The inspiring trailblazers of Supercars

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 08/03/2021
  • By James Pavey

Australian motorsport is rich in history, and women continue to play a crucial role in furthering the reach and impact of the Repco Supercars Championship.

March 8 marks International Women's Day, which celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

From broadcast to administration, and team ownership to communications, several critical roles in the category are steered by females.

Supercars.com has moved to celebrate some of the women who have helped take the category to the next level, such as Shannen Kiely, who on Monday was named as an ambassador for the FIA Girls on Track programme.

Erebus Motorsport's Shannen Kiely (L) with Betty Klimenko

Kiely has been a fixture of Betty Klimenko's Erebus Motorsport squad for five years, and enters 2021 as the team's managing director.

This year, Kiely has linked up with the global, not-for-profit initiative, which is the brainchild of former Formula 1 development driver Susie Wolff.

The initiative, which expanded into Australia in 2018, will see free events provided throughout the year for young women to participate in with the aim of increasing interest in STEM subjects.

"Motorsport is something I have been around for almost my entire life, so it was a natural path for me," Kiely said.

"For many others though a career in motorsport isn’t something that would cross their minds, so it’s important to educate our next generation of girls about what opportunities are out there for them.

"I have seen the amazing work FIA Girls on Track have done for many years now, and I am very proud to be named as one of their ambassadors.

"I hope I can help inspire as many girls as possible to think outside the box and consider a career in motorsport.

"The door is open to anyone that is willing to take on the challenge and we want to see more female participation across all areas."

Triple Eight's Jess Dane

Kiely is part of a wider family of communications representatives for main game teams, such as Dick Johnson Racing's Megan Crockford, Team 18's Sarah Paull, Brad Jones Racing's Hayley Tyrell, Matt Stone Racing's Bek Davey and Triple Eight Race Engineering's Jess Dane.

The latter recently became a major shareholder of the powerhouse Triple Eight team, and has also been key to driving female involvement in motorsport.

"To be completely honest, I never really noticed that I was one of the odd ones out by being one of the few females in pit lane," Dane told Supercars.com last year.

"I think that's actually a testament to the sport and testament to our paddock that I never felt like I was in the minority."

Seven's Abbey Gelmi (L) with Mark Beretta

The broadcast is skippered by Jess Yates, who has headed Foxtel's world-class coverage of the championship since 2015.

The likes of Seven Network host Abbey Gelmi, former Australian Rally Championship winner Molly Taylor and esteemed broadcasters Charli Robinson and Briony Ingerson will join Yates in bringing Supercars to television screens around Australia. 

Ingerson, a long-time associate producer for the Supercars broadcast, explained that the sport will only continue to grow with women at the fore.

"It's amazing to see how much of an impact women have had on Supercars," she said.

Briony Ingerson (L) with Craig Lowndes

"From marketing to being behind the camera, to team ownership to mechanics, women carry out many crucial roles in pit lane. 

"Critically, it's important to have a different perspective in a traditionally male-dominated sport.

"That can only be an advantage for Supercars, and I'm so proud that I can play my part."

The Repco Supercars Championship field will return to Victoria for the Penrite Oil Sandown SuperSprint across March 20-21. Tickets are on sale now.

The event will be broadcast live on Foxtel and will be streamed on Kayo. Check out the full TV schedule here.

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