‘It Feels Very Possible.’ How This Transgender Racing Driver Is Hoping to Make Sports History

Charlie Martin hurtles around the racetrack, her gloved hands gripping the steering wheel with only blond hair visible from the top of the driver’s seat. She zooms underneath banners emblazoned with the logo of the 24 Hours of Le Mans motorsport race, her focus unbroken. Eventually slowing to a halt after a 30-minute run, Martin unbuckles her seatbelt. It’s not a helmet that she takes off, but a VR headset; not a racing car that she lifts herself out of, but a state-of-the art simulator at Cranfield Simulation, an aerospace facility about two hours north of London.

The simulator is just one of the many ways Martin, 37, is preparing for the biggest race of her career so far — and the chance to make history. She plans to be the first transgender driver to ever compete at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France — one of the world’s most prestigious motorsport races. Her journey begins June 15, where she will compete in the Road to Le Mans race as part of the Michelin Le Mans Cup, marking the start of a three-year program setting her on the road toward the 24 Hours race, and towards making LGBT history. Her story is a rare one in a sport not known for its diversity, and comes at a time when many transgender people are facing a rising backlash for their participation in different sports.

In recent months, several high-profile athletes including tennis champion Martina Navratilova, Olympic medallist Kelly Holmes and long-distance runner Paula Radcliffe have questioned the “fairness” of transgender women competing in elite sport. In 2017, researchers at Loughborough University found that a majority of international sporting policies including the International Olympic Committee and the Rugby Football Union were unfairly discriminating against transgender people, particularly transgender women. And in the U.S., transgender student athletes have faced vitriol and even legal attempts to prevent them from competing in sport.

“There’s no argument about the positive effects of sport, like belonging to a team, and the health benefits,” says Martin, who first fell in love with motorsport when she was eight years old. “To deny that to people is incredibly damaging. I don’t think some of the people who are pushing this argument really understand the impact of what they are doing.”

Racing driver Charlie Martin at her first race of the season at Circuit Paul Ricard, France, in April 2019

Growing up in Leicestershire in the English Midlands, Martin first wanted to be a fighter pilot, before shifting her attention to focus on cars and racing. “It’s been the biggest passion in my life,” she tells TIME, sitting among several car models after her first training session of the day at Cranfield. Since buying her own racing car at the age of 23 (“a Peugeot 205,” she recalls), Martin has spent the majority of her life being in and around cars and motorsport.

Now she’s setting her sights on one of the sport’s most legendary races: the 24 hours of Le Mans. Called the “Grand Prix of Endurance and Efficiency,” the race runs over the course of 24 hours around a punishing 8.5 mile long track in the northern French town of Le Mans. For many drivers, competing at the 96-year-old annual event is the pinnacle of their racing career.

“If someone had told me 10 years ago that I was going to attempt to race the 24 hours of Le Mans, I’d say forget it. If someone had told me 10 years ago I was going to transition and be my true self and race, I’d say what planet are you living on?” Martin says. “But now, it feels very real. It feels very possible.”

Martin remains determined to pursue her goal, to compete in the main Le Mans event in 2022. But first, she will compete in this year’s support race, the Road to Le Mans as part of the Michelin Le Mans Cup, which takes place on the same track as the main race in front of an international audience from June 13 to June 15.

There are several challenges when it comes to endurance racing. Martin’s upcoming race consists of two one-hour long races, with a driver change in the middle. Training the mind to concentrate on keeping up pace and consistency for one solid hour is difficult, as is dealing with difficulties like slower cars, blind spots and traffic.

“It’s a lot harder than it looks,” she says. Coming to train each week in the simulator for a couple of hours at a time is the closest thing she can get to practicing in the real car, which is based in Luxembourg. Currently, Martin is part of a family racing team with two brothers, David and Gary Hauser, based in eastern Luxembourg. The team also has a 50/50 gender split, with men and women making up the drivers, engineers and mechanics all contributing to the race. And although her training is largely solitary, the draw of the sport for Martin is the teamwork. “Here, the whole team has to work together in endurance. It’s an incredible feeling to be working hard for the same goal.”

