Watch out, boys—here comes Ayla Ågren!

Norwegian racer Ayla Ågren selected for 2020 W Series and is gaining speed

Ayla Ågren

Norwegian racer Ayla Ågren selected for 2020 W Series and is gaining speed

Michael Kleiner
The Norwegian American

Ayla Ågren gladly accepted her newest honor, but she dreams of a time when there won’t be a “W” series for women racers and a series for men, a time when it will just be the best drivers behind the wheel, may the best one win.

She recently qualified to be one of 18 women drivers in the second Formula 3 W series in 2020.

“Many have been skeptical,” the 26-year-old told VG. “I probably wasn’t the one who jumped the most when I first heard about it. It feels good. But this first year they managed to convince me. It’s not about sharing girls and boys, but more about bringing in more girls, who can then take up the competition with the guys. I’ll run to the guys again later. I have always said that the goal is to get to Indycar. That still stands.”

Indycar is the American equivalent of Formula 1.

“This is an incredible opportunity they give to the drivers,” she told the Norwegian website Parc Fermé last December before the shoot-out—as the competition is known—began.

She was the first woman to win the U.S. Formula 1600 championship in 2014. The top 12 drivers from 2019 automatically qualified for the 2020 W Series, all of which will take place in Europe. The shoot-out for the final six slots—among 55 women from 26 countries, ages 17-33—was held in Austria.

In addition to driving, the racers were tested on technical skills on and off the oval, physically, mentally, and socially.

“You don’t quite know what they are looking for,” the native of Slemmestad in Buskerud told Parc Fermé. “There are many good drivers, but I have always believed [it’s best] to focus only on myself and what [I] can improve about [myself]. Basically, you have no control over what the others do and do not do.”

“It feels very good,” Ågren told VG after her selection. “These are Formula 3 cars. We were given the opportunity to drive a few laps. Then, ‘the judges’ could evaluate how we drove, the progression, and so on.”

One of the benefits of qualifying is that the W series pays all expenses. The purse for winning the W series is NOK 4.5 million (almost $492,000) and the chance to race in higher formula class competitions. Ågren will continue to live and train in Houston.

“It is tough to compete, not least against the 12 who already know the lanes and the car well,” said Ågren to VG. “But I’ll do my best. I haven’t competed in two years, only driven for events.”

“It’s been itching wildly in the gas foot this year, and this is an unusal opportunity,” she said to Parc Fermé. “I’ve stayed in the game in various ways, by working on the track, everything from spotting [Ed.: relaying information to drivers about track conditions] on oval tracks, to being part of the HRX USA driving suit brand, to stay where I want to be. Because if I had not been present this year, there would have been no further driving.”

“It will be incredibly great to join up and compete again,” she said to VG. “For me, this is a new chance. Then we’ll see what it can lead to in the future.”

Watch out, boys.

This article originally appeared in the November 29, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American.

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Michael Kleiner

Michael Kleiner, business and sports editor, has more than three decades of experience as an award-winning journalist and public relations professional. He has operated his own PR and web design business for small businesses, authors and community organizations in Philadelphia since 1999. Not of Norwegian descent, he lived in Norway for a year with his family at age 11 and has returned as an adult. He is the author of a memoir, Beyond the Cold: An American’s Warm Portrait of Norway, and a member of NorCham Philadelphia. Visit;