Tara Johns shares the latest initiatives on getting more women involved in motorsports
In just over a year since the program rolled out at the 2017 SCCA Solo National Championships and nine months since it was formally introduced at the SCCA National Convention in January, the Women on Track initiative has been met with enthusiasm and experienced huge growth. But Tara Johns, who along with Linda Duncan and Velma Boreen – with an assist from Mazda Motorsports – has spearheaded the program, wants more.
“The goal is to bring more women into motorsports,” says Johns, the 2018 C Street Ladies SCCA national champion. “In the beginning, autocross has been the focus; but it’s simply trying to bring more women into the sport. We’re trying to start all of this at a local level, following that all the way up to the national level, trying to get ladies off the sidelines; not just coming with husbands or boyfriends, but getting in the car and driving.”
The original committee keeps growing as they add more people from across the country. There’s also a Facebook page with more than 800 members, including road racers and RallyCrossers. The idea is to have a committee that can not only deliver ideas to local regions, but also take successful ideas from the regions and spread them around the country.
“A lot of regions are doing their own schools,” she says of one idea that has proved fruitful. “They’ll have an autocross school that is women-based, sometimes with no men allowed on site. A lot of regions are starting to do social gatherings. They’ll have a monthly get-together with the ladies from the region. They’re just trying to have more camaraderie amongst themselves and they can come up with their own ideas to get more people involved.” Another thing regions are trying is recruiting women from non-motorsports-oriented venues.
At the SCCA Solo National Championships last month, the second iteration of the ladies luncheon was held. Johns says she saw significant growth, more enthusiasm and, perhaps most importantly, the presence of more than 20 women who were first-timers at the Solo Nationals. At the lunch, people broke away for brainstorming sessions.
Johns says the next step is to keep spreading the word. The committee recently had a conference call with SCCA President Mike Cobb to see where things might go.
“We need some more backing from the SCCA, some more exposure,” Johns says. “There are certainly some bigger and better things we want to do now that we’ve got our foot in the water. Ultimately, it’s to spread the word and get more women involved. We’ve got to have more people on the ground pushing this to try to get more ladies into it. We’re trying to learn from what we’ve taken on so far, and grow that even further.”
To see the SCCA Women on Track Facebook page, click here.