As well as the physical and mental test of training for the race, Martin has come up against financial obstacles too. Because of delays in negotiations with backers, Martin has been forced to crowdfund before heading to Le Mans — a source of stress no driver wants to face in the weeks leading up to the race of their life. (She is hoping to raise $ 63,000).

Racing driver Charlie Martin at her first race of the season at Circuit Paul Ricard, France, in April 2019
Paola DepalmasRacing driver Charlie Martin at her first race of the season at Circuit Paul Ricard, France, in April 2019

But the biggest challenge she’s overcome so far is the decision to transition, she says. Having known she was trans since childhood, Martin experienced severe depression and was suicidal by the end of 2011, after racing for around six years. “I would look at myself in the mirror each day, and I just didn’t know who I was any more. I had lost all sense of connection with my identity.”

Following the experiences of YouTube vloggers who were documenting their own transitions online, Martin was inspired to begin her own transition and decided to put her motorsport career on hold during 2012. She considered leaving the sport entirely, fearing that people might make fun of her and that the activity she loved the most might become the thing she hated.

“For me, transition was the hardest thing I could ever attempt. I had no idea if it was going to go well or badly,” she says. Yet when the British racing community welcomed her back upon her return that September, and when she made a full return to the sport by racing in France in 2015, she felt overwhelmed by the support. “Coming out the other side and feeling that I’m alive, I’m happy, I found what I needed. That’s an incredibly empowering feeling and it made me feel like: What next?” Boosted by this new sense of confidence, she began pushing herself further in the car, improving her performance and earning spots on the podium at races.

However, Martin knows that her experience of being a trans woman with the support of her sporting community is not universal. “The discrimination towards the trans community right now is really tragic, and really damaging,” Martin says. “I think it creates a toxic environment for people; this isn’t just about trans professional athletes. This is about anyone who likes sport, whether they’re a fan, someone who plays football with a local team, someone who wants to go to their local pool or gym.”

The current atmosphere has fueled Martin’s ambition to increase trans visibility in sport and society to empower others. “We should be free to be who we want to be in our life, and do what we want to do. Nobody should limit their vision of what’s possible in life just because of how they were born.”

Sports – TIME

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A Look Back at 5 Memorable Player-Fan Altercations in Major League Sports

When it comes to sports, emotions can — and frequently do — run high. Sometimes, this leads to fights between players, as was the case when a Chicago White Sox infielder infamously charged the mound after veteran Texas Rangers pitcher Nolan Ryan hit him with a pitch. But when fans get in the mix, it’s a whole other ballgame, so to speak.

This issue most recently rose to the surface of sports discourse when a fan shoved Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry after he went flying into the crowd during Game 3 of the 2019 NBA Finals. It later came to light that the fan in question, Mark Stevens, is a part owner of the Golden State Warriors.

The incident occurred after Lowry slammed into a group of fans seated courtside at Oracle Arena while trying to save a loose ball in the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s game. Stevens, who wasn’t involved in the collision, then reached over to shove Lowry out of the way. Lowry complained to a referee, and Stevens was ejected from the game.

During a SportsCenter appearance following the game, Lowry said that he felt Stevens should no longer be allowed to attend NBA games. “Honestly, I hope he’s never allowed to come to an NBA game because he shouldn’t have done that,” Lowry told ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt. “There’s no place for that. Luckily, they threw him out. I talked to the league security already and explained myself. The fans have a place. We love our fans. But fans like that, they shouldn’t be allowed to be in there because it’s not right.”

Lowry’s fellow NBA star LeBron James also spoke out against Stevens’ actions. James took to Instagram on Thursday to call for Stevens to be further disciplined.

There’s absolutely no place in our BEAUTIFUL game for that AT ALL. There’s so many issues here. When you sit courtside you absolutely know what comes with being on the floor and if you don’t know it’s on the back on the ticket itself that states the guidelines. But he himself being a fan but more importantly PART-OWNER of the Warriors knew exactly what he was doing which was so uncalled for. He knew the rules more than just the average person sitting watching the game courtside so for that Something needs to be done ASAP! A swift action for his actions. Just think to yourself, what if @kyle_lowry7 would have reacted and put his hands back on him. You guys would be going CRAZY!! Calling for him to damn near be put in jail let alone being suspended for the rest of the Finals all because he was protected himself. I’ve been quite throughout the whole NBA playoffs watching every game (haven’t missed one) but after I saw what I saw last night, took time to let it manifest into my thinking I couldn’t and wouldn’t be quiet on this!

