FormulaNerds Cut To The Race Podcast

Exclusive: Inside Racing Pride and GB3 at the Silverstone GT 500

FormulaNerds took part in the Pride Hub at one of UK motorsport's most iconic events, while also getting an insight into a feeder series

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FormulaNerds attended the first Racing Pride hub at Silverstone, getting an insight into their vital work. 

Richard Morris chairs the panel session at Racing Pride's hub at the Silverstone GT 500 (Image Credit: James Phillips)
Richard Morris chairs the panel session at Racing Pride’s hub at the Silverstone GT 500 (Image Credit: James Phillips)
What is Racing Pride?

Racing Pride is a social movement to raise awareness and opportunities for the LGBTQ+ community involved in motorsport. Started in 2020, it has grown massively and has a presence in grassroots and elite competition.

One aspect that immediately stands out about Racing Pride is its unwavering commitment to inclusivity. Every new member is warmly welcomed, fostering a sense of belonging and acceptance.

This is not a movement that sporadically posts on Instagram and then disappears for the next six months. Instead, it cultivates a vibrant social community, hosts frequent events, and encourages members to participate however they choose.

Arriving at the Woodcote Suites, a welcoming banner guided all guests to their home for the day. Stepping out of the cold, Racing Pride’s Event Manager Pauline McFerran greeted us warmly and handed us the armband to access the outdoor terrace overlooking the pit lane entrance and grid. This gesture was appreciated despite the appalling late spring weather.

A day of pride for motorsport

After about thirty minutes, Racing Pride founder and driver Richard Morris took to the stage fo the first of two panel sessions. He was accompanied by Matt Bishop, former Chief Communications Officer of the McLaren and Aston Martin Formula One teams and Bryanna Harding, Director of Racing Pride.

Richard and Matt spoke of the change in attitude within motorsport and the need to bring allies on the journey for equality. Bishop highlighted the need to bring everyone on the journey for inclusivity and provided a fascinating insight into his time at Aston Martin.

Praising ex-driver and four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel, Bishop said Vettel represented everything Racing Pride stood for and recalled fond memories of working with him.

Just before the GT 500 started, the second, much larger panel took place, including representatives from Red Bull Racing, Mercedes, Aston Martin and Alpine and Racing Pride Director Bryanna Harding. These teams have a dedicated network for LGBTQ+, showing the level of progress made in just a few short years.

Founder Ambassador reveals motivation behind movement
Bryanna Harding (left), Richard Morris (centre) and Matt Bishop (right) in open discussion (Image Credit: James Phillips)
Bryanna Harding (left), Richard Morris (centre) and Matt Bishop (right) in open discussion (Image Credit: James Phillips)

Matt was kind enough to sit down with us in the packed Pit Stop cafe to discuss his role as a founding ambassador for Racing Pride. I asked him why he joined and how it started:

“I am proud to use that word to be a founder and ambassador of Racing Pride. Racing Pride was founded in 2019 in conjunction with the LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall, which is a well-known charity.

“They helped us in the early days when Richard Morris, who was the principal founder of racing Pride and still runs it. Obviously, the young racing driver, very capable racing driver, by the way.

“He came to see me in London, and we had a meeting in Victoria in a pub, actually in Victoria, and we discussed how best to go forward. It was then launched, as I say, with the support of Stonewall.” 

Matt revealed he planned for Aston Martin to become the first affiliated team with Racing Pride while he was Chief Communications Officer. He said he was proud of the accomplishment:

“It seemed a good idea that Aston Martin would become the first officially affiliated team to Racing Pride. Well, that wasn’t difficult for me to do since I worked for both organisations. So I was able to make that happen, and that was a proud moment.

“I remember, you know…driving up to the factory on the first of June and being able to park up. And then look and see the three flags.” Usually, there were two flags at the factory.

“There was the Union flag of the United Kingdom. Then there was the Canadian flag because, of course, Lawrence and Lance Stroll are Canadians. But alongside flying quite proudly was the rainbow flag. So the three flags were there, and I was very chuffed to see that.”

Matt then reiterated the importance of the hub at the GT 500, stating that anyone and everyone was welcome at the event:

“So, what are we doing here at Silverstone? Well, we’re doing what we often do, which is a racing Pride Hub, and that’s for members, and anyone can be a member of Racing Pride.

You don’t have to be LGBTQ+ because heterosexual allies are not only welcome, but incredibly important, you know, and and we have them at the highest level in motorsport….and heterosexual men and wonderful allies to the LGBTQ+ community.”

Work still to do

Matt said there had been an extensive change towards LGTBQ+ over his thirty-year career in motorsport, but says the journey is far from over. He highlighted F1 racing in countries with poor records on human rights and the mistreatment of LGBTQ+ people:

“I’ve been working in Formula One for a third of a century, and things have changed a lot in that time—all for the better, but there’s still quite a lot of work to do. You know, we increasingly race in countries that are not impressive in terms of their embracing of Human Rights in general and LGBTQ+ rights specifically.

