Is it a man’s world? - Lucie Nahodilova, Emil Frey Lexus Racing

12 September 2017

Motorsport is one of the increasingly few sporting activities where women are hugely under-represented when it comes to the list of competitors. But looking behind the scenes, there are countless women actively involved in motorsports globally. They organise events, are active in race control, as team managers, mechanics, engineers, in marshalling and fulfilling a host of other important roles. The same is true for the Blancpain GT Series. In the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup alone, there are six women who inspire others. Meet the team managers of the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup:

Lucie Nahodilova, Emil Frey Lexus Racing
Education: Sports Management, Copenhagen Business Academy
Hobbies: Running, Traveling, Reading
Claim to fame: Independency and not being afraid to stand up for my own opinion.
Favourite quote: Never say never, never say forever. 

What inspired you to work in motorsports?
“It was rather a coincidence, as I was never interested in cars or racing. As I lived close to the Brno race track in Czech Republic, I was once asked to help in a catering role for the Aston Martin team during the FIA GT1. I was just 15, had no idea about racing and was very naïve. But, already on the first day, it completely got me! The enthusiasm of the people involved, the passion and excitement they work with, even when they had to stay at the track until midnight and be back again at 7am. You really have to live for this job, it has to be your hobby, not only work. I like working with people that believe in what they are doing and enjoy it – and not just come to work to ‘survive’ their 8 hours on duty and get nothing out of it.”

Briefly describe your role and your tasks during a race weekend.
“If I am to be brief, I’d just say I manage everything and everyone. Most of my work is during the pre-event phase. When we are at the track I make sure everything is running properly, everyone has the information needed and solve problems that occur. I’m the contact person for all parties involved – the organisers, the team, guests, drivers, supplier; and I also act as the ‘IT’ person in the team and arrange all radios, TVs, internet and other electronics; But this is not all. I organise all marketing, PR and media material and update our Social Media channels. During the race I’m on the pit wall, supporting the engineers on the sporting regulations side and communicate with race control and director if needs be.”

What was the biggest challenge you ever faced?
“It was definitely earlier this year, when we were preparing for the season’s first race in Estoril for the GT Open Championship. It was a huge step for the team, as we had only taken part in VLN before, which while big in Germany isn’t such a high profile European championship. I was totally overwhelmed with preparation for the first race, in which we had no prior experience in or knowledge about. I had to make all the necessary arrangements and documents, build up a completely new team, prepare all the equipment. I had to organise driver’s and mechanic’s overalls, car wrapping, fuel, media walls, radio frequencies, our own hospitality, local catering and personnel to name just a few. We did a two-day private test prior to the race which I planned as well. On top of all that, the day before I was to leave for Portugal, I had to fly to Denmark as I had a bachelor exam at my university. These were the toughest two weeks in my life, and I told myself if I can manage this, I can do anything! At the end, I completed my Bachelor’s degree with the second-best grade and our team won the very first race in Estoril. The feeling after the race weekend was indescribable – I was so happy, satisfied and pleased with not only myself, but especially with the team, and I was extremely proud of what we have accomplished in such a short time and the high level.”

What was your most memorable moment?
“I work in such an exciting industry and team that I feel like every day something memorable happens! But one of my most memorable moments in racing is from the 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans when I worked for Jetalliance. On Saturday afternoon, I had a very unpleasant encounter with a random visitor who obviously had quite a few drinks and was trying to get into our hospitality. Luckily, two of the team members noticed it, run out and knocked him out. I was dazed and shaken as I did not expect something like this to happen (my naivety). A few moments later, the team principal came to me, took me aside and told me I never have to be worried, because they will look after me and won’t allow anything to happen to me, because we are one family. This was when I understood that the connections and relations you make in motorsport are special. And I definitely consider a few people from the business as my family. Six years later, I am still very close to the team principal from Jetalliance and his family.”

Are there enough women working in motorsports?
“Well, it is getting better. Indeed, we can find some women in the team managers positions – as we are much better in organisation and all the small details than men (after all women multitask better than men :)). However, it would be great to see more women especially in the mechanics or engineering fields – there are a few already and they deserve huge respect for doing great jobs and overcoming the prejudice. Let’s all work on making this sport open to the best person for the job as opposed to just male or female. I don’t care if people are female/male, white/black, young/old – for me each person is an individual and I rather concentrate on their qualities and skills than categorisation.”

Female racing drivers who left a mark in the motorsports world just to name a few: Michelle Mouton, Jutta Kleinschmidt, Pat Moss, Janet Guthrie, Maria Costello, Denise McCluggage, Lyn St. James, Sabine Schmitz, Susie Wolff.
Which one is your favourite?
“Actually, for me it is Leena Gade as she is it the ‘woman of the track’! Very often I work and see people that seem like they have no clue about what they are doing, and they ‘’fake it ‘till they make it’. But her, I consider as the prototype of a person that owns it. When I look at her I just have the impression she knows what she’s doing, she can handle it and she belongs there, and she has definitely been an inspiration for me.”