"On women at the Le Mans 24h "- There are three types of women that go to the Le Mans 24 hours races each June. First there is the obvious category of women who actually enjoy the races, the competitiveness and the sheer passion of this event. Second, are the wives and girlfriends of the drivers who come for support and, hopefully, the celebration. The last category are the young girls who attend the event with their parents, and who hopefully keep enjoying this as they grow up - or even better, become a race car driver. :) - And then of course there is Leena Gade, the first female race engineer to win a 24h of Le Mans race with her team at the Audi Sport Factory.
Of the 263.000 attendees, I doubt more than 5% are women. The organizer of the Le Mans races, Automobile Club De L'Oest (ACO) is trying to change this. This year marked the first time the organization included a Women's Pavilion (Les Pavillion des Femmes) in the racing village. I have to stay they succeed marvelously in making women feel welcome (the space was more comfortable and certainly nicer than anywhere else at the track, sorry guys).
Free manicures, free massages, champagne and comfortable seating in front of large screen TV's and of course peonies to decorate, were just some of the features this pavilion had to offer. Oh, did I mention it had air conditioning - anyone that has experienced 30 degree Celsius temperatures in Europe can appreciate this amenity. It also didn't hurt that some of the drivers, including Patrick Dempsey of the Dempsey Proton Racing team, took a few minutes out of their time to visit.
So the next time you think of attending an endurance race, just take a few minutes to check if there is anything similar to a women's pavilion. It is worth it.