Suzi Perry: “Just be yourself”

“I tell you, I was talking about this the other day to somebody who works in television,” Suzi Perry, a motorsport broadcaster, begins. “We were discussing how different television presenting jobs are. They are literally night and day between shiny floor entertainment and autocue sport presenting.

“She works for Sky and she was saying people that work in entertainment were coming to look at how sports presenters work because it is completely different.”

Broadcasting is notoriously tough. But when you mix in live sport, where just about anything can happen, the bar gets raised even higher. You have to think and act on your feet, as well as making what you are saying appear extremely effortless. It is a juggling act and one you must perfect in order to make easy viewing.

Suzi Perry, who has worked in the profession for over 21-years, insists that you “just have to be yourself” which, of course, comes from knowing all of your facts. Granted that is no easy task in the ever-changing world of motorsport.

“I think the biggest challenge is always getting the story right,” Perry tells me. “I think in the media people are so fraught to get there first, but it is more important to get the facts straight.

“For me, the biggest challenge is getting the story right and then after that what you want to do is – in a sports area what you’re supposed to do is create entertainment – so you want to make it entertaining as well.

“In order to do that you need to be able to unlock information from whoever you’re talking to. It is finding the right way of getting the information you want in a fun and entertaining way.”

55e90065-edc2-4d3f-b6ca-ac007ea22970
Suzi Perry presented Formula 1 for the BBC.

 

Perry has had a long and successful career in presenting – most notable being the lead figure with BT Sport covering MotoGP and BBC1 presenting Formula 1.

“I wouldn’t say I get nervous but I get a rush of adrenaline and it’s physical. It is a shortness of breath and a slightly shaky hand sometimes.

“It is more about the anticipation of what is about to happen. I am still as excited today presenting as I was 21 years ago when I started.”

Perry acknowledges that she holds a role that many aspire to. Many young girls and boys strive to make a career out of sport presenting.

“When presenting MotoGP, really anything can happen. You cannot call anything. It is all very much about speculation and lots of ifs and buts,” she says.

“You know that you are just going to be treated to an incredible spectacle and you’re lucky enough to have a patch on your neck and you’re right there in the heart of the action. It is an extremely privileged position to be in.”

And the passion you feel is key. Perry believes so, in order to succeed in achieving your dream job. It is an intense and competitive world, but you have to love what you do.

“What you have to do is know your subject. And love your subject. If you do know and love what you are talking about, then you just have to be yourself and that’s it,” she tells me.

“I have given that advice to a few people. Natalie Quirk included, who is now presenting on BT Sport. I met her and she was 14. She came up to me and asked that question when I was in the pits doing Speedway for Sky back then.

“It is nice now how all these years later, those girls are going ‘oh yes, you! Now I am doing this, doing that and writing here.’ It is lovely to meet young girls that want to be involved in media and broadcasting.”

And I could not agree more…

Music and motorsport: the perfect combination?

One of the world’s biggest pop stars – Justin Timberlake – is set to perform ahead of the US Grand Prix in October later this year. A crucial move to secure ticket sales for the event.

After the phenomenal success of last year’s Austin act Taylor Swift, the organisers of this season’s event have looked to go even better and greater.

Bobby Epstein, president of the Circuit of the Americas, says music artists see the weekend as a global stage and Timberlake “fits right in.”

Organisers behind the event last year signed up Swift to drive larger crowds to the big race and introduce more people to the sport, and they are hoping to do the same with Timberlake.

“Last year did what we hoped it would do, which is not only enhance an already great event but also give us the chance to expose a lot of new people to the sport,” COTA chairman Bobby Epstein tells Reuters. “And it worked. I think where we saw a big change was in the average number of tickets sold per transaction, which told me that families were buying. And so I think we’ll see that continue.”

Timberlake will play to an expected enormous crowd on 21st October, ahead of Sunday’s race. The booking comes at a critical time in Formula 1 as ticket sales of the sport appear to be struggling.

2017 has already lost the German Grand Prix after reports circulated in November last year that the race weekend would be cancelled.

There are other races where their futures’ remain uncertain too, another dent to the sport. The German race is the third event as of late to make headlines about departing the calendar, following Malaysia’s announcement that the 2018 race will be its last, while Singapore is also reportedly thinking heavily about its F1 future.

With race fees on the rise, tracks are doing their utmost to attract fans to their events.

Timberlake has a huge following, being one of the most successful solo artists of all time. His appearance will be sure to bring in a different audience to the US race.

Going forward, it seems essential for organisers to take music artists into consideration. Granted that not all events can afford such big bookings, but it is at least something to keep in mind as Formula 1 enters the next generation of the sport.

With social media more prevalent than ever, music and F1 shall make a perfect partnership for the sport to grow. Now it is vital to appeal to a wider audience. COTA have caught onto that, demonstrating how to put on a show for all.

Music and motorsport are a well-paired couple, securing the all-important ticket sales for those who are on the fence about attending.

Artists have often featured at races, although no one, arguably, has set the standard higher than the organisers of the Austin GP.

One thing remains certain, F1 and music have to keep collaborating.