Ten girls from the Coffs Harbour region entered the Miss Rally Australia beauty contest. (ABC Coffs Coast: Fiona Poole)
A beauty contest held as part of a motorsport competition has been slammed as objectifying women.
Ten women walked down the runway in their bikinis to cheers and wolf whistles in a regional pub this week, hoping to win $1,000 and become Miss Rally Australia 2017.
The Australian leg of the World Rally Championship takes place on forest roads around Coffs Harbour in northern NSW this weekend.
In the lead-up, Rally Australia held the beauty contest as way to involve young women in the sport.
But the event left some rally enthusiasts, including Australian rally champion Molly Taylor, calling for a change in the culture of motorsports.
Australian rally champion Molly Taylor is a role model for women in the sport. (Supplied: Warren Kirby)
In 2016 Ms Taylor became the first woman to win the Australian Rally Championship, following in the footsteps of her mother Coral Taylor, who won four titles as co-driver for Neal Bates.
Ms Taylor is currently leading the board going into this weekend’s championship.
“For young girls coming into the sport, I think it’s important for people to see women in all aspects of it,” she said.
“As drivers and mechanics and engineers, so they think that is a pathway and they don’t necessarily think their only place in the sport is that route [Miss Rally Australia].”
Tracey Spicer slams contest
Author and journalist Tracey Spicer tweeted “Seriously @KennardsHire & @RallyAustralia a bikini contest…? The 1950s called. They want their attitude back. ‘Miss Rally?’ That’s a bloody big miss.”
The sentiment was supported by Coffs Harbour Woman of the Year Jane Tavener, who said young women had been lured into the competition thinking it was an opportunity to further their modelling career.
“To me this is a much bigger issue. This is about Rally Australia saying it’s okay to still have these competitions that are based on the objectification of women,” she said.
Ms Tavener said the reality was that Rally Australia had saved thousands of dollars on professional hostess wages.
“These women were being asked to parade around in a bikini and an evening gown, and they deserve a lot more money if they are being asked to do that,” she said.
The winner of Miss Rally Australia received $1,000, and each runner-up was given $250.
Their official duties include attending the three-day event to hand out prizes and merchandise.
Rally Australia said that while it had hired hostesses in the past, the intention behind Miss Rally Australia was to give local young people an opportunity to get involved in the sport.
The Miss Rally Australia title was awarded to 19-year-old Brianne Green from Grafton.
“She just looked absolutely beautiful, and she had so much confidence. I was very proud of her,” Brianne’s mother Kim Green said.
“Young girls need some fun and excitement. That’s what it’s all about I think.
“I think just getting up there, she is already a winner.”
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