Ann Bradshaw’s first foray into motorsport came in the early 1970s when, as a news journalist, a connection of hers in the Yardley BRM team heard about a vacancy as Competitions Officer at the British Racing and Sports Car Club (BRSCC) and thought Ann would be an ideal fit.
On accepting the role she was responsible for the PR and management of race weekends, including the co-ordination of many of the journalists involved in F1 where her own journalism experience proved invaluable.
She moved on to Autosport magazine where she was Assistant Rallies Editor, followed by a stint at the UK’s motorsport governing body the RACMSA before an F1 opportunity came quite by chance, when she was asked by CSS promotions to help with PR for Canon who happened to be Williams’ title sponsor.
Ann’s connection with Williams grew, and in 1985 she accepted the role of Team Press Officer, a relatively novel concept at the time.
At that time, pre-computers, mobile phones and the world wide web, there were very few opportunities for TV because broadcasters would show the race and little else before or after. There was no allotted time for PR with drivers and key team members at the time and so Bradshaw found herself having to grab opportunities when she could to get inside info (including routinely interviewing Keke Rosberg wearing nothing but a g-string), with which she could then put together team press releases that were distributed via F1’s media centre or by mailing them out post-race.
Bradshaw remained at Williams as F1 moved into the digital age, and as the job developed with the advent of computers, the internet and latterly mobile devices, having to publicly represent drivers from Piquet and Mansell, to Hill and Villeneuve.
She left Williams at the end of 1996, following World Champion Hill to Arrows.
Wishing to do something ‘other than F1′ Bradshaw then left F1 to pursue a number of other motorsport opportunities, including WTCC and Formula BMW amongst others.
A1GP – a new, but short lived single-make racing series – was Ann’s next port of call and one of the most enjoyable times of her career – her wealth of motorsport PR experience and her journalism contacts really benefitting a fledgeling series that was steadily developing.
Sadly, after four seasons the championship ran out of funding and it was cancelled ahead of its fifth. On its collapse Ann turned to freelance work – including PR-ing for a number of young starlets, including Sebastian Vettel, Felipe Nasr & Carlos Sainz (keeping her within touching distance of Formula 1) – before returning to F1 full time in 2017 with Williams’ Lance Stroll after being recommended to Lance’s management by Williams Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams.
Top of her own own career highlights was the 1996 Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka when Damon Hill won the World Championship which she describes as ‘pretty special’.
But there have been tough times too – managing the teams PR in the wake of Ayrton Senna’s fatal crash in 1994 being among them.
She now works with the Williams F1 team on a part-time freelance basis, but has also built on her experience of A1GP by co-ordinating the PR of another fledgeling series: the female only W-Series, which debuted in 2019.
“I’ve been a journalist myself, so I really need to know what journalists need to know. Knowing what information people want. The best thing is giving people the information before they ask for it.” said Bradshaw of her pioneering role in F1.
“Annie is an amazing lady” ex-Williams driver David Coulthard of his former Williams colleague.