Channel 4’s W Series presenter Lee McKenzie says she was initially skeptical about the series when she was first approached by former Formula One driver David Coulthard and W Series owner Sean Wadsworth when they went out for dinner in Barcelona in 2019 where they discussed the series and asked what she thought.
Speaking to Paddock Eye as the W Series prepares for their final race of the 2019 championship, Lee said that she wasn’t quite sure if men and women should be segregated but that it was a very sketchy idea at that time and she still wasn’t sure whether she should do it or not having cut back on her F1 and wasn’t envisaging travelling to motor racing.
Lee revealed that she used to work in DTM and thought to herself, oh that schedule again. She traveled to Ammaria to watch the W Series for three days to watch testing and sat with W Series race director Dave Ryan and spoke to some of the drivers some of who she knew already and the more she learnt about the series the more she realized there is a need for it.
Lee realized when she saw who was involved in the series, everyone from Catherine Bond Muir, Dave Ryan, David Coulthard and Whisper Films who do the TV work she knew it was going to be something special and she spent a lot of time learning about it. She said it wasn’t about the work and that she wasn’t looking to be travelling again.
She is really happy she decided to get involved as the racing speaks volumes and that is what it needs to be judged on and not on who is in the car. When asked whether she would like to see W Series championship leader and Williams development driver Jamie Chadwick racing in Formula One Lee said she knows there is a lot of focus on that and what she wants to see is women involved in all top level motorsport.
Lee who was working at the 24 Hour of LeMans with Aston Martin said there were female drivers there and she wants to see more female representation in the sport and doesn’t care if its Formula One, WEC, Formula E, DTM or the NTT IndyCar Series but that it has to be for the right reasons and that someone has to have that talent otherwise you undo all the good that been done over the years.
Lee believes that the quality of racing in the W Series has been fantastic and she believes if you put the Channel 4 coverage on or wherever you are watching without knowing about the sport you would say wow there is some great quality racing and that when the driver takes their helmet you think wow that was a woman as the racing has to be the thing that everyone is judged on, not whether there a male or female. it’s got to be the quality of racing and that’s the thing that has made her most proud and happy that it has just been a really good product.
The DTM has a great calendar and it goes to real old school race tracks where going off has consequences and Lee thinks that the tracks that we got by supporting DTM has made the W Series the product it is. She said that if we were tanking around Paul Ricard it would not be all that but the fact that we go to proper old school race tracks makes her happy. Lee revealed she loves DTM, she loves the calendar and that was a big draw for her as well.
I asked Lee how she got involved in motorsport and she said that her dad was a fleet street journalist and knew Bernie Ecclestone and she started attending different sporting events and got into it that way and she said that in order to get into the sport from that point of view it is about who you know and that you need to be good at what you do otherwise you won’t last.
She said she just wants to be the best. She doesn’t care about being a woman on TV or in sport as she sees the bigger picture but she said it is great when girls come up to speak to her on stage particularly at events like this as there is a different focus.