Transgender Driver Charlie Martin Seeks to Compete in Le Mans 24 Hours

She would make history by doing so

Charlie Martin
Charlie Martin racing earlier this year.
MrPaperwings/Creative Commons
By Tobias Carroll / November 23, 2019 12:37 pm

Ever since she was young, driver Charlie Martin has wanted to compete at Le Mans. In a 2018 interview with The Telegraph, she spoke about the race’s appeal. “You think of the famous drivers that have been there and the film with Steve McQueen,” she said. “With that impression, I was determined to devote myself to racing.”

Martin is one of a handful of transgender race car drivers around the world. Terri O’Connell’s memoir Dangerous Curves includes a discussion of her time racing in the NASCAR circuit. And, as the article in The Telegraph notes, some of the races where Martin needs to compete take place in countries that aren’t remotely welcoming (to put it mildly) to anyone who’s transgender.

A new article in The Guardian caught up with Martin and discussed her efforts to compete at Le Mans. “The 38-year-old started this season racing in the Michelin Le Mans Cup but as with so many others, a lack of funding forced her out,” writes Giles Richards. “Yet she remains as determined as ever.”

Next up for Martin: spending 2020 competing in an endurance racing series. Her career in auto racing has been characterized by a resourcefulness and determination: her earliest forays in racing were self-funded, with a car she restored on her own.

Martin is also taking part in Stonewall’s Sport Champions initiative. Her page there hails her for, among other things, “successfully [asking] all the drivers in the 2018 British GT Championship to run PRIDE stickers on their cars at Silverstone last June.” In Martin’s case, it’s not just that her story is inspiring — it’s the number of ways in which it is. 

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