The NBA also issued a statement on Thursday calling Stevens’ actions “beyond unacceptable” and announcing that he will not be allowed to attend games as their review of the matter continues.

The results of this particular altercation seem to be skewing in Lowry’s — a.k.a. the player’s — favor. But ahead of Game 4 of the finals, let’s take a look back at how some of the memorable fan-player confrontations in major league sports history have played out.

The Malice at the Palace

Back when Metta World Peace went by his real name, Ron Artest, and played for the Indiana Pacers, he was involved in a fan-player brawl so infamous that it has been given its own name: The Malice at the Palace.

The events leading up to Artest fighting a fan during a 2004 game between the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons included Pistons center Ben Wallace shoving Artest after Artest fouled him, Artest laying down on the scorer’s table to try to cool off, and a fan — a man named John Green — throwing a drink at Artest while he was lying there.

What followed was a massive brawl that began with Artest attacking a man who he thought was Green, but was actually just a random spectator.

“There were roughly half a dozen elements that caused that brawl to happen,” Mark Montieth, who covered the Pacers for the Indianapolis Star, told Grantland in 2012. “If Artest doesn’t make that hard foul on Ben Wallace, it doesn’t happen. If Ben Wallace doesn’t react the way he did, it doesn’t happen. If the referees control the situation, it doesn’t happen. If Artest doesn’t go lay down on that scorer’s table, it doesn’t happen. If the fan doesn’t throw the beverage, it doesn’t happen. There was a continuation there, a succession of things. You take away any one of them and the whole thing doesn’t happen.”

Five Pacers and four Pistons were suspended following the melee. Artest was suspended for the remainder of the 2003-04 season — the longest fight-related suspension ever levied in the NBA — while his teammates Stephen Jackson and Jermaine O’Neal were suspended for 30 and 25 games, respectively. Artest also lost approximately $ 5 million in salary.

Green was convicted of misdemeanor assault and sentenced to 30 days in jail and two years’ probation. He was also banished for life from Detroit home games.

Strangely enough, Artest and Green are now friends.

Albert Belle

Albert “Joey” Belle became known for a number of outbursts throughout his career. But the incident that sticks out in most MLB fans’ minds is when he chucked a loose foul ball at a heckling fan during a May 1991 game between the Cleveland Indians and California Angels. The fan in question, Jeff Pillar, had apparently been taunting Belle, who had spent 10 weeks in an alcohol-rehabilitation program the previous summer, about “throwing a keg party” and inviting him.

The Indians issued an apology to Pillar — who was left with a bruised chest bone — on Belle’s behalf and the American League suspended him for six games.

Shaun Ellis

In the wake of a 13-3 loss to a less-than-stellar Seattle Seahawks squad in 2008, New York Jets defensive end Shaun Ellis was caught on camera heaving a chunk of snow at Seahawks season ticket holder Robert Larsen as the Jets were pelted with snowballs while running off the field at Qwest Stadium. Despite the fact that Ellis claimed his reaction was “all in fun,” the NFL slapped him with a $ 10,000 fine for the incident.

Larsen also sued Ellis in 2010, a full two years later, for both physical and emotional damages.

Frank Francisco

When an altercation between the Texas Rangers bullpen and Oakland Athletics fans made then-Texas reliever Frank Francisco see red during a 2004 game at the Oakland Coliseum, Francisco hurled a metal folding chair into the stands that hit a heckling fan’s wife in the face and broke her nose. Francisco was ejected from the game, suspended for the rest of the season, and fined $ 10,000 by the league. He was also arrested on a charge of aggravated battery.

The fan’s wife, Jennifer Bueno, later filed a lawsuit against the team, the players and the security firm employed by the A’s. It was settled out of court when the Rangers agreed to issue a public apology as well as a sum of money that was not disclosed.

“It’s going to be something that is part of my life forever,” Bueno said during a 2005 news conference announcing the lawsuit. “I’m fearful of any confrontations happening around me.”

