Driving Forward Racial Diversity in Motorsport

Friday 03 December 2021

Motorsport UK’s Racial Diversity Sub Committee has made a significant step forward in its mission to increase racial diversity by holding the inaugural Driving Forward Racial Diversity in Motorsport Conference.

On 25 November over 60 delegates, who represented a selection of the sport’s top names, were in attendance at the governing body’s Bicester headquarters for the daylong conference to discuss and debate the issues and opportunities.

From racing teams and competitors to national media and online influencers – some of UK motorsport’s most prominent figures convened.

They did so because they were united by a joint determination to advocate for a broader and more racially diverse sport. It is only through hearing the lived experiences of those within and outside of the sport that everyone can start to understand what needs to happen to advance racial diversity.

The day commenced with the Racial Diversity Sub Committee presenting the findings of The Hamilton Commission, a report commissioned by 7-time Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton to examine the barriers that exist to progressing racial diversity and how these can be best addressed.

Delegates gained insight from young drivers currently progressing through the sport in a panel session titled Young and Gifted – focusing on the experiences of those who sit in the cockpit. Aaron Mensah, 14, and Corey Alleyne, 19, both members of Arden’s Young Racing Driver Academy, Josh Bugembe, 11, karting race winner, and Carl-Daniel Chase, 29, a skilled vehicle engineer, all bravely and boldly recounted their experiences and gave their views. Within this broader discussion, Jahee Campbell-Brennan, a member of the Sub Committee, gave his own unique account of how he crafted his own pathway into the sport.

One question that is often raised when it comes to progressing diversity of any kind is how action can be accomplished by those wanting to help. Professional racing driver and W Series Diversity and Inclusion Ambassador, Naomi Schiff, hosted a leaders panel discussion with Kelechi Okafor, an actress with over 100,000 followers on Twitter and Instagram, and Andy Hyde, Co-Founder of social venture RC Vision. The panel helped to offer delegates some practical ways to make progress by proactively creating dialogue with underrepresented groups. This was reinforced by the Conference’s keynote speaker, Rene Carayol, a professional broadcaster and author, who gave delegates encouragement and inspiration with an impassioned address to the room.

The final session of the day was a presentation which focused on how women can progress into the sport – delivered by Catherine Bond Muir, the CEO of W Series – the first international all-female single-seater racing championship. Bond Muir has demonstrated through her own journey how a bold idea to provide more access into the sport for women can manifest rapidly with determination and support. Her valuable knowledge benefitted all those in the room by enhancing their understanding of how ideas can be turned into realities.

Overall, the Conference was an important start in helping delegates – and in turn the wider motorsport world – to better understand the issues so that this knowledge can be used as a launchpad for significant actions going forwards.

Hugh Chambers, CEO of Motorsport UK, said: “To become a fully inclusive sport we have to advance racial diversity. Holding the conference has helped us all to better understand what is required to deliver genuine diversity. We are grateful for the work done by our Racial Diversity Sub Committee in making the conference happen and want to thank all delegates and media for helping to create a day that carried real meaning and the desire for change throughout. The work must now begin to put these learnings into practice with tangible actions.”

Mike Bugembe, Chair of the Racial Diversity Sub Committee, said: “Our Driving Forward Racial Diversity in Motorsport conference was the first step in helping drive forward racial diversity in motorsport. To solve this challenge, we need to be able to have frank and open conversations around racial diversity. These conversations can be difficult, emotional and sometimes challenging. However, we cannot find a solution without learning and understanding from each other with a view to making real commitments to inspire change. It was a pleasure to see our delegates united by the cause of progressing racial diversity in motorsport, and we would like to thank attendees, speakers, panelists, and Motorsport UK for their commitment to creating a fully inclusive sport.”