Grid girls

Grid girls, or grid girls, are a staple of motorsport events. The combination of fast roaring machines and fragile beauty has always added to the appeal of car and motorcycle racing.

Grid girls, Pit babes, Paddock girls or Umbrella girls are just different names for the girls accompanying the racing drivers during the races. The hired advertising beauties moving around in the starting pits, holding an umbrella over a rider or decorating the podium during the closing ceremony are all Grid girls.

If you’re wondering where this fine tradition of bejeweled and often scantily clad beauties moving gracefully between sharp racing machines or holding signs with start numbers and racers’ names was born, you’ll have to go back to the 1960s. Back then, the famous Japanese model, actress and singer Rosa Ogawa regularly accompanied her Toyota factory driver husband Minoru Kawai to races. Over time, Rosa was asked to be the face of one of the annual Japanese Grand Prix and escort the fastest driver to the podium. She became, unknowingly, the world’s first Grid Girl.

Sadly, in 1970 Minoru Kawai was tragically killed while testing the Toyota 7 Turbo racing special and his wife Rosa withdrew from public motorsport. However, the pairing of a beautiful girl and a racing beast so intrigued marketing consultants that by 1976 Marlboro had introduced a whole team of stewardesses to accompany F1 drivers. Pictured below is one of the stewardesses with James Hunt, one of the most famous drivers in Formula 1 history.


Sometime around this time, the Pit Babes became part of the carousel of grand prix and other motorsport events, becoming an integral part of the spectacle that literally millions of fans looked forward to. The contribution of the beautiful girls to making racing more attractive certainly cannot be denied. Many companies have increased their sales and profits thanks to their presence. In return, many of the girls became wealthy and well-to-do wives and girlfriends. It would seem a perfect symbiosis. But nothing lasts forever.

Unfortunately, over time, the sophistication, and in some cases the ostentatiousness, of the depot beauties became a thorn in the side of the puritanical section of the public. Without anyone talking to the girls themselves, the power groups told the public what to think of the Grid girls! “It’s sexism and it doesn’t fit into modern society” are the words of the director of Formula 1. What can we say, the girls did their job willingly and willingly, they just wanted to be liked. So what if most of the drivers protested. As of 2018, Grid Girls have been banned from Formula 1 for good!

It only remains to cynically add that the scantily clad girls no longer distract the keen eye of the fan, no longer cast a shadow on the racers and no longer obstruct the view of the racing machines for the spectators. The girls do not lasciviously rest their heels on expensive racing equipment and we are glad. Aren’t we? The design limitations of racing monoposts, which set them back decades in performance, the ban on refuelling during the race, the dictates of tyres and not least the absence of engine sound, have made F1 racing an absolute bore in recent years! The fan’s heart rate is permanently lowered and there is no longer even a chance of the Grid girl raising his heart rate.