COTA Girls pose for a photoshoot following the USGP kick-off event, The Starting Grid

// The History of the Grid Girl

Known as the Race Queen in Japan, Pit Babe in Britain, Pretties in Thailand, Racing Model in Korea, there are many naming conventions for what the majority of us refer to as Grid Girls.

According to racing lore and legend, Rosa Ogawa was the first ever grid girl. Rosa first appeared in the late 1960s motor races in Japan to represent race winners, and as such cemented the grid girl as an icon at the race tracks. Officially, F1 grid girls hold up the grid number for their racer on the grid before races. They also welcome and cheer the three F1 racers who top the podium at each race.

A COTA Girl on the runway at SHIFT INTO STYLE during Austin Fashion WeekUnofficially, they are the ambassadors for the races' hosting countries and of F1.

The whole notion of grid girls seem all fine and good. Grid girl outfits, however, are a different story. Taking a look at this seasons' Grid Girl outfits, we see odd cut-outs, cleavage-flashing tops with short-short mini-skirts or boring country club attire. If the intention is sexy femme, the end results are not achieving that effect. That's unfortunate. The countries that are on the F1 calendar all have their own rich culture and heritage, which translates to a unique sense of style and an individual approach to women's fashion. It's disappointing to see none of those truly reflected in the styling of the Grid Girl outfits. Can Grid Girl outfit designers borrow a look or two from Bond Girl outfits?

Granted, the circuits that are under F1 licensing have to follow F1 rules for Grid Girl outfit design. Perhaps it's the F1 rules that are keeping Grid Girl outfits from being relevant or keeping with the modern times.

// COTA Girls

All is not lost though. Next week, Austin's own Grid Girls - the "COTA Girls" - will be dispersed throughout the grid and paddock at the first purpose-built Formula 1 race track in American history, Circuit of The Americas. COTA Girls are not under F1 licensing, according to Ross Bennett, the Austin-based mastermind designer behind the COTA Girl outfit for 2012. This unique arrangement means Bennett had some freedom in designing the COTA Girl look without adhering to title sponsor or F1 rules.

As a result, the COTA Girl outfits communicates everything that's been missing in the grid girl outfits thus far this season - it's fun, sexy and embodies the uniquely-Texan style. Ross created the vests, jackets and skirts in a soft winter-white tone fabric, and the skirt designs vary between pleats and fringe and will have plenty of movement as the COTA Girls sashay across the grid. Below the vests, a touch of red pops out with form-fitting lace bustiers by Austin-based Teddies for Bettys. Austinite Kendra Scott, whose jewelry line has gone global and is sold by retail powerhouse Nordstrom, offers another nod to our southwestern flair with large pieces of turquoise jewelry. Did I mention how cute the red cowboy boots are?! You can get your own pair at Cavender's.

// Click here to watch our Behind The Scenes interview with Ross Bennett

While you're at the Circuit, notice the integration of the white and red color scheme in architectural highlights at the track - pretty neat to see them integrated consistently with COTA Girls as well!

Do you recall any Grid Girl outfits like the ones pictured below? Did you like them? Tell us!