“Now, I’m not saying we should never go there, although I completely defend somebody’s right to say that or have that opinion, and I wouldn’t argue if that’s their opinion.

“But my own view is that if we are going to have those races—I’m talking about Saudi Arabia and Qatar and places like that—and they are going to pay to spend a lot of money for us to have them, by the way. Money makes the world go round, and money makes the world of sport go round.

“So if we are going to have that, what we shouldn’t do is just turn up race and bugger off again. What we should do is arrive, declare ourselves, and say we are who you know we are, you knew who we are, who you knew who we were before you invited us.

“In other words, we are people who live and work in Europe and so on, and we have liberal values. We aren’t going to check them in at Jeddah airport, for instance, and come and collect our values when we fly out again.

“In other words, you knew who we were, and, when we’re going to be in your country, we hope to put on a fantastic race. In Saudi Arabia, or in Qatar, etc, or any other country like that, we hope you enjoy it. We hope that your citizens enjoy it and can be proud of it.

“But we also hope that, in our small way, we can say what we want to say, respectfully but firmly, and that the result of our saying it is that you and your citizens see that we whom you’ve welcomed to your country believe in human rights, we believe you can make progress in that area, and we believe you should do just that.

“If we don’t say that, we’ve missed an opportunity, and maybe even a duty, to stick up for what we believe in, as liberals who prioritise human rights.”

 Racing Pride origins
The GT 500 grid prepares for the formation lap (Image Credit: James Phillips)
The GT 500 grid prepares for the formation lap (Image Credit: James Phillips)

As the day began to close, we also spoke to Racing Pride’s founder, Richard Morris. Richard is a GT racer who actively engages with all members to promote inclusivity.

Taking a break from the cold terrace, we stood in the corner while the early 1990s playlist blasted away. Delegates watched the podium celebrations on the suite TV, glued to the action. The last few laps were intense, as a ten-second penalty was applied to the leaders.

When asked about the origins of Racing Pride, Richard said his driving force was to increase conversation on LGBTQ+, something not openly discussed in motorsport:

“So here at Silverstone, we’re having a Pride Hub and pride party, so they’ve invited a group of our racing Pride members to come and join us at the British GT Silverstone 500.

“This is our pride party, but we also have a pride hub element where spectators, people from the paddock, and so on, have been able to come in, find out a little bit about Racing Pride, what we do, and our work championing LGBT plus inclusion through motorsport.

“Racing Pride was launched in 2019, and initially, it was a small core group of us who were sort of the original ambassadors for Racing Pride. We were people who had been in motorsport and recognised that there was not much by way of LGBTQ+ visibility. There weren’t role models, and it wasn’t something that was really spoken about by the industry at all.”
Being your authentic self

Richard said he chose to come out in 2018 as he had not felt comfortable doing so before this. With no support networks or conversations in place, he used this as a catalyst to bring about much-needed change:

“I came out in late 2018 in motorsport because I, in that environment, I’d not previously felt comfortable to be myself. And a big part of it was just not seeing it being spoken about not seeing visible support.

“And so I started some conversations and was able to get some people together, and we were able to launch this movement in 2019 to begin those conversations, but it was very much a collective of a small number of individuals and some partners in National motorsport that we were able to get behind us.

“Although we had some great backing from Stonewall from, Sky Sports, and from motorsport Network, which was massively appreciated at the time, And actually, one of the very first activations we ever did was the British GT Silverstone 500 in June 2019 where Team Parker racing ran a Racing Pride logo on there Bentley GT3s, and we had some of our ambassadors on the grid so it’s great for us to be back here.

“Now, almost five years later, although the race is being held a bit earlier in the calendar this year, we’re in a position where we’re now working with several of the Formula One teams in partnership. We have members of Racing Pride as well as ambassadors Community Champions and other partners across the UK, Europe, North America, and Australia.

“Its fantastic to have Silverstone support within that. And today, I think, has been what Pacing Pride events always are really, which is an opportunity for a community to come together to find support to support each other, to share experiences and to reach out to our allies because it’s not just about LGTBTQ+.

“We’ve had representatives from four different Formula One teams speak. We’ve had Angie, a disabled driver, with Team Brit. Matt Bishop is another founding ambassador of Racing Pride. Brianna Harding is one of our directors, and he’ll help bring this project to Formula One in the first place with Aston Martin F1 team.

“It’s just amazing to be able to bring these people together, for everyone here to feel that community, and to be able to have those personal interactions in a way that I don’t think really happens in any other context.”

What Richard, Matt, and Racing Pride have done is extraordinary. They are a warm, welcoming group that seeks to ensure everyone has an opportunity in motorsport. They do this by championing change through positivity, allowing anyone and everyone to feel accepted.

