Working as a journalist and pitlane reporter in motorsport can be hard work, especially when you are in the heart of the action. Dakota Jane predominately works in the Blancpain GT series and spends her weekends running up and down the pitlane and leaves the track in the evening filthy after getting up close with the drivers, teams and cars. So, I asked her about her role in the series and the reasons behind her passion for motorsport.
Having grown up in Monaco, Dakota said she “lived and breathed motorsport” before she even acknowledged her ambition to work in the field. Her parents being fond motorsport fans, but not actually in the business, attended many Grands Prix and Rallies with her as a child, meaning her first experience of the sport was at a very young age.
But the story behind how she actually ended up working in the sport is quite an unusual one in that she applied for a job that didn’t exist. “I knew my now-boss ran the television production for SRO motorsport. I took a stab in the dark and I sent him a video interview of myself,” she explained. “I shared with him my passion for cars and all things motorsport as well as my upbringing and ambitions.” He replied, inviting her to a race weekend. As instructed, Dakota attended her first Blancpain GT race at Brands Hatch in 2016 where she was thrown into the deep end of live TV. After her first live interview with circuit owner Jonathan Palmer, she became a part of the television crew. “Since that day, I have worked there ever since,” she said.
The Blancpain GT series may be unknown to some, but for Dakota, it’s one of the most exciting series in motorsport. “I would say it’s the highest level of GT racing in the world. We have four classes, PRO, PRO-AM, AM and Silver Cup, all classes are as competitive as the other. We have 10 races a season, spilt into endurance and sprint races,” the pitlane reporter explained. She not only works on Blancpain GT but also for the support races such as Lamborghini Super Trofeo.
Although her job may sound similar to F1 presenters, she was keen to explain the differences. “I don’t just do the presenting for the series, but I also help produce the entire programme from top stories to all the action in the pitlane,” she told me. “When I am not interviewing on the grid or at parc fermé, I floor manage for my co-presenter/commentator John Watson. This consists of setting up the next interview with the drivers, cars and teams so that the live programme can run smoothly.”
Another reason Dakota Jane loves her role with Blancpain GT so much is the high level of competition between a broad range of manufacturers and drivers. “What makes me want to go back every season is the nail biting competition. There are so many good drivers in the series, the Blancpain GT grid is truly spectacular,” she said, adding: “in qualifying it’s not surprising to have 1st to 20th place within 0.5 of a second!”
Many of those who start working in motorsport have an ultimate aim of moving up the series to Formula One. Although she said she would love to work in the series, Dakota really enjoys the freedom and cars in GT racing. “There’s so much action and I don’t really like how in F1 there are so many rules,” she said. Her ambition is to work at some of the other big GT racing events such as the Le Mans 24 hours, Daytona 24hours, FIA Macau GT World Cup and the Super GT series in Japan. She is also keen to one day branch out and present in other global sports such as the Olympics and Para-Olympics, as well as Red Bull events.
But it’s not just reporting on racing that she enjoys, with her also driving herself. “I would like to get more involved in the driving part of the sport,” she told me. “I love driving, there’s a secret racing driver inside, but its not really a secret. Before I do a race, I do all the sim (simulator) work for that track. I learn all the corners, breaking points and stats. I think it helps me when I’m interviewing, I can really put myself in the driver’s shoes. I have a lot of respect for them and what they go through on a race weekend.”
As a female working in motorsport, Dakota Jane felt it was important to be a part of the initiative ‘Dare to be Different’. Talking about the number of women in the series, she explained: “in my television team, I work with a majority of men and occasionally another female, I don’t mind at all, the men do not segregate me but include me as part of the team like anyone else. In Blancpain GT there are other women who work in the offices, pitlane, grid, garages and with the teams. This is not a huge amount really, it is definitely male dominated but this fact shouldn’t discourage women from joining the sport.”
To finish, she gave her advice for those females wanting to work in the industry. “Don’t be discouraged by men,” Dakota advised. “To any woman who is trying to pursue a career in motorsport, I would say you have just as fair chance as the men do, go for it and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! I don’t really feel like it comes down to the gender most of the time. I just personally don’t think there are as many women who are in general interested in motorsport, but maybe with organisations such as ‘Dare to be Different’, this will change.”
Being young and already working in a prestigious series of motorsport means Dakota Jane has her eyes firmly set on the future. Working in the Blancpain GT series means she has to deal with constantly changing situations, a part of the job that she loves. She has had a passion and ambition to work in motorsport since her youth, and hopes this desire and success will continue long into the future.
(heading picture credit: Blancpain GT series)