NASCAR and MotorSports – From a Queer Perspective

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Interview: Pippa Mann – IZOD Indycar Series Driver

I had a chance to chat with IZOD Indycar Series driver and 2011 Indianapolis 500 racer Pippa Mann.  Currently, Pippa is scheduled to participate in the upcoming Kentucky Indy 300 (the site of her 2010 Indy Lights victory) on October 2nd as well as the IZOD Indycar World Championship race in Las Vegas on October 16th in the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing #30 sponsored by Service Central.  Pippa is one of the most fan-friendly drivers in the paddock actively interacting with fans via Twitter and Facebook daily.  Pippa was a awesome to chat with, and we at Queers 4 Gears wish her the best of luck and a full time ride in 2012!  Enjoy!

Photo via www.PippaMann.com


Q:  First off, how is your back feeling?  

PM:  Umm it’s doing pretty well.  I have a doctors appointment tomorrow (September 7th) and should be cleared on Monday.  They said it would be a 4-6 week recovery.  Monday will be 4 weeks.  It looks promising. (ED:  Pippa reported via Twitter she has been cleared to drive at Kentucky.)

Q:  What is the appropriate underwear for race day?  Does Victorias Secret make fireproof underwear? 

PM:  (laughs) Underneath the fire suits, the guys and girls have to wear Nomex long-johns, and under that you have regular underwear.  And, as I learned at New Hampshire, it should always be something modest because as a racecar driver you never know when you may unexpectedly have to show it to someone! But, that only gets shown in the emergency room!

Q:  (Twitter Question via @tonytellez) You’ve Tweeted about it several times, why does your hair turn green?  

PM:  Something is in the water…not sure what it is!  It used to be swimming and chlorine…that was the easiest way to turn it green, but there is something in the water here in America that turns it green.  I have tried everything…rinsing it with beer…I was told to rub ketchup in it…I’ve spent a fortune on specialty shampoos…I typically have to go every 3 weeks to the salon to get a treatment to keep it blonde.

Q:  (Twitter Question via @aka_robyn)  In regards to F1, do you feel it is a particularly unwelcoming environment for women?  

PM:  I actually think that is a good point.  It is extremely difficult to further a career as a female in Europe.  I’ve had great opportunities and tests, but for a lot of teams, the reaction seems to be, “We like you and think you’d be great, but we aren’t sure about having a girl on the team.”  In the states, at times, it has gone the other way, but I enjoy that fact.  Right now though it is pretty even due to the amount of women trying to make it. I don’t want to get somewhere just because I’m a girl, but I have no problem getting there and being a girl.

Q:  Name one song you’d be embarrassed to admit you dance around your house to? 

PM:  There’s about a hundred!  Top of the list…cheesy songs like Journey “Don’t Stop Believing”, Bon Jovi “Living On A Prayer”, “Wild One” by Roy Orbison…I have a hairbrush that I use as a microphone for that one!  But when I’m alone…I’ll just say that I grew up when boy bands were really popular…lets leave it at that (laughs)!

Q:  What about gay fans in Indycar?  Have you had very much interaction with any ?  

PM:  Not really…I don’t have a really good gaydar. Most of the fans have just been really pleasant.   I’ve been really enjoying the fans in the states…I haven’t had anyone in a pink sparkly shirt to give me a hug if that’s not taking the stereotype too far (laughs)! My gaydar is fairly non-existent!

Q:  What is your most embarrassing moment at a racetrack?  

PM:  Good question…I really don’t know.  I’m fairly clumsy. I’ve fallen in front of people and the team a fair amount of times. At Indy I had flip-flops on while it was raining one day and stepped on the slippy surface of the engineering room and fell flat on my back!

Q:  What are your thoughts on Danica?  Do you think her leaving will allow others like yourself more opportunity to have some of the spotlight? 

PM:  To me personally it doesn’t bother me.  I get asked about Danica a lot.  But, If I were a Scottish it would be Dario.  I’ll point out, I’ve listened to her scanner in a couple of NASCAR races, and have seen others comments that have listened to her, and it just sounds like she’s having fun there.  I think that is a really good reason for making a switch.  For Indycar, I do hope it will allow other drivers to get the spotlight.  I think it’s great GoDaddy is staying with Andretti Autosport.  It is another car with sponsorship for another driver…which is a very cool thing.  There’s Graham Rahal, Charlie Kimball, Hinch, JR Hildebrand, Simona, Ana, myself…I think the series has a lot of potential for new story lines and faces.

Q:  You like shoes…who is your favorite designer? 

PM:  I have extremely expensive tastes! It’s terrible!  Jimmy Choo’s are my favorite and I can’t afford them unless they are second hand or from eBay.  I spend lot of time in DSW and often times have buyers remorse, especially when I come home and see the prices on on-line and on eBay!

Photo via www.PippaMann.com

Q:  Girl talk question, Who do you think is the hottest driver, as far as looks, in Indycar? 

PM:  To be honest, I’ve never really looked at other drivers in that light.  I think it’s because I’m competing against them.  It’s just something that has never really crossed my mind.

Q:  You train with other drivers at PitFit Training.  How is that environment and does that foster friendships or make it strange to compete against those people on raceday?  

PM:  You are rarely training with more than 1 or 2 other people in the mornings. I would say it helps us form friendships on and off the track…you race everyone hard and clean.  I think it is a benefit.  It is kinda cool because it is spread out over all the series.  I really enjoy the environment.  Recently, it helped me get to know another female driver, Tatiana Calderon, who races in the Star Mazda series, and I really think she’s really cool.

Q:  Any positive progress on 2012 yet?  

PM:  You know, the honest answer…I took a big hit 4 weeks ago, and with the timing of that and the pressure to get deals done for 2012, it was really unfortunate timing.  It was the old 2 steps forward, 1 step back.  I really want to be out there full time.  It is asking a lot for sponsor to look past the hit and that I only have 2 races under my belt.  My next race still isn’t for another 3 weeks, so I have a while before I can get out there and set the course right.  The main issue is that it was really bad timing..that’s what is the hardest part.  It’s not the torn up car because that can be fixed and the team knew I was giving it my all and that we weren’t on point, not the injury, not the indignity of crashing because it’s always going to happen in a career, especially in oval racing…it’s just the timing.

Q:  What is something you’d like to talk about or mention that you are never asked in interviews?

PM:  (silence)….It’s been a while since I’ve been thrown so that’s a good one. I want to emphasize that I want to be out there full time in 2012.  I’m really working towards and doing everything I can to make it happen.  I know it’s a boring answer, but it is the most important, omnipresent factor in my life right now.  It is the last thing I think about at night and first thing in the morning every morning.

Pippa at the Indianapolis 500 - Photo via www.PippaMann.com

Category: gay, Indy Car - IRL