Two-time Le Mans 24 Hours LMP2 class winner Danny Watts has announced that he is homosexual.
The 37-year-old is believed to be the highest-profile European racing driver to come out so far.
"You feel like you have to hide it within motorsport because it's a very masculine sport," Watts told Motorsport.com.
"There was something burning inside that said 'right, you can't hide it anymore, you've got to be free and be true to yourself and let it go out there'.
"I told close family members and friends. There was obviously shock to start with but people were also very supportive, which was nice. So I thought if they're cool with it, let's go with it."
Watts ended his racing career after Le Mans last year and is now focused on driver coaching.
He admitted making the announcement felt "easier now I've stopped racing" as he had been concerned about how sponsors and teams might react.
"The biggest thing is worrying what people will think and how they'll portray you, how they'll act around you," said Watts. "It's stupid things like thinking do I go and shake hands with people, will they shake your hand back?
"Am I going to be able to look them in the eye or not? Is it going to be awkward? There are a million and one questions going round in my head about how this is all going to work out.
"My stomach is churning about the next paddock I go to and people knowing and how they'll think of me. It's bloody scary."
Watts described recent months as "horrible" and explained he had decided making a public announcement would be healthier than only informing people close to him.
"You can either keep it secret in racing and have your separate life where your close friends and family know, or you can just go all out and say 'there you go, my cards are on the table, take it or leave it'," he said.