Athletes Unlimited raises $30 million in new funding
AU has had a big year.
The W Series took Manhattan by storm Monday, with the PUMA team arriving at the brand’s flagship store on 5th avenue in a tour bus emblazoned with the driver’s faces.
Marta Garcia, Gosia Rdest, Abbi Pulling, Caitlin Wood, and Naomi Schiff make up the Puma W Series team, an all-female racing championship established in 2019.
The drivers gathered at the New York storefront to celebrate the She Move US campaign, PUMA’s platform that supports women who progress sport and culture forward and inspire others to do the same. The W Series certainly fits that mission, pushing motorsport to be more inclusive through its format of a free-to-enter championship and mechanically-identical cars.
“W series started in 2019 and we didn’t have a team structure at the time, so the introduction of the teams has really been a great addition,” said Schiff, “and I think we are all really lucky to be a part of the Puma team because they really engage with us and help us to raise our profiles, so I’m extremely happy to be a part of this team.”
The PUMA drivers greeted fans who lined up to see the team on the third floor of the brand’s brick and mortar, signing autographs and snapping pictures next to the store’s racing suit display. The six-event racing championship has grown in popularity in its first two seasons, with brands like PUMA putting their women’s motorsport athletes front and center of their campaigns.
“It’s just really cool it’s giving us some more visibility as drivers,” said Garcia of the PUMA event. “I think it’s just really good, and I think it’s the best team to be actually in W Series.”
After meeting with the crowd gathered at the back of the PUMA store, it was time to take the driving simulators for a spin. The 5th Avenue flagship is outfitted with two F1 driving simulators, mounted on hydraulics ahead of a large screen projector, part of PUMA’s racing display. Garcia took the car for a drive first, with fans eventually able to scan their race ticket and race the W Series driver.
Formula One, the pinnacle of racing, is what most of the women in the W Series aspire to, including Garcia, who calls it her “ultimate goal.” The championship, however, has many barriers to entry, one being the necessity of hefty financial backings. The W Series hopes to make the path to F1 glory, and motorsport in general, more accessible, especially for women.
Jamie Chadwick, the reigning W Series Champion, is an example of that, signing with the F1 team Williams Racing as a Development Driver, a move Schiff cites as an exciting sign of progress for the new racing championship.
As for Schiff, she says she is at a bit of a crossroads, sitting on PUMA’s reserve roster but also presenting for the team this season.
“I think either way, being a part of W series in either role allows me to inspire younger generations and inspire girls so as much time as I can spend behind the screen, doing events like this, it helps us to inspire those generations,” said Schiff, “so that’s what I hope for the future, to be able to inspire more girls and to see more women entering the sport.”
The W Series heads to Austin on Friday for the Circuit of the Americas, with qualifying airing from 5:30-6:00 p.m. ET on beIN SPORTS, and the race broadcast on Saturday from 6:25-6:59 p.m. ET.
AU has had a big year.
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