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W Series to end 2021 season at COTA

September 29, 2021
The drivers pose for a photo

(Except as noted all photos courtesy W Series)

W Series, the international open-wheel championship dedicated to gaining access to the driver’s seat for women in the racing game, is making its first foray outside Europe, ending its 2021 season with a doubleheader at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) outside Austin Texas in late October. W Series will serve as a companion pair of races to the Formula One round scheduled for the venue on October 22-24.

W Series was launched in October of of 2018 as the no-cost avenue to place a women in Formula One cockpits; it’s been 45 years since a female driver last started a championship F1 race and this series is the response to remedying that situation. The series does provide equal opportunities to women and, since entry is predicated on abilities, it removes financial barriers that have historically prevented qualified women from progressing to the nosebleed territory of F1.

Drivers are selected purely on ability rather than how rich their backers might be to drive the equally built and prepared open-wheel cars. The cars are mechanically identical and, for that reason, remove hardware advantages from competition. W Series races and championships will be won by the most talented drivers, rather than those with the deepest pockets and fastest cars.

Emma Kimilainen (FIN) leads Alice Powell (GBR) and Jamie Chadwick (GBR) at the start of the race

Nearly three years since its birth, the seventh and eighth rounds of the 2021 season of W Series racing mark the first events events staged outside Europe. After six rounds this season, Alice Powell of GBR and Jamie Chadwick (also from Great Britain and the series’ first champion) both have earned 109 points to top the championship standings. Powell holds the advantage despite their equal points-scoring tallies as she has one more race victory than Chadwick (three wins to two). Emma Kimilainen of Finland holds third-place points, 34 behind the leading duo. A maximum of 50 points is on offer for the two, season-closing rounds at COTA.

Sabre Cook (USA)

In this paddock, there is a single American racer to follow, Sabre Cook of Colorado. The 27-year-old won the 2018 Renault Infiniti Engineering Academy competition at COTA; on the same weekend she also raced in SCCA’s Formula 4 U.S. Championship at the Austin circuit. Ayla Agren, born in Norway but residing in Houston for the past five years, has raced in the Road to Indy feeder series, as well as driving the INDYCAR safety car and spotting for the series. “Racing with W Series at COTA in support of the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix will be the highlight of my career so far,” Agren said.

Ayla Agren (NOR)

Lyn St James, the first woman to achieve Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year status, followed that success with an additional six starts in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. She has two class victories in the Rolex 24 at Daytona and one at the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring. She has participated in the 24 Heures du Mans and is the former president of the Women’s Sports Foundation. As an advocate for women in motorsports, St James said, “I’m very excited to be able to see the W Series drivers race in person at COTA. I met most of them when I was part of the selection committee prior to the opening season. To be able to see how they’ve progressed over a few short years, and see the new ones, will be very rewarding.”

Lyn St James at the 2019 Indianapolis 500 (Anne Proffit photo)

St James, who has taken the mantle of advocating for women throughout the sport acknowledged, “One of the goals of W Series was to provide the driver with the opportunity to race in quality cars with quality support, which would fine-tune and showcase their talents, resulting in the drivers having the opportunity to race in other categories. 

“This is exactly what has happened and I believe W Series has been a catalyst for other racing programs focused on women drivers,” St James noted. “The efforts of the FIA, W Series, the newly announced IMSA Driver Development Scholarship, ShiftUp Now, the INDYCAR Race for Equality and Change, and the Next Gen Foundation are all examples of leaders in the sport taking action to help open doors for women in motorsports.”

The precise schedule for W Series’ activity at its COTA season finale weekend will be announced as the event draws closer. The action can be seen across W Series’ digital and social channels, as well as being broadcast – beIN SPORTS covers W Series in the US – in more than 175 territories. 

By Anne Proffit

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  1. i sort of hate it that there has to be a specific series just for women racers BUT it beats a bunch o’ fat ole boys wanting to weight penalize a woman cuz she is lighter then ’em. Didn’t they ever look ast some of the French, Canadian, S.A., etc male drivers. i could easily match and exceed some of them on weight and height and then some. Don’t like it, go on a diet!

  2. They bitched about Danica but still beat her even with a weight penalty for the tiny driver. I agree that it’s silly to have a W Series, but since it’s there, let’s hope someone comes out of it with enough talent to challenge dem boyz?

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