The Official Race Queen Story
(レースクイーン, rēsu kuīn?) is a Japanese term for a type of promotional model found as part of a pit crew in certain kinds of motor racing, such as Motorcycle Races and F1 races. The
equivalent British term is "Pit babe".
The first usage of promotional models in motor races was during the late 1960s when model Rosa Ogawa (小 川ローザ) was brought in to represent the race winners. It was then that the term race queen was coined. Prior to that, women in motor races were mostly wives and girlfriends of drivers and staff, with the exception of some who were drivers.
In 1983, the sun tan lotion company Hawaiian Tropic sponsored the 24 hours of Le Mans. The company brought its models over from the United States to appear on the racetrack before the race began. These models wore bikinis bearing the company's name. A year later, that practice was imported over to Japan for the Suzuka 8 Hours motorcycle race.
The official job of a race queen is to hold an umbrella over the driver of a Formula 1 car or the rider of a motorcycle. They generally wear some sort of revealing costume (mini-dress, swimsuit, hot pants, or the like), as well as pantyhose and high heels or knee-high boots. Campaign girls in other countries are generally looked down upon as the occupation is regarded as "low profile" or disgraceful. However, in Japan, race queens have a higher profile and are regarded as idols varying only by the motor sport event they appear in.
The average age for these girls is late teens to early twenties and demand for them wanes with age. Some go on to become models or even actresses but those who are unable to leverage their career into something larger. It is not unusual for some of them to have a background in or a sideline career as a gravure idol.
Race Queens who operate in prestigious events and with a large fanbase can also be found at automobile shows purely to draw crowds where they are nearly as important an attraction as the cars or electronics products that they are promoting.
There is a magazine dedicated to them called Gals Paradise.
The models, referred as "grid/pit girls" in Europe, are very common in many series worldwide, but are mostly banned in the United States due to the reasons of being associated with sexism, as many drivers' wives, in addition to women race officials, team public relations staff, members of the media, and in some cases mechanics or drivers are prevalent in the paddocks, notably Kimberly Lopez-Johnson, the Chief Starter in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and inspector in all three national series. Furthermore, because of the manner of dress of these models, insurance companies (Indianapolis 500 driver Larry Rice later became an insurance agent who specialises in motorsport insurance) regard the models as a safety hazard because of stringent dress codes imposed in the garage and pit areas by many sanctioning bodies; in New Jersey, the stringent dress codes effectively ban the models. In DTM and some other events, organizers have started to recruit male models as in startlines, mostly on female drivers' cars.
The term is also used outside of Japan in South Korea, China and other Asian nations. The Korean term for a race queen is a "racing model" (레이싱모델). Racing models appear in motor shows and racing events. In Thailand they are known as "pretties" and they are used extensively at events ranging from the Bangkok International Motor Shows to minor events such as openings of shopping centers. There are businesses dedicated to recruiting and providing pretties for events, classifying them into several categories according to skills and experience. A pretty-presenter does product presentations; a pretty-dancer is part of a dance group at a manufacturer's booth; a plain pretty just stands and hands out promotional materials. Wages are lucrative for the most attractive and experienced pretties, several times what they would normally earn in an office job.
Paddock girls (or Umbrella girls) is a term that has been used in professional motorcycle racing for many years. It refers to females employed to hold umbrellas above racers to protect them from the sun. Before the start of a race (either SuperBike Championships or MotoGP), the riders have to pull up onto their grid and wait for all the other racers to take their places on the line. The riders stand on the grid until all pre-race checks, adjustments and fueling have been completed. This process can take several hours. Preferred racing weather is over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and this together with the heavily padded fire proof racing attire can make the wait on the grid a very uncomfortable experience. To prevent the riders suffering from fatigue and heat stroke, the sponsors hire paddock girls to hold umbrellas for the racers whenever they are in the sun.
Trade show models work a trade show floorspace or booth, and represent a company to attendees. Trade show models are typically not regular employees of the company, but are freelancers hired by the company renting the booth space. They are hired for several reasons. Trade show models make a company's booth more visibly distinguishable from the hundreds of other booths with which it competes for attendee attention. Also, trade show models are articulate and quickly learn and explain or disseminate information on the company and its product and service, and can assist a company in handling a large number of attendees which the company might otherwise not have enough employees to accommodate, therefore increasing the number of sales or leads resulting from participation in the show. Trade show models can be skilled at drawing attendees into the booth, engaging them in conversation, and at spurring interest in the product, service, or company. Trade show models may be highly skilled at screening the mass of show attendees for target consumers or at obtaining attendee information so that they may be solicited after the show. The slang term 'Booth Babe' has occasionally been used to refer to a trade show model. The term focuses on physical appearance, or specifically on wardrobe, which, depending on the type of trade show, can be thematic or sexy. Girls that work at a car show or similar event are often called 'car show girls', 'race queens', 'pit babes' or in a non-colloquial term, paddock girls.
A Promotional model is a person hired to drive consumer demand for a product, service, brand, or concept by directly interacting with
potential consumers. A promotional model can be female or male, and typically is intended to be attractive in physical appearance. They serve to provide information about the product or service and
make it appealing to consumers. While the length of interaction may be short, the promotional model delivers a live experience that reflects on the product or service he or she is representing.
The influence of this type of marketing may be more enduring.
Promotional models often interact with many people at once to maximize quantitative influence on consumer demand. The responsibilities of the promotional model depend on the particular marketing
campaign being carrying out, and may include:
• Increasing product awareness
• Providing product information
• Creating an association in the consumer's mind between the product or brand and a particular idea (natural beauty, classic heritage, edgy sex appeal, reliability)
• Handing items to consumers, such as a sample of the product itself, a small gift, or printed information
Marketing campaigns that make use of promotional models may take place in stores or shopping malls, at tradeshows, special promotional events, clubs, or even at outdoor public spaces. They are often planned at high traffic locations to reach as many consumers as possible, or at venues at which a particular type of target consumer is expected to be present.
A Car Show model is an assistant that works with a company's sales representatives at a trade show exhibit. They are used to draw in attendees and provide them with basic information about product or services. Convention models may be used to distribute marketing materials or gather customer information for future promotions.
I would like to define in a way what and why the Race Queen is to the common person. First everyone knows going to see a race only to see a revolving blur of color and sound is missing the full experience. There is proof if anybody has gone to a football game and wondered where the Cheerleaders are or watching a movie without the sound effects played. The Race Queens are a beautiful group of people adding the cherry on top of what otherwise is an ordinary banana split. So the next time you go to a race and are able to say thank you, do it. A race would not be the same without them. Thank you.