If you are interested in joining Racing Pride, check out their website, or attend their next event. The delicious cupcakes are the first indication that this is a feel-good group, while the members themselves are fantastic and knowledgeable motorsport fans.

Interviewing the future
FormulaNerds interviews GB3 driver Patrick Heuzenroeder (Image Credit: Matt Bishop)
FormulaNerds interviews GB3 driver Patrick Heuzenroeder (Image Credit: Matt Bishop)

While at the event, we were lucky to speak to one of the drivers participating in the day’s racing. Patrick Heuzenroeder, an 18-year-old Australian, races in the GB3 series with JHR Developments. Sadly, thanks to the appalling spring weather, his best shot at victory was taken away. The first of his two races was cancelled, where he would have started from pole position.

Taking a break from the seemingly never-ending rain, we sat down with Heuzenroeder inside the JHR motorhome. The Australian is an exciting prospect for the motorsport world. Fast and perceptively mature for his age, he displays a composure beyond his years.

Heuzenroeder is represented by Diagonal Comms, the agency of Matt Bishop, from a family with no direct links to motorsport but are high achievers:

“Mum’s a cellist in the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Dad is a lawyer businessman in Sydney as well. Dad’s always been into Motorsport and cars, and my grandpa’s always into historic cars, so the bug has always been there.
But I’m the first one to try and take on the racing scene. Which I’m really excited about, and it’s really good. Now, I’ve got great support from my parents. My sister’s a ballerina, and my brother’s studying at the Royal Academy of Music to be an opera singer.”
A chance encounter leads to ex F1 driver

We asked Heuzenroeder about the impact of being coached by the ex-F1 driver David Brabham, son of the legendary world champion Jack Brabham. David Brabham drove for Simtek in 1994, partnering Roland Ratzenberger, who tragically lost his life at the San Marino Grand Prix that year.

Heuzenroeder recalled how he met Brabham in the unlikeliest of places: “I’m extremely lucky in the circumstances of which our paths crossed. Dad and I were on a train into London because we’re doing like a conference in Australia House and then  was a fairly busy train.

“But then, I think I was quite fortunate because Karun Chandhok sat down in one of the only spare seats in front of us. I introduced myself, and we got talking. He heard us talking about Brands Hatch. So we told him what we were doing and ended up chatting to him for 45 minutes on the way to (London) Marylebone.

And then, just as we got there, he said, “you’d know David Brabham, wouldn’t you?” Because everyone thinks Australians know Australians! And he said I’ll pass on his contact and introduce you two over email and very nice of him and he did. Then I signed back up with David in December.”

Coaching from an F1 and motorsport veteran
Patrick Heuzenroeder recalls his experiences with ex F1 driver David Brabham (Image Credit: Matt Bishop)
Patrick Heuzenroeder recalls his experiences with ex F1 driver David Brabham (Image Credit: Matt Bishop)

Heuzenroeder gave us an insight into his relationship with Brabham and how it can influence his performances: We’ll debrief and pre-brief before events, just on a Zoom call or something like that.

“We’ll talk about what work, what goals are, what we’re trying to achieve mindset and things like that. Then he’ll come along to test days, and he’ll sit in while we do data debriefs and video, etc., not really say much but just absorb it all, and then he and I will talk afterwards.”

The Australian recalled one particular example of how Brabham’s input aided a set-up change:

“He said I think you should focus on working on this rather than…other things or, just the way he thinks about things compared to I do. Obviously he’s got so much experience behind him, and his perspective is very different.

So, for example, there was a brake trace, which I wasn’t very happy with. Instead of Like trying to change it myself, he said, why don’t we go and look at the brake pedal. So then I moved my seating position, you know, and it’s just like I would never think about that at this level with my experience.”

His chance encounter with Karun Chandhok on a train into London has given Heuzenroeder a benefit many would envy. But the Australian plans to capitalise on it.

Ambition for F3

When asked about the next step in his career, Heuzenroeder confirmed 2024 would be a learning year, his inaugural year in the championship. However, he plans an assault on next year’s title: “This year in GB3 is a learning year, and then hopefully come back next year and try and win the championship.”

However, Australia has bold ambitions for the future, targeting FIA Formula Three in just a few short years. His grounded attitude to racing will only aid him as the stakes become higher as he climbs:
“JHR, they’re a good team, a great experience and learning so much from them and then you know, try and work up the single-seater ladder to Formula One. So that’s my ambition, and hopefully, David can help me along.
FIA Formula Three, probably by 2026, you know, that’d be good. And, you know, having a home race now that they go to Melbourne, well, not quite a home race, but I guess it’s as close as you’re going to get.”
Brabham’s years of experience will aid the young Australian as he moves up the motorsport ladder. That he is already reaping the benefits of his expertise bolds well for his future.

 

Feature Image Credit: James Phillips

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