnings, there is also great emphasis on volunteers, which is where the four Bajans are featured.
 BMF Vice-President David Williams said: “To have some of our island’s best-known women acknowledged in this way is high praise indeed. The exhibition mostly centres on the UK and Europe, so we are delighted to be represented.”
 Natya Soodeen is a former world class equestrian, with many years’ experience in the saddle at the top levels of the sport, who not only swapped one kind of horsepower for another, but also moved from one male-dominated sport to another. She made her motor sport debut at the Vaucluse Raceway in the second half of the 2019 BimmaCup and has expanded her programme to include Barbados Rally Club (BRC) events, winning last year's grass roots BRC Autocross Championship outright.
 Pat Brewster dived into motor sport more than 25 years ago as a marshal. She has worked with most of the island’s organising clubs, both rallying and racing, with a wide variety of responsibilities and has been a regular participant in training courses, including First Aid and Fire Safety. She has won multiple awards since 1998, most recently Longstanding Marshal in 2018 and Marshal of the Year in 2019.
 After marshalling in the early 2000s, Leslie Evanson started co-driving in 2009, before taking a break from motor sport. Since she returned to co-driving in 2017, she has sat with several members of the Turks & Caicos Rally Team and was top female co-driver in 2019. She returned to marshalling at the same time, also helping with results and timing for several clubs from 2018 to the present day.
 Michelle King has been fan for more than 30 years and first became involved as a marshal in 2014, winning the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) Rookie Marshal Award two years later, adding the Most Improved Marshal in 2019 for her work on Navigational Rallies. King is now the Office Administrator for Motorsport Services and there is rarely an event with which she is not involved.
 In addition to its main theme of Women in Motorsport, the exhibition also features other programmes seeking to increase diversification. These include Better Together, an initiative launched last year which aims to challenge discriminatory behaviours and attitudes experienced in grass roots level motor sport; Girls on Track UK, which developed from the Dare to be Different programme launched by Motorsport UK and Susie Wolff in 2016; Iron Dames, which fields female drivers in series including Formula 4 and the FIA World Endurance Championship and was founded by Deborah Mayer, recently announced as successor to Michele Mouton as President of the FIA’s Women in Motorsport Commission; and Racing Pride, which was founded in 2019 to positively promote LBGTQ+ inclusion through motor sport.
 Static displays include a Williams Racing F1 Show Car and Jaguar Racing Formula E, while the exhibition also features interactive elements, including a pit-stop experience, DIY-tracks and many video screens including race archive footage juxtaposed with cutting-edge modern content. The exhibition runs until May 31.

Editor’s note: affiliated to the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), which rules the sport worldwide, the Barbados Motoring Federation (BMF) is the island’s governing body for motor sport; it also represents the interests of its Member Clubs in discussions with Government departments which facilitate the sport in the island, in particular the Ministry of Transport, Works & Maintenance, which permits road closures for an agreed number of events each year. Away from motor sport, the BMF affiliate which answers the FIA Mobility remit is the Barbados Automobile Association (BAA), which is an executive committee member of the Government’s Barbados Road Safety Council.

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