Grid girls on way out after re-think by NW200 bosses

Models promoting a previous North West 200. Photo: Pacemaker
Models promoting a previous North West 200. Photo: Pacemaker

The use of promotional female models to add glamour to the North West 200 starting grid will be reviewed ahead of this year’s event, race organisers have said.

News of the re-think follows confirmation that Formula 1 will no longer use ‘grid girls’ when the 2018 season gets under way.

The NW200 is one of Northern Ireland’s largest sporting events with crowds of more than 100,000 flocking to the north coast for the road racing festival every May.

Race Director Mervyn Whyte said he was surprised to learn of the move by Formula 1 bosses, and said the grid girls have been “part and parcel” of the NW200 for many years.

“It is something we will look at, something we will review,” he told BBC Radio Foyle.

Mr White said the girls were primarily used to highlight the branding of the race sponsors and the bike manufacturers’ logos.

“If we feel that it is no longer appropriate, we will make changes in relation to the North West 200,” he added.

Christian Iddon, a British Superbike racer with TYCO BMW, described the decision as “daft”.

He tweeted: “I rarely voice an opinion but this grid girl ban thing is just daft. Calling it degrading? They get paid to do a job as does every profession. Some do it for free because they love it. Everyone has a choice. My mum holds my brolly so am I disrespecting her? Be wise people!”

Reacting to the ban on Formula 1 grid girls, World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea tweeted a picture of himself on the a race grid holding an umbrella over a Kawasaki teammate.

He added the message: “Demand gonna be high. Preparing my CV as we speak!”

In an Instagram message posted on the Spearmint Rhino Grid Girls Facebook page, grid girl Stephanie Leanne Hall said: “We are paid to do a job and there is no job where I have felt uncomfortable or demeaned in any way.

“Clients provide us with outfits that they feel are appropriate to represent their brand and to stand out to get noticed...classic marketing.”

Ms Hall added: “I enjoy it and for all those saying it’s not good for young girls to be seeing women in these roles then my goodness! My daughter is 9 and I’d love her to do my job. None of us have had work handed to us on a plate. We all have a brain and use it well. No way are we objects. I will not be told what I can and cannot do.”

Reacting to news of the Formula 1 decision, one grid girl tweeted: “I LOVE my job and I CHOOSE to do it! I will be devastated if @OfficialBSB and @iom_tt follow suit.”