In the second instalment of the Racing Pride Spotlight interview series, young transgender journalist Caitlin Penny talks with Racing Pride Industry Ambassador Josh Bennett. Caitlin writes:
Josh Bennett is a motorsport official and Clerk of the Course for race and rallycross events. He has worked primarily for the BARC but is also the competition secretary for the Lydden Hill Motorsport Club. He describes his greatest achievements as earning his race and rallycross clerking licenses at a young age and working on the organising committee for the World Rallycross event at Lydden Hill in 2017. I caught up with him recently so you can get to know him a little bit better.
“I started in motorsport through my Dad who was the medical centre manager at our local circuit, Lydden Hill” explained Josh.
“I grew up at Lydden, initially running things to and from race control. As I grew older, I began to take on other jobs, and once I completed my schooling I went and studied event management at Canterbury Christ Church University. Following this, I then went off to work at an animal charity for a year during which time I became a trainee clerk of the course with BARC. After the year at the animal charity, I effectively returned home having been offered a full-time job back at Lydden Hill. I eventually worked my way up to ‘Event Operations Manager’, and was involved in the organisation of the 2017 World Rallycross event. I’ve combined this with my clerking with BARC and I am now a fully qualified Race and Rallycross Clerk of the Course. In March this year I left Lydden and I am currently working freelance for a driving experience company across the UK. I still attend a number of meetings with BARC as an active Clerk of the Course.”
Clearly Josh is an enthusiast who loves his job and has a lot of experience in his field. He’s grown up around motorsport, and he keeps coming back for one reason; the same reason we’re all here.
“Ultimately, we are all here for one reason” agreed Josh. “We’re here for our love and passion for the sport. I love the fact that every day is different and I meet so many different people who have varied backgrounds and experiences. Secondly I love that by doing what I do I get to travel all over the country to visit different circuits. I love travelling. It’s so perfect!”
Josh explained that he feels the same passion for travelling outside of motorsport too, working for an on-site medical company at music festivals.
“I suppose I sort of fell into festivals. I was looking for extra work when I was younger and the company providing ambulances whilst I was working at Lydden Hill also did a lot of festivals so I got involved with that! I enjoy them because we all camp together at the events so it feels like a little family. Again, I get to travel a lot which is great!”
The enthusiasm that Josh has for his job and for events is clear to see, but he explained to me that, like any job, it has its ups and downs.
“The toughest thing about my job is trying to keep people happy. As a clerk of the course you are dealing with customers of the club, but rules are rules and sometimes people go away unhappy. It’s the nature of what we do. The most valuable lesson I’ve learnt during my career so far is to be confident in the decisions you make and in your abilities.”
“In the future, I see myself working full time for a racing club and working my way through the licensing grades over the coming years. Eventually, I hope to make it to ‘international’ level as a clerk of the course.”
Josh has known for years that he falls under the LGBTQ+ umbrella, and he is keen to share his very positive experiences within motorsport as an Industry Ambassador for Racing Pride.
“To start with, I kept it very hidden and only told certain people. I don’t really think it affected me in any way apart from that. It doesn’t affect me nowadays either. I’m going to use a phrase I hate now – I’m very much straight-acting so I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s obvious to people, but I don’t hide my sexuality. I’ll openly talk about my relationships and my sexuality with friends and colleagues.”
“To young people aiming to get into motorsport, especially those who are under the LGBT umbrella, I’d say to just go for it. I know motorsport can seem like a very ‘masculine’ environment, but that is definitely beginning to change! You have a passion for the sport that is the same as the next person! Just get involved and you’ll never look back!”
Throughout this whole conversation, Josh’s enthusiasm for his sport and love for his job were as clear as day, which is always energising to see in anyone within the motorsport community. I’d like to thank Josh for taking the time for this interview. It was a pleasure to have such an engaging and insightful conversation with him.