The Inaugural Women of Australian Motor Sport (WAMS) Officials Exchange Program sent Michelle Luke to the Formula 1® Singapore Grand Prix last month for a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Congratulations Michelle on being a great ambassador for women in motor sport, and we hope the experience has enriched your passion to continue striving within officiating in Australian motor sport.Working in various officiating roles alongside other Singaporean women, it was a cultural experience that this 44 mother from Sydney will never forget.
Here is Michelle’s Singapore diary exclusively for WAMS readers:
DAY 1 – 18/9/2013
My Journey started with a long flight from Sydney to Singapore, my first trip on the enormous Singapore Airlines A380 for what will be my first time working in motor sport overseas. When we got to Singapore, our daily trips to the track were a great way to get to know the other CAMS officials and enjoy the usual motor sport camaraderie. Today we picked up our accreditation and had our first seniors briefing from the Clerk Of Course Gabriel Tan and Assistant Clerk Of Course, Janette Tan, which was very fast paced and informative.
I also had the good fortune to meet the ever delightful winner of the WAMS Inaugural Exchange programme, Nurulaini (Nurul) Araffin. Part of my schedule as an official at the event was to spend two days with Nurul as a Flag Official at her post (Sector 8 Left, as in Drivers Left). After our briefing, Nurul, her deputy and I headed off to do a track walk from the Officials muster area to Sector 8, where we inspected the track, checked the line of sight to our prior and after flag posts, confirmed that the equipment list corresponded with what was in our lockable cage, and discussed possible scenarios/plans, racing lines and our hand signals with CAMS Sectors. After a brief stop at a Popsicle stand to beat the heat and humidity – it can get to 90% humidity in Singapore! – we returned to the Muster shed and awaited the Officials welcome dinner. It was worthy of a high end hotel spre
ad, with a variety of Asian dishes including soups, noodles, chicken dishes, rice and a few enticing desserts. It was indeed a “welcome dinner”. We completed the day with another seniors’ briefing and recap on what was found at our posts during the afternoon.
DAY 2 – 19/9/2013
Today I caught the MRT (Singapore’s underground rail system, and the cleanest, most efficient computerised system I had come across), to the GP track with WAMS committee member Jodi and some Sri Lankan officials why were undergoing CAMS training at this event.
We received our final officials pack today which included a bum bag with so many useful items for an official: gloves, a recyclable rain coat, Aloe Vera cream, sun block, a packet of anti-bacterial hand wipes, protective eye wear that was for night/day and a plastic whistle with lanyard. This was a great incentive and very useful, and would make me want to go back to this event in the future. These items were delivered in a thick durable plastic drawstring bag, which could also double as a rain-proof bag to store your race bag in if the weather became unpredictable – very thoughtful.
Seniors briefing #3 followed. The Singaporeans speak very quickly and I am listening intently to catch their “Singlish” – which is English spoken at warp speed!
One of the highlights of the trip was the Women in Motor Sport Event at Command House, located in picturesque grounds overlooking Singapore. Guest Speakers were Susie Wolff (Development Driver for Williams F1 Team) and Claire Williams (Deputy Team Principal for Williams F1). Susie told us that since she had started racing karts at a young age, she was brought up to think it was normal for her to be a competitive female in what is considered a predominately male sport. It was only at age 14 that she came to realise the challenges she was up against. This didn’t deter her from her goal, to become a Formula 1 driver. Susie was an enthusiastic, motivating, passionate and consummate professional who all women in motor sport could look to for inspiration. She added that women need to offer a supportive network to each other to promote ourselves within the sport and should be something we all take on board and work towards. Claire (one of Sir Frank Williams’ children) was told from an early age to not expect to be working in the business in any way, shape or form. Her University background in politics has assisted her in negotiating her way around the F1 arena. Claire works hard to maintain her position in the team in a constantly challenging environment, where few women operate at such a high level. This doesn’t stop her, nor does she let this alter how she conducts herself or reaches her goals. Both of the ladies said “anything is possible if you set your mind to it” and I agree.