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Fast Women of Motorsport

There’s bound to be loads of successful female racing drivers. There are also drag racers and land speed record women. Here are just a few of our female heroes in Motorsport.

Motor racing has predominantly been a male hobby since day one. The first recorded race goes way back to 1867 which took place three decades prior to the first known women’s race. Men may have raced before women, but we don’t think women were far behind as far as history goes!

Currently women are a minority in Motorsport, but the good news is women make a greater proportion of competitors than ever before!

From 1901 to the 1950s - from Dorothy Levitt at the Brighton Speed Trials to Maria Teresa de Filippis, who took a leap into the Grand Prix racing scene, women have helped pave the way for many others.

Not surprisingly it was reported that women came across a lot of adversities especially in the early days, including comments along the lines of:

"the only helmet a woman should wear is the one at the hairdresser's"  

But this has not stopped women from chasing their dreams.

Post 1950’s  

Anne Hall was one of the best British rally drivers in Europe, who partnered with her sister Mary Newton. In 1954 as a co-driver to Sheila Van Damm, Anne won the Ladies International Viking Rally which was held in Norway. They weren’t going to stop there, the same year they teamed up to win the Ladies Cup in the Dutch Rally and Coupe des Dames in Monte Carlos.

Anne actually won several trophies including another in Monte Carlo in 1961.

We have got to say that this woman is a legend! After retiring in the late 60’s Anne Hall was lured back into Rally driving in 1988, aged 72, where she won the women’s section in the Pirelli Classic Marathon (overall finishing 18th out of 104 finishers). She completed the 2,300 mile round trip in the Alps driving a 1961 Ford Anglia.

Crowned no fewer than five times European Ladies Rally Champion the late Pat Moss, sister to legend Stirling Moss who taught her to drive at aged 11, impressed the Rallying world throughout Europe in the mid-1950s to the late 1960s. Patricia came 4th in the 1958 British RAC Rally driving a Morris Minor and later that year, drove an Austin Healy also to 4th in the Liege-Rome-Liege Rally. This was the first time a woman had finished in the top ten and the points she gained earned her the Ladies European Championship.  

Formula One

Maria Terese de Filippis was the first of five female F1 racing drivers in sports history! Maria started with racing Fiat 500s after finishing second in 1954 Italian sports car championship, she became a works driver for Maserati. Furthermore, she became first woman to compete in an F1 world championship event and subsequently entered seven Grand Prix races, qualifying for three of the five. She failed to score any points though.

Italian Lella Lombardi’s career began in Rally driving but she went on to become the second lady to compete in Formula 1 - whoop whoop we have a trend forming! She was also the first woman to win an FIA World Championship event when she won the 1979 Enna 6 Hours, for sports cars.

Desire Wilson adds her name to the list of women that competed in Formula 1. She was an outright winner of two FIA World Championship events, winning at Monza and Silverstone in 1980, plus competed at Le Mans in 1991.

In 2015 Jamie Chadwick stepped up to the British GT Championship driving an Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT4, she secured the title in her first year and became the first female to win a British GT Championship. In 2019, Jamie claimed her inaugural W Series title and had some fun too, driving in a class winning team at the Nürburgring 24 Hour Race in Germany. Jamie continues to be a development driver for the driver’s academy and will attempt to defend her W series title, as well as taking part in Asian F3 later in 2020.

NASCAR and some more Rallying

In NASCAR, American Janet Guthrie was the first woman to qualify and compete in the Indianapolis and Daytona 500s. Janet began in Jaguar XK140 and was honoured with “Top Rookie” title and went on to compete in more than 30 NASCAR races. Her achievements were recognised in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2006.

Michele Mouton earned respect in a man’s world, not only for her driving, but her passion for cars. Michele’s career started in Rallying in the 70’s in an Alpine Renault 1600 where she claimed titles outright. In her final year in the late 1980’s with Audi, Michele set the course record and became the first woman to win Pikes Peak (Hill-Climb in Colorado USA)! A move to Peugeot in ’86 saw Michele becoming the first female driver to win a major series in rallying at the German Championship. She is today dedicated to helping others follow the trail she blazed as the president of the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission.

In Britain, Louise Aitkin-Walker started her rallying career in 1979. She entered her first RAC Rally in 1981, finishing 19th overall and in 1983 she became the first lady to win a national rally plus winning the Coupe des Dames in the famous Monte Carlos Rally. Louise drove for various works teams and went on to win the FIA Ladies World title in 1990. In 1992 she was awarded an MBE (Member of the British Empire) and since retiring in 1993, Louise is helping young hopefuls make their way into sport.

Danica Patrick became the first woman to win an IndyCar race and third in the 2009 Indianapolis 500 was not only a PB (personal best) but the highest finish by a woman in this events history.

And not to mention, racing driver Jessie Combs, would be criminal as she is considered the “fastest woman on four wheels” after earning her title back in 2013 when she hit 398mph land speed record. Jessie sadly died attempting to raise and break this record in 2019.

As you can see Racing has come a very long way and we are happy to report that today, there are so many more opportunities for women in all forms of Motorsports at all levels.

Dare to be Inspired!

By Tracy Davis 

Group Marketing 

Enquire
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