Charlie Martin has pushed for racing to be a more inclusive place for years, and this weekend she’ll make both LGBTQ and racing history by being the first transgender car driver to race in the Nürburgring 24 Hours.
“This is one of the biggest endurance races of the year, on a circuit famous for its complexity and changeable conditions,” Martin told Autoblog. recently. “This is also a very proud moment for me as the first transgender entrant in this race.”
Martin has been fascinated with racing since her childhood. She started her career as a hillclimb racer in a Peugeot 205 before trying her hand at circuit racing by running a three-hour endurance race at Le Mans.
In 2012, in the middle of growing her presence in the sport, Martin began the complicated process of transitioning to living fully as a woman. She considered giving up racing altogether, but friends and family convinced her that she could be both a woman and a racecar driver. She went on to win her first race in 2014, in France at St-Gouëno. Last year she raced a Norma M30 LMP3 car in the Michelin Le Mans Cup. She’s driving a BMW M240i in the Nürburgring race this weekend.
By staying in racing, she positioned herself to be a voice for inclusion in what is normally considered a very heteronormative masculine sport. Jalopnik interviewed Martin in 2018 and learned what staying in racing meant to her:
Above all else, Martin sees herself as a racer. When she puts her helmet on and gets behind the wheel, she’s just like any other person on the starting field.
But she also recognizes the importance of telling her story. She recognizes the role she can play as a gay trans woman and an LGBTQ+ advocate in a traditionally heterosexual, cisgender, male-dominated field. Recently, Martin has begun working with the charity Stonewall and hopes the see the relationship there flourish.
“In a position where you’re visible publicly and doing things to get exposure, if you can promote a positive message, then that’s a great opportunity to do so,” Martin says in tandem with her activism. It’s the same with any other driver—she hopes that if more big names in the sport genuinely speak out in support of the LGBTQ+ community, then we can start seeing a big change in the atmosphere surrounding the motorsport world.
Martin has competed all season in the Nürburgring Endurance Championship with Adrenalin-Motorsport. As well as racing in Nürburgring 24 Hours, Martin plans to compete in the Britcar Championship in a Praga R1, according to Autoblog.