Formula Woman, the one-make race series backed by Mazda UK, has been inundated with applications from would-be women racing drivers.
"We've had more than 2,000 applications from Shetland to Cornwall and from 18 to 60 year olds," said Graeme Glew, the man behind the series which is aimed at getting more women involved in motor racing.
"Housewives, dentists, solicitors, even pole dancers and bus drivers have applied and there have been more than 6,000 downloads on our website," said Glew who admits that the germ of the idea started when he was running racing schools in the 1980s.
"Very few women would show any interest in racing then. Now women are much more adventurous and independent then they were ten years ago."
That is one of the reasons he believes the time is right for Formula Woman. He is expecting about 10,000 women to have applied by the autumn when the final selection process, whittling them down to 2,400, starts.
The first of those hopefuls will be put through their paces, using Mazda MX-5 sports cars, at Oulton Park in Cheshire on June 11.
Each woman will undergo five tests covering general fitness, reaction times, a written tests, presentation skills and - most importantly - driving skills.
Each must be a true amateur and not hold a motor sport licence.
By November, the final 50 will have been chosen ready for the televised RX-8 race series which will kick off in spring next year. The final format has not been decided. "Ideally it will be a ten race series with some double headers," said Glew who ran Team Touraco and was involved in Formula One sponsorship in the 1980s.
Mazda UK’s marketing ,director Rob Lindley said: "The idea appealed to me for a number of reasons, mainly because we are trying to raise the profile of Mazda as a brand and with the interest in reality television it seemed like an opportunity too good to miss."
First he had to seek approval from Mazda’s global headquarters and they were keen.
"The company is going to watch how things go in the UK with a view to extending it worldwide if it is a success."
The cost to Mazda is the loan of around six MX-5s for driver training and 18 cars for the race series next year.Published 11 May 2003