Speed Racer

Queer racer Charlie Martin talks living out and proud in the VERY fast lane

This post is part of a series of Queerty interviews with models, trainers, athletes, dancers, and, well, people who inspire us to stay in shape–0r just sit on the couch ogling them instead.

Name: Charlie Martin, 37

City: Leicestershire, UK

Do you have any job besides being a race car driver? I’m also a motivational speaker, I regularly talk about my life experience as a trans woman and what it’s been like in motorsport. It’s something I’m passionate about, I’m proud to be a Stonewall Sports Champion and a big part of my work focuses on using my platform to create positive change in my sport and the wider world.

What do you do to stay in good physical shape for driving?  I run off-road to build stamina, as well as train in the gym doing things like cardio, functional strength and interval training. Trail running is a big love in my life; last year I ran the Hardergrat Trail in Switzerland, it was 28km with 2,400m of constant climbing (in 9hrs). I also surf & snowboard whenever I can – most of my holidays are surf trips. Endurance racing requires huge amounts of concentration as we’re in the car for hours at a time, so this kind of training all goes towards the goal of getting me to the 24hrs of Le Mans.

Do you have a favorite gym? My local gym is the Training Shed, but I also go to Ape Index for fun which is a Ninja Warrior-type of gym with climbing walls and all kinds of amazing obstacles – they helped me get to the semifinals on Ninja Warrior UK !

Do you have a favorite exercise playlist? I have a pretty eclectic taste in music, but in the gym I go for a mix of electronic and rock, it gets my energy levels going so I give it 100%.

What about for driving? Before I get in the car I put on a set of noise canceling headphones and crank up some electronic music. I find its best as I can focus intensely on driving a lap and what I’m going to do without it distracting me, but it also helps me get my game face on.

Related: New York trainer Branden Hayward on how a stuffed bunny got on his bedside table

What’s the best food to eat prior to a race? For breakfast, ideally, I’ll have a smoothie that I make with berries, soy yogurt and granola on top, this keeps me going well into the day. Then I might have some salad and pasta at lunch, but just a light portion so I don’t nod off. I always have a big bag of dried fruit and nuts handy as I find they give me the best slow burn energy – grazing works well for me. I know some drivers who struggle to eat when they race, but I don’t have that problem!

As a woman in a notoriously macho sport, have you encountered any resistance to your participation? I’d say it’s been largely a positive experience, but inevitably I’ve encountered some outdated views and chauvinistic behavior at times. It’s probably on a par with life outside of motorsport though, I think most people these days are keen to see more women coming into the sport. When I was racing in France people thought it was amazing that I’d come over to race all on my own, I speak fluent French, too, so that was an incredibly positive experience.

What about as an out-transgender woman? It’s been tough at times, especially the first couple of seasons going back to the sport… I’ve suffered discrimination at times, and it’s forced me to be brave. Nonetheless, I’ve had some amazing support, and I think now that more people are hearing about my story, it’s hopefully paving the way for other members of the LGBTQ+ community in motorsport.

How do you balance preparing for a race and having fun? Trail running is fun for me, I find it relaxes my mind and I make the effort to visit beautiful places as often as I can. Meditation has become really important to me in the last 12 months too, I guess I’m always on the go so winding down can be tricky. In an ideal world, I’d live by the sea so I can surf more (working on that one), and there’s always seeing friends too of course.

What’s a basic, if useful, health and fitness tip you can offer? Set yourself a goal or a challenge, like entering a 10k or something like that. It’s easy to lose motivation when you’re just training for the sake of training, but when you have an objective and a deadline it becomes way more exciting, you’ll look for new ways to improve and build towards your goal.

What do you keep on your nightstand? A big glass of water, some crystals, foot balm (my feet work hard!), a plastic unicorn that glows all of the Pride colors (from the Attitude Awards) and a copy of Talk like Ted.

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Feeling proud to attend No.10 Downing Street as @stonewalluk Sports Champion for part of the government’s Pride celebrations yesterday ?????? . I took a letter explaining the difficulties facing the Trans community in the UK right now, it’s vital to use any opportunity to engage and keep pushing for progress ???? . With GIC waiting lists running at 2-3yrs and dramatic increases in trans hate crimes (81%) reported in the last 12 months, there is a lot of work to do… I’m determined to use my platform to create awareness & push for change ?? . . . ? @elliot.vaughn #bethechange #pride #pridemonth #stonewall #lgbtrights #transrights #transrightsarehumanrights #thisiswhattranslookslike #translivesmatter #transgender #gocharlie #girlracer #endurogirl #downingstreet #10downingstreet #bethechangeyouwanttosee #believeinyourself #bethebestyou #comeoutfortransequality #comeoutforlgbt #athleteally #araihelmet #liquidcolourdesign #facialteam

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Feeling proud to be speaking with @andy.jaye at Silverstone for the launch of @racingprideuk during @british_gt ??????? . Exactly one year on, so much has happened since I ran the Pride sticker campaign here in 2018. The idea was simple but effective, a World first in motorsport that was shared on 35 news websites like Sky, BBC, ESPN & CNN ?? . It was about showing the impact that visibility can have, when everyone stands united to show their support & acceptance of the LGBT community ??????? . When I came out in March 2018, it was leap of faith, because I had no idea how people would react in motorsport. The support was amazing, and that’s what Racing Pride is all about – creating a more inclusive environment where everyone feels free to be their true self, whether they’re a driver, fan, marshall, engineer… everyone should feel able to live authentically, in sport & life ?? . Visibility can be the key to creating positive change, and so this weekend feels like an important step on the way to making that happen ?? . . . #racingpride #pridemonth #prideinsport #diversity #diversityandinclusion #transgender #thisiswhattranslookslike #keeppushing #lovewins #lgbt #acceptance #motorsport #britishgt #silverstone #gocharlie #girlracer #endurogirl #bethebestyou #bethechange

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One last session @cranfieldsimulation today before the first race of the season ?? . I had a chance to check out one of their flight sims, sorry but couldn’t resist a photo with my Arai! My earliest ambition was to be a fighter pilot, so it seems kind of fitting to have found my way into race cars ? = ? . Cranfield Simulation began as a department of Cranfield Aerospace over 30yrs ago, supplying 130 systems for aircraft such as the Typhoon, Tornado, F-18, F-16 & Harrier. Their experience with G-cueing technology & VR means their motorsport sims are some of the most realistic you’ll find ??? . . . #cranfieldsimulation #simulator #flightsimulator #simracer #esports #geekgirl #gocharlie #endurogirl #trainingday #timetofly #ejectorseat #fighterpilot #champion #araihelmet #nkgsparkplugs #liquidcolourdesign #aimhighdreambig #dreambig #keeppushing #vr #dreamscometrue #bethebestyou #allsystemsgo

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