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Today marks International Women’s Day, which provides us with the opportunity to celebrate the women working across our industry.
Vertu Motors

Rising To The (MINI) Challenge

Rising To The (MINI) Challenge

Today marks International Women’s Day, which provides us with the opportunity to celebrate the women working across our industry.

It also allows us to celebrate those women working within our various sports partnerships, with one such figure being Rhea Beauchamp – who holds a major role in running the Vertu MINI CHALLENGE.

We caught up with Rhea to discuss her position...

What is your role within the MINI CHALLENGE?

“I’m the championship co-ordinator, so in simple terms, my role is to organise and run the MINI CHALLENGE events that take place every season. 

“Unfortunately, ‘simple terms’ aren’t part of the job description, and there is a lot of work that goes into the role to make sure that our events run as smoothly as possible and that we deliver fantastic value for our teams and drivers.”

How long have you held the role?

“Too long! I celebrated 20 years with the MINI CHALLENGE last season, which means I’ve been part of the championship for longer than some of our drivers have been alive...

“I’ve worked in roles in various other championships – including British Touring Cars and British GT – but the MINI CHALLENGE is what people know me for, and has kind of become my home.”

What goes on in the lead up to a race weekend?

“Before every weekend, there is plenty to do to make sure that an event runs as smoothly as possible – and that’s only after a long and drawn out period of time over the winter where we have to finalise a race calendar and then deal with entries to make sure we have a healthy grid.

“When we get into the season, I’m responsible for chasing up the teams and drivers to make sure that the correct paperwork has been lodged for each event, and have to work with organisers on things like the paddock layout and weekend schedules so we know where we have to be and when. 

“Pre-event tests may need to be organised, whilst there are things that have nothing to do with racing that also need dealing with – like making sure everything is in place for the team running the hospitality unit.

“I’m also one of the first points of call for potential drivers who want to join our grid, so there is an element of meeting up with people to tell them what the MINI CHALLENGE is all about and encouraging them to sign up.”

And on a weekend?

“Race weekends are pretty full on and there isn’t really much time to relax. On a Saturday morning, we’ll start off with the drivers briefing to provide all of the information that is required for an event, and then it’s a case of making sure all of the teams and drivers are ready to head for the assembly area for our qualifying session, and then for the races. 

“When the cars are on track, I’m in contact with the teams if any issues arise and afterwards, we’ve got to get the drivers to the podium, make sure they get the correct trophies and ensure they do their media interviews before heading back to the paddock to join the rest of the drivers in parc ferme. We've then got to sort out which cars need to be checked by the scrutineers before getting everyone else back to their awnings, and then it’s a case of dealing with any judicial matters and sorting through all the paperwork that that entails – and there can be a lot. 

“As well as making sure the drivers are in the right place, I’m also in constant dialogue with event organisers in case there might be something that changes the schedule and have to be ready to deal with anything unexpected that may come up.

“It’s hard to really explain how much goes on behind the scenes, but let’s just say that no two weekends are the same...”

What’s the best part of the job?

“The people. I’ve got a good team around me to run the MINI CHALLENGE, who help to make my life easier, and there have been plenty of people through the years who I’ve met through my role who have gone on to become real friends.”

And the worst?

“The people! I don’t think there are many people as grumpy as a racing driver who has lost a race or missed out on trophy...”

How has female representation changed?

“There are certainly more females in the paddock now than there used to be, and taking up a much larger number of roles. When I first started out, the number of female staff members was much lower and they tended to be in less important positions.

“Now, In the BTCC support paddock alone, British F4 also has a female championship co-ordinator and there females taking on senior roles like team manager and chief mechanic.

“In the MINI CHALLENGE, we’ve had plenty of female drivers as part of the grid, including Jess Hawkins who has gone on to drive an F1 car with Aston Martin, and to see more women in the paddock through the years has been great.”

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