Vernon Maxwell

There are some trash talk lines that should never be crossed — that is, if you don’t want a 6-foot-4 inch, 180-pound NBA player coming after you.

Violence is obviously never the answer, but when then-Houston Rockets shooting guard Vernon “Mad Max” Maxwell allegedly heard a Portland Trail Blazers fan making fun of his wife’s recent miscarriage during a 1995 game, he went bounding up into the stands during a timeout and hit the heckler, a man named Steve George, in the jaw. For his part, George, insisted he was simply taunting Maxwell for only having scored five points.

“I’m a fan yelling about the game,” George told the Los Angeles Times. “I was definitely riding Vernon, you know, ‘Five points, four fouls, you’re not having a good night.’ I don’t deserve to get hit in the face for that.”

Maxwell was ejected, suspended for 10 games and hit with a $ 20,000 fine by the NBA.

Sports – TIME

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ICYMI: Cannes Festival Fashion, Ear Cuffs and Climbers & ‘Sports Illustrated’ Swimsuit Issue’s Evolution

Sure, we’re all glued to our phones/tablets/laptops/watches that barely tell time, but even the best of us miss out on some important #content from time to time. That’s why, in case you missed it, we’ve rounded up our most popular stories of the week to help you stay in the loop. No need to thank …

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When Newspaper Sports Columnists Were Kings of the Press Box

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty

Back in the days before the internet, before sports talk radio, and before Stephen A. Smith, Keith Olbermann, and Howard Cosell on TV, the newspaper columnist reigned supreme in the sports world. We picked up the paper to get the lowdown, to be informed, sure, but also to be entertained. We bought the paper for Jimmy Cannon or Tom Boswell.  The sports columnist told us what happened in a game but also gave us behind-the-scenes dirt that you couldn’t get anywhere else. The best of them held forth with style, attitude, and the uncanny ability to write well under pressure.

The 20th century is rich with memorable columnists: Red Smith, Jim Murray, and Sally Jenkins are just three who are featured in the tasty new Library of America sports anthology, The Great American Sports Page: A Century of Classic Columns from Ring Lardner to Sally Jenkins. This is the third sports title edited by John Schulian for LOA (Football; At the Fights, co-edited with George Kimball). Schulian made his name as a sports columnist in Chicago in the late ’70s, early ’80s and he brings a balanced, custodial rigor to his duties.

This collection takes us from the pioneering days of Ring Lardner and Grantland Rice through the mid-century titans W.C. Heinz, Joe Palmer, and Dick Young; digs deep into Schulian’s generation who came of age in the mid-’70s led by Diane Shah, Leigh Montville, Tony Kornheiser, Mike Lupica, Bob Ryan, Larry Merchant, and Dave Kindred, and also features the talents of Jane Leavy, Ralph Wiley, Michael Wilbon, and Joe Posnanski. Schulian also includes easily overlooked regional writers like Peter Finney, Emmett Watson, and Wells Twombly in addition to the usual heavyweights—Ring Lardner, Grantland Rice, and Jimmy Cannon.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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Jaylon McKenzie, 8th Grade Football Phenom Featured in Sports Illustrated, Killed Outside St. Louis

Photo Illustration by Lyne Lucien/The Daily Beast/Photo Courtesy of the family

Jaylon McKenzie had a bright future. Last November, the eighth-grade football phenom was profiled in Sports Illustrated’s “Six Teens Who Will Rule the Future in Sports.” Soon after, he’d reportedly received verbal scholarship offers from The University of Illinois and the University of Missouri. McKenzie had big dreams: to earn a college scholarship, to make the NFL, and to move to Los Angeles and play for the Chargers or the Rams.

But those dreams were cut short Saturday night, police say, when the 14-year-old was shot dead while attending a post-prom party in Illinois.

“It’s so hard to fathom that someone took my baby from me because he dreamed so big,” Sukeena Gunner, McKenzie’s mother, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Sunday. “I can just remember him coming into my room and telling my husband to call his name. ‘We have a 5-6 running back, Jayyyyy-lonnnn McKenzieeee.’ And he would run into the room after his name was called.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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http://www.acrx.org -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.-American Consultants Rx -Pharmacy Discount Network News

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