The 5 Roles Parents of Female Drivers Play

March 28, 2024

More than half (55%) of female drivers reported that their parents were critical to their success. However, there is limited research and education for parents on how to support their daughters most effectively. Using interview data collected from our research, we found that the parents of female drivers must routinely fulfil five unique, challenging and varied roles to support their daughters' progression and success in motorsport. This article delves deeper into these findings.

Dr. Fran Longstaff, Head of Research, More than Equal.


In 2023, More than Equal released its groundbreaking Inside Track report, the largest study ever conducted on the experiences of female drivers and fans in motorsport. A component of this research involved 70 interviews with relevant stakeholders in the industry, aiming to shed light on the challenges encountered by female drivers.

More than Equal’s Inside Track report found that female drivers face a range of environmental and cultural barriers which negatively affect their participation and performance in the motorsport. In our report, more than half (55%) of female drivers reported that their parents were critical to their successful navigation through these barriers. However, there is limited research and education for parents on how to support their daughters most effectively.

Using interview data collected from the parents of female drivers throughout our research, we addressed this gap and found that the parents of female drivers must routinely fulfil five unique, challenging and varied roles including that of:

  1. Fundraiser
  2. Mechanic
  3. Trainer
  4. Psychologist
  5. Parent

“It’s not just the drivers. It's the families and the parents who maybe work all week, and then on the weekends driving all over the country to races and having to find the funding for this. What impact do you think the parents have on the young girls getting into the sport? And what do you think could perhaps be done to support parents or families a bit more as well?" (Female Driver)


Unsurprisingly the most important role that the parents of female drivers had to fulfil was that of fundraiser, with 71% of parents identifying ‘money’ as a significant barrier to their daughter’s progression. “Imagine that you would have to pay for your daughter 1.5 million pounds for the coming season... This is the single biggest challenge. I would say the other stuff is simple.” (Father of a female driver)

While every driver, regardless of their gender, face financial challenges, the female drivers and their parents argued that it was more difficult for them to gain funding and sponsorship. This was in part because there have been so few female driver success stories at the very top end of the sport over the past 30 years.

As a result, some families reported spending large sums of their own money to support their daughters through the sport. “Literally every penny has gone on racing. We haven't had a holiday for 10 years because our holidays have been at a racetrack.” (Mother of a female driver) To compound this challenge, one parent spoke about the fact that they lacked the relevant knowledge to gain funding. As a result, they had to pick-up this understanding themselves and consult the services of an agent.

"We don't know how to approach companies for sponsorship. We've got better along the way because of people that we've talked to through social media and at the track... But the agent that has now come on board with us - that has been really great - because they're familiar within the F1 paddock.” (Mother of a female driver)


In the early career of a karter, it’s not uncommon for a parent to take on the role of mechanic for their child. However, several parents and female drivers discussed the importance of this role in relation to cost saving. Many argued for greater education for parents on the mechanics of the kart so that they can better support their daughters,

“I think what I found in Bambinos especially is that there was like, “okay, here's your kart, here's an engine, see you later,” almost from the manufacturers. I think there needs to be a hands-on approach with regards to teaching parents and the kids about the mechanics side of it. You know, unless you're in a team, you weren't told anything practically, you had to kind of learn and then you’re kind of on the backfoot from the get-go.” (Parent of female driver)

Trainer and coach

Interviews with many stakeholders touched on the important role that parents play in introducing their daughters to the sport and coaching them in the basics. But in the pursuit of success, some parents discussed the additional role they played in the development of their daughter’s full training programme. “In terms of the (training) package, I prepared that for her. She has personal trainers, she has psychologists, she has a good team, always.” (Father of female driver)

What became apparent from our research is that parents often have to piece-together their daughter’s training plan while also making female-specific training considerations.

" There's a lot of information on YouTube and social media where you can link up with coaches, but I think you've got to remember from a female's point of view, development is different. And if there is a dedicated programme for girls only, I think that's the route if you really want to develop an F1 driver. You've got to cater for the girls physiological and mental attributes over time, not just now, but I mean up to the age of what they're at now to 21 to become an F1 driver.” (Father of female driver)


Several drivers and their parents discussed the added pressures and challenges that came from being the only female driver at racing events. This pressure could come in the form of being on the end of driving aggression from opponents who didn’t want to be beaten by the only girl, or simply from being in the spotlight as one of a small number of talented female drivers. One of the parents emphasised their role in keeping their daughter focused when surrounded by these pressures and distractions.

“I try to keep her focused-on racing, and I'm dealing with anything else. So, for her what she hears are things from the public is, ‘okay, you're fast, you have the potential.’ So, I'm the one who deals with this feedback.” (Father of female driver)


Finally, several parents talked about the importance of not forgetting to sometimes just be a parent and being there to provide comfort when needed, and space to play and develop. “I'll always be the sweetener if it's been, not the greatest weekend and give her a hug because she still needs a hug.” (Mother of a female driver)

“There’s no format for the girls to get together between heats and it's something that the parents have to do themselves. (She’s) certainly has found her own path like talking with the lads and you know, going off and climbing and playing. They have to become independent themselves as well.” (Father of female driver)

Takeaway messages

The parent of any child in motorsport plays a significant role in their child’s experience and progression through the sport. However, because of the range of unique barriers facing female drivers (ranging from limited sponsorship opportunities to a lack of gender-specific training) their parents must fulfil some additional unique and varied roles including Fundraiser, Mechanic, Trainer, Psychologist and finally Parent.

In most cases, the parents of female drivers piece together the education and knowledge to fulfil these roles themselves. But if we truly want to better support female drivers' progression through motorsports, parents need more formal education and training opportunities in areas including:

  • Networking and fundraising
  • Basic engineering and mechanics
  • Gender-specific training for female drivers
  • Mental skills training for the unique psychological pressures facing female drivers

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