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Grid girls and race queens: Are they wheelie necessary?

Check out these cheeky grid girls! Image courtesy of izismile.com

‘Paddock girls’, ‘grid girls’, ‘umbrella girls’ and ‘race queens’; all terms used to describe the variety of scantily clad females that can be found strutting their stuff on race tracks the world over. In Moto GP, the young, glamorous women are employed to undertake the thoroughly commendable job of holding an umbrella over the heads of the riders, protecting their delicate noggins from the scorching rays of the sun as they wait in the paddock or on the grid. In other motor sports too, the women are used as living and breathing (or should I say walking and pouting) advertisements for the sponsors of each rider or driver, and presumably it is thought that the more attention the girls can draw to themselves by wearing revealing clothing, so much the better for the sponsors.

Check out these cheeky grid girls! Image courtesy of izismile.com

Check out these cheeky grid girls! Image courtesy of izismile.com

Now temperatures down on the race track can soar, and so I wholly agree that an umbrella being held over the riders’ heads is a sensible solution to prevent such afflictions as fatigue and heat stroke. I also concur that while they’re standing there doing their job, they might as well be used to promote a brand or product, BUT, and this is a very big but for me, why do both tasks have to be performed by young women in hot pants and high heels? Is that really necessary?

A grid girl performing the essential job of 'pole-holding'. Image courtesy of izismile.com

A grid girl performing the essential job of ‘pole-holding’. Image courtesy of izismile.com

In Japanese motor racing events, the term ‘race queen’ is used for the promotional models, and these girls often have very high profiles and large fan bases. Those with particularly large followings can also be found at automobile shows where they are used to draw crowds, often becoming as popular an attraction as the cars they are promoting.

They were first used in the late 1960s, when a model named Rosa Ogawa was employed to represent the race winners. Prior to this, most women found on race tracks were wives and partners of the drivers and staff, with the exception of a small minority who were drivers themselves.

In Thailand, the girls are often called ‘pretties’, and I think that speaks for itself!

What a beautiful car! A campaign girl poses at a World Supercar Show in South Korea

What a beautiful car! A campaign girl poses at a World Supercar Show in South Korea

While Japan might be proud of it’s campaign girls, other countries view them and their profession as shameful and the girls tend to be looked down upon.

In the United States, grid or pit girls are mostly banned as a result of being associated with sexism. Additionally, due to the nature of the attire worn by the girls, insurance companies in the US deem them to be a safety hazard as their outfits don’t comply with the strict garage and pit area dress codes, imposed by many sanctioning bodies.

There are ‘ring girls’ too, equally as scantily clad women who enter the rings of combat sports in between bouts to inform the crowd by way of a display board, the number of the upcoming round.

Now I can hear some of you (and don’t try to deny it!), accusing me of simply being jealous of these beautiful crowd-drawing women with their long legs, pert buttocks, even perter breasts, and overall magnificence, but honestly, nothing could be further from the truth. If I had the physical attributes to be able to strut my stuff in front of huge crowds to promote an item or brand, I still wouldn’t.

But it’s the inequality of it all that really bothers me. Let me give you an example: in female boxing matches ring girls are replaced by ‘ring men’, who do not appear in all their semi-naked bronzed glory, wearing a pair of teeny tiny trunks fit to burst, but a tuxedo instead. Need I say more? Although perhaps us girls can take it as a kind of backhanded compliment that we are credited with being more interested in the sport at hand, than drooling and swooning over a handsome hunk?

You could, of course, argue that the women are being paid for their services, everything is perfectly legal and if they don’t mind, why on earth should we? I am simply suggesting that their presence on the race track is unnecessary and that while some may view them as being essential to the event, really they’re just eye candy for the predominantly male heterosexual spectators; pretty women performing mindless tasks for men, in what is very much a man’s world. And we’re better than that, aren’t we?

Kate Blanchard
Kate is an English woman currently living in rural Morocco with her husband, Ben, and their mischievous mongrel, Douglas. They moved out there three years ago after Ben was offered employment as the manager of a large fruit farm, and although life can often be challenging for them both with cultural differences and language barriers, they see this as more of a reason to stay, than a reason to admit defeat and leave. Kate tries to find humour wherever possible in life, and finds herself blessed (or as her husband would say, ‘cursed’) with an irrepressible desire to see the beauty and the positivity in what others may see to be ugly and negative. Most of all though, she has a zest for travel and exploration and finds it incredibly satisfying to share her stories of adventure with others, even if it does nothing more than transport the reader to a distant land for a few minutes.

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