- Logan Hannah – Recent Interview with BBC News Scotland
Motorsport has always been a male dominated sport. Not so many years ago, girl racers in cars or karts were a real rarity, and in some aspects seen by some only as a “public relations novelty”, with sceptics claiming that they were only competing by virtue of their ‘photogenic appeal’ to sponsors, spectators and organisers alike, rather than their driving skills and on track competiveness.
You have to go back through the archives for many years, before you will find any serious women championship contenders in motorsports, and then there are only really a handful of stand outs. In rallying, Pat Moss, in the sixties, Scotland’s Louise-Aitken Walker and Michelle Mouton in the eighties (1982 WRC Runner Up) and the last female driver in top flight rallying.
But consider the case of Italian Suzy Raganelli who won the World Karting Championship in 1966, beating Formula 1 stars to be Ronnie Peterson and Keke Rosberg along the way.
One of the top British racers of the era, Roger Mills raced against her on several occasions and became a firm admirer. “Susy’s father was a multi-millionaire and I don’t doubt that his money bought her the very best equipment available,” he concedes. “However, having tried to follow her around the corners I can confirm that she was also a very talented driver and would have found a place in any international team of that time on pure ability alone.”
Accordingly, you might think that Susy’s incredible feat would have won her plaudits from around the world, but such was the outcry against Raganelli’s domination of the event from the male competition at the time, that English racing lubricant manufacturer “Endurol™” went as far as to offer a free ‘protest’ t-shirt to customers with each gallon of oil purchased. The t-shirt read "DOWN WITH SUZY’s” and in brackets (“KNICKERS”)! Really it did!
Moving forward a decade, Carolynn Grant-Sale (better known as Carolynn Hoy) spearheaded an assault on the male preserve of long circuit Superkarts, almost 30 years ago and soon established herself as one of Britain’s top gearbox kart drivers. Hoy was a frontrunner in Superkarts. As Carolynn Grant Sale, she began racing in 1978 and was second in the British championships in 1982 and third in consecutive years in the ITV World of Sports series in 1983-84. Furthermore, she was sixth in the World Championship in 1984. She is now the Formula Kart Stars Managing Director. In honour of her achievements in motorsport, she was awarded the Lord Wakefield Trophy by the MSA in 2012.
But the world has moved on from those politically incorrect days and Linda Playfair, Alice Powell, Laura Tillet and Abigail Gerry, together with Tiffany and Tamsin Chittenden have all proven themselves both in karting and in some cases cars too.
In recent years several female drivers have made their presence felt at the highest levels of professional motorsport, including Pippa, Mann and Danica Patrick in Indy Cars / NASCAR, Katherine Legge in DTM / Indy Cars, Christina Nielsen in Sports Cars and Susie Wolff in DTM and latterly Formula 1 (almost) have not only continued to fulfill the ‘glamour criteria’, their on track performance has gone a long way to dispel the misconception that female racers cannot compete on equal terms with their male counterparts.
However, be warned there’s much more ‘girl power’ to come, for these days there's a new generation of young female racers aiming for the pinnacle of professional motorsport and although they might still be in the minority, the starting grids of many motorsport events worldwide are now regularly graced with one or more female drivers.
‘Girl’ racers can now be seen competing in a diverse range of motorsport disciplines, starting with 5 year old girls competing in Bambino kart time trials to women racing in both amateur and professional circuit racing, rallying and other categories.
And, what’s more, these modern day racers are not just there to make up the numbers or driving around as a backmarkers, they are running at the front of the pack and challenging for podiums.
So it’s not surprising that if you speak to just about any young girl kart driver or older female car racing driver today, she will predictably tell you that “my goal is to be the next woman in Formula 1”.
In 2012, Red Bull Racing team Principal Christian Horner was reported as saying “It is only a matter of time before there is a female F1 driver”, (in a race) – “putting this within three to 10 seasons”, and true to form, Scotland’s Susie Wolff came oh so close to fulfilling that prophecy.
Raw ambition is a vital element in the psyche of any aspiring racing driver but the equally raw reality is that very few of today’s kart racers, even the most talented of either gender, will make it all the way to professional motorsport, so statistically, the chance of a girl making it to Formula 1, Indy Car, WEC, WRC or the other top categories are proportionally even more slender.
The odds of becoming a successful professional racing driver in today’s ultra-competitive world of motorsport is akin to trying to win the lottery, but in reverse, where parents pay out vast sums of money over a 10 to 15 year period in the scant hope of seeing their child win the ‘big prize’, and perhaps recouping the return on their ‘investment’ or at least bask in the glory of their superstar offspring.
As daunting as that fact may be, it doesn’t mean that today’s kart racers (Logan included) should suddenly curb their ambitions and stop dreaming of being one of tomorrow’s F1 or Indy Car stars.
For as American feminist Gloria Steinem once said “Without imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities………. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning.”
Read all about Logan Hannah’s dreams...in her website.
So what sets Logan Hannah apart from her competition, both on and off the track?
Firstly, Logan races because she loves racing, not to prove a point about how well a girl can race against the boys on the track.
Secondly, her desire. It is said that experience and ‘seat time’ are everything in the development of any young racer, but no amount of experience will ever compensate for the desire to learn, the desire to improve, the desire to succeed and the ‘will to win’.
Click below to read more...
Even when away from the track, motorsport in general and kart racing in particular, is never far from Logan’s thoughts and without hesitation she chooses to head to the track over social arrangements, which for a 14 year old girl is a clear sign of dedication, maturity and commitment.
