Five years after her first driving instructor told her she wasn’t cut out for racing “because she was a girl,” Aurora Straus is serving as a role model to girls who want to make it in motorsports.
Straus, an 18-year-old set to attend Harvard University, nearly quit racing during her first season, largely due to the way some drivers treated her both on and off track because of her gender, according to Black Flag. Instead, she kept her head down, continued to develop as a racer and now competes in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge.
With the words of her former racing school instructor ringing in her ears as a reminder of the uphill battle she faced in the male-dominated sport, Straus’s motivation to keep going came from women who already had overcome that adversity.
“Seeing other women who were actively succeeding at (racing) — through marketing, straight-up speed or otherwise — reminded me that that guy was full of s**t,” Straus told Black Flag. “And that no one can make me feel inferior without my consent in the matter.”
On her assent through the sports car racing ranks, Straus reportedly came to accept that she needed to work harder than her male colleagues to earn people’s respect. And now that she’s reached the second-highest IMSA-sanctioned series, when people speak to, or race her differently than they would a male driver, she’ll call them out on it.
“I think that it’s a mutually beneficial process,” Straus said. “I learn from the drivers around me and they learn from me — not just how to get faster, but how to be better, more respectful racers.”
The Rennsport One driver certainly is doing her part to change people’s perception, but what she’s most proud of is doing her part to inspire the next generation of female racers.
“I think my favorite part about racing is talking to these little girls who grasp suddenly that they, too, may upend stereotypes,” Straus said, via Black Flag. “For every girl who does something novel or gets involved in a male-dominated sport, they create a space for the next girl who wants to get involved.”
Straus won’t be alone in her efforts, however. The motorsport world currently is making a big push to get girls involved in racing, as is Girl Scouts of the USA, which recently added a merit badge for race car design.
Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@IMSA
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