UPDATE: She did it!
WE DID IT - P4 in my first EVER 24hr race @24hNBR !! ♀️— Charlie Martin (@GoCharlieM) September 27, 2020
Car ran perfectly, no mistakes, just solid performance from everyone at Adrenalin Motorsport
Can’t wait to come back in 2021, hopefully with 200k spectators and a full podium now for a #24hNBR #GoCharlie pic.twitter.com/pZFCILmwuz
ORIGINAL REPORT: British endurance racer Charlie Martin has spent the last few years chasing the auto racing holy grail of a seat for the 24 Hours of LeMans. This week she’ll take two large steps closer to that goal.
Step one is Saturday when she competes in her first career 24-hour event, the ADAC Total 24-Hour Race, a full day’s fight around the iconic 15.5-mile Nürburgring circuit.
The other step was announced Wednesday. She will exchange the long commute from the U.K. to northern Germany for racing closer to home next season. Martin signed on with Czech racing manufacturer Praga and the British-based VR Motorsports team for the 2021 Britcar Dunlop Endurance Championship.
Her next mount will be the next-generation all-carbon Praga R1 prototype. The light, fast vehicle is seen as a competitive stepping-stone drive toward the LeMans prototypes that are her ultimate target.
“I am very excited to be invited to join the Praga family,” Martin, who previously came out publicly as trans, said at a morning press conference to announce the new deal. “I first tested both versions of the R1 at Motorsport Days Live in 2019 and was really impressed by how the car offers the best of GT and prototype driving in one package. We know that the car is a race-winning package and the first task is to deliver strong race results and set our sights on winning the championship.”
The Praga racing team effort has been consistently strong in Britcar Series, and the current season standings have three VR-Praga teams fighting for the season championship.
Praga UK’s managing director Mark Harrison noted that Martin’s versatility throughout her career makes her a winning fit.
“Her experience in multiple cars and categories will be a terrific asset to the team in terms of feedback and outright performance,” Harrison said. “The R1 is perfect for what Charlie wants to achieve and we are looking forward to going racing with her throughout next year.”
There’s some unfinished business ahead for 2020 involving twice around the clock for Martin and co-drivers Lutz Rühl and Davide Bertello, driving their BMW 240i that Martin’s dubbed “The 652nd Airborne”.
The weekend is also a race into history, as this year’s Nürburgring 24-hour race is the event’s 50th anniversary. Martin will be the first transgender driver to ever compete in it.
“This is one of the biggest endurance races of the year, on a circuit famous for its complexity and changeable conditions,” Martin said. “This is also a very proud moment for me as the first transgender entrant in this race. After such a crazy year, this could so easily not have happened and I am so thankful for all the support I have received in preparing me for this moment and the opportunity to do something that has never been done before.”