Logan is most definitely her own "driving" force, she alone is behind her desire to succeed ~she really wants this. She has very clear ambitions and with a steely determination she is working towards achieving them.
Logan demonstrates a level headed no nonsense approach to life ~ she is very pragmatic. When faced with a challenge or difficult circumstances she will just get on with it - rarely overreacting or becoming dramatic ~ she has shown she can think clearly under pressure. Always calm....deliberate...focused, yet Logan is demonstrably caring and thoughtful with a great sense of humour and personality.
Racing aside, she is still a young girl finding her place in the world, just like any other normal teenager, as Logan’s Mum, Sharon will testify “We are very proud of our "big girl" and what she has achieved and we are really excited to see what the future will bring...but above all……. she is that, our girl. She is funny, she is cheeky and like all teenagers hasn't quite figured out that a light switch can go off as well as on....dirty clothes don't get washed if left lying on the floor.... the volume can go down as well as up...and that life does go on without an iPhone / computer...and however much you try to convince yourself homework will NEVER be done by anyone else.”
Worcester, England, UK
GEMS First Point - The Villa
Maths, Science & Technical / Mechanical related subjects.
Swimming, Football & Netball (School Team Captain)
Normal teenage stuff…..listening to music & hanging out with friends
Mark Webber, Danica Patrick & Pippa Mann
“Talent alone does not a successful racing driver make” and the journey to becoming a professional race driver in any category, never mind F1 or Indy cars, is long and difficult. Inevitably ‘making the grade’ requires supreme self-belief, motivation, extreme sacrifices, dedication, hard work, widespread PR,
canvassing, a degree of ‘engineered’ luck…….and a realistic budget, typically sourced through sponsorship.
Logan is relishing 2016, energised by her Arden YRDA acceptance, 100% focussed and determined to optimise the learning opportunity that each practice,
qualifying and race session offers her, confident that her continuous lap by lap progress around the kart tracks of the United Arab Emirates and Oman will soon pay off for her, on the long and demanding journey to professional motorsport in cars.
Before the RMC season was finished Logan moved up from Rotax Junior Max to Senior Max for the final 2 x Rounds 11 & 12. This move brought Logan her first podium and silverware finishing 3rd in the Al Ain Raceway Challenge Trophy.
Lap times show that Logan is very much on the pace and her race craft and passing ability are being refined race by race.
However, as much as Logan is striving for podium places, the lack of silverware is not causing any angst in the team, for unlike some, she is not obsessed about results alone, as she diligently and unassumingly goes about learning her race craft further down the pack of front runners.
There is, after all, another measure of Logan’s racing that should not be underestimated, and that is the experience being gained and the lessons being learned during the tough apprenticeship she is serving in the middle of a ferociously competitive pack of drivers in the unforgiving UAE Rotax series.
It may sound trite, but although pole positions and racing into an unsalable lead at every race is every racers Holy Grail, and will make great headlines all round, such early success does not necessarily translate into becoming a successful well rounded racer.
For there is a distinct difference between developing a driver’s skills and their race results, for they are not necessarily mutually exclusive! Potential is a concept that motorsport struggles with. Does a race or championship winner necessarily have more ‘potential’ than the driver who came fifth? Or was it just down to the winner having a financial advantage with a larger budget, maybe their older, been competing longer, or developed their skills sooner or practiced more?
The UK’s Motor Sport Association’s Performance Director and former World Rally Championship co-driver Robert Reid backs this theory up by unequivocally stating, “If you always have the best machinery, drive for the best teams, and have the most track time, all in the pursuit of winning this year’s championship, you will never deal with the times when things get tough.”
Robert believes that drivers who have had it ‘all their own way’ in their formative karting years will find it increasingly more difficult as they climb the motorsport ladder, trying to cope with the psychological and technical realities of competing against drivers that are faster, in an arena where there is very little difference between the competitors, both in terms of lap times and skill levels.
Another one to argue that winning in the early years is not as vital as many claim is Formula 1’s Red Bull, team Principal Christian Horner, who has been quoted as saying that “instead of spending thousands of pounds each year because they [parents] felt it necessary to win various titles, karters would be better off spending much less, coming in the top five or ten, learning their race craft, developing their skills and having fun”.
That’s exactly what Logan Hannah is doing, racing hard, learning and having fun….the results will come.
But make no mistake, the results page on this website will soon be tallying up the championship points and podiums for Logan in the races and seasons to come. WATCH THIS SPACE!
Unfortunately, as with any young up and coming race driver, racing along the winding track to professional motorsport, talent, dedication and skill development alone often becomes secondary and subservient to the quest for funding and Logan is no different in this respect.
Consequently, Graeme Hannah has now forsaken his Radical and his own racing aspirations to be able to concentrate fully on his daughter’s long term ambitions and current kart racing programme.
Nevertheless, sponsorship will invariably be essential to sustain Logan’s racing development and climb up the career ladder,
Reacting positively to the inevitable question of “What do you think Logan can offer a sponsor?... that others can’t!
Many of the photographs used in Logan’s website are largely the work of Darren Rycroft, a photographer of exceptional talent who covers the complete spectrum of motorsport and other events in the United Arab Emirates. Learn more about Darren’s work on his website and give Darren a call for your next photo shoot. Click on the picture below to go the Darren's web page
Other photographic contributions are courtesy of Paul Velasco, Communications Manager Dubai Autodrome / Kartdrome.
Selected photographs and editorial excerpts: Circuit Pro Digital, Al Ain Raceway and Karting Magazine
Logan and her family are also grateful to the following companies for their assistance in developing this web site and other publicity materials for
“Logan Hannah Racing”.