Look, if Grid Girls — barely dressed women standing next to race cars — are still going to be a thing, let's at least go for equal opportunity objectification. That's where Ryan Doherty comes in. He wants to be a Grid Dude.
See, the whole notion of grid girls is a bit problematic. It's a bit absurd to ask why there aren't more women in or interested in racing when we're still parading women about for the sole purpose of looking pretty. While that's not going to stop me from having a good time, it does give the first impression that it's still a good ol' boys' club, and the womenfolk are there to hold signs, deal with the awkward stares and stay out of the way of any serious business.
I'd take the much more relaxed mix of friends and fans (of both genders!) in the World Challenge TC/TCB grid staff over the F1 girls any day. (Even more so given that Austin's F1 girls are dressed in some kind of bizarre fringed getup that's a mix of Pocahontas-lite and something that fell off the Sooner Schooner—but that's a whole 'nother rant entirely.)
Both sets of flag-wielding standers-about seem quite professional and polite — it's just that one wasn't so heavily skewed towards a single gender. World Challenge has its share of spandex-clad flag girls, but that doesn't seem to be a requirement or a focus, so kudos to them. To be honest, that's an opportunity I'd rather see go to a fan anyway, regardless of how hot their bod is.
I've found some kindred spirits in the LeMons racers set to race the Arse-Freeze-Apalooza at Sonoma this weekend. Ryan Doherty of Team Jaywatch has been ranting against sexism in racing for a while, the first rant of which was sparked by a series of predictably insulting girl versus car posts by an online retailer:
I'm starting to get sick of 'girls' or models at car races to stand next to drivers. It's sexist, plain and simple. Racing is a male dominated industry and this only perpetuates the stereotype that women can't drive and should be relegated to being something pretty to look at or 'reward' the winners.
Also I'm pissed at the constant use of 'girl' to denote a woman. We don't say 'boy' when referring to adult males, why do it for females?
If I ever manage to win anything motorsports related I want a 'boy' (aka adult male) in a speedo to stand next to me when accepting the trophy. Any takers?
Naturally, when Sonoma Raceway asked its fans to pick their favorite grid girls on Facebook, Ryan chimed in with a self-nomination:
I couldn't possibly support this more. For one, that is a fantastic Hello Kitty outfit, complete with a perky pink skirt. Any guy with the huevos to stand around a LeMons paddock in that surely has the self-confidence needed to hold a flag up for a little while. Secondly, well, he's right.
Normally, I wouldn't have noticed a post from a Californian racetrack I haven't driven (...yet), but Ryan's nomination went full Streisand Effect among crapcan racers when Sonoma started culling critical responses — including the pink tutu'd nomination itself.
Luckily, Eric Rood of The Rusty Hub took a screencap and reposted Ryan's oh-so-glorious nomination for all to see.
Several other LeMons racers from the team joined in with their own nominations after Ryan's initial picture was nuked from orbit:
Others still chimed in with voices of support for the idea of grid dudes. (Self included.)
Whether it's booth babes, grid girls or product models, it's time we start giving opportunities to be close to the action to fans, regardless of whether they're considering a career in modeling. Pick representatives on professionalism and interest over looks, please.
Good luck, Ryan Doherty. We're all counting on you.
Photo credit: The Rusty Hub (original post), Getty Images