Deana Kelley: My experience as a woman in motorsport

Deana Kelley: My experience as a woman in motorsport

Mazda Motorsports

Deana Kelley: My experience as a woman in motorsport


Mazda Motorsports turned to one of the most talented, passionate racers in our sport – Deana Kelley – to get her perspective about the sport, without spin:

When I started racing karts at age 12, my dad told me I had to be more than a driver. I learned how to get the kart ready for the weekend; how to adjust its handling characteristics at a new track; and once I was old enough, help tow the kart as well.

Throughout my childhood, my dad was always tinkering with his drag car (a ’66 Charger), so the thought of picking up a wrench never crossed my mind as something girls didn’t do. I’m very lucky that my upbringing empowered me to enter a typically male-dominated space and feel comfortable. I understand that my experience isn’t typical and it takes a lot of courage to step out of one’s comfort zone, show up some place where you are a very small minority, and learn a new skill set. Cheers to those who do!

For the most part, the motorsports community has been welcoming. Sure, there are a couple bad apples in every bunch, but they are easy to forget. When I’m at the track, racing Spec Miatas, competing in autocross, or crewing for a vintage race team, my gender is never a factor. In motorsport, I get to be me, enjoy cars, hang out with people who share a common interest, and experience the thrill of racing. It isn’t until I stop by an auto parts store or car dealership that I’m reminded of the stereotypes of my gender.

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