Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The FIA World Rally Championship Ladies' Cup

Twice winner Isolde Holderied, with her Toyota Corolla WRC

In 1990, the FIA created a Coupe des Dames for the World Rally Championship. To be eligible for the prize, drivers had to enter seven rounds of the WRC, including at least one outside Europe. Points were then awarded for finishing positions within each rally. This prevented local specialists from winning the Cup with a single good performance, and was meant to reward consistency. In practice, however, it meant that some entrants only made an effort with rallies that suited them, as eligibility was based on starting, rather than finishing, rallies. The phenomenon of a driver retiring from a rally early on, for no obvious reason, did draw criticism from some quarters, although the FIA Group N championship of the time ran in a similar manner, and attracted some of the same gamesmanship.

The Ladies’ championship attracted some good drivers, a couple of whom went on to challenge at the highest level of the sport. There were never great numbers of female competitors, and this seems to have been one of the factors in the decision to shelve the award after 1995.

1990 - Louise Aitken-Walker
1991 - Minna Sillankorva
1992 - Eija Jurvanen
1993 - Christine Driano
1994 - Isolde Holderied
1995 - Isolde Holderied

(Image from http://www.autozeitung.de/faszination-auto/isolde-holderied-im-toyota-corolla-wrc/Bild/n257057/5)

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Anita Taylor (Matthews)

Anita Taylor was a popular British racer in the 1960s, born in Yorkshire. She was the sister of Formula One driver, Trevor Taylor, and the pair sometimes raced together. They were both very well-connected in the motorsport world, which gave Anita access to some very competitive machinery during her short career.

Although she usually drove saloon cars, it was stage rallying in which she started her career, as a teenager. Among the cars she rallied was a Standard. She began racing shortly afterwards, and used various Ford Anglias predominantly. The Anglia was the car she would be most associated with, during her time on the circuits. She made her first major appearance in 1962, driving an Anglia at the Silverstone International Trophy meeting, in the British Saloon Car race. She did not finish.

Her first major result was a win in the BMRC Trophy at Charterhall, driving a Lotus Elan previously raced by Jim Clark, her brother’s team-mate. This was the last meeting held at the Charterhall circuit before its closure. The same year, she entered the Brands Hatch 6 Hours, in a John Willment Ford Anglia. She was 21st overall, assisted by rally driver Anne Hall. In another Anglia, owned by her brother, she tackled the later rounds of the British Saloon championship, her best  finishes being tenth at Crystal Palace and fourteenth at Brands Hatch. In the mid-1960s, this series was incredibly competitive, with current and past Formula One drivers, as well as specialists, taking part. As well as the established stars, there were a few regular female competitors, including Christabel Carlisle, Elizabeth Jones and Michelle Burns-Grieg, who all drove Minis.

Trevor and Anita founded their own team, Aurora Gears Racing, in 1964. Aurora Gears was a company owned by Trevor. They both drove Mini Coopers in the British Saloon Car Championship. Anita made her debut in the second round, at Goodwood, and was last. Her best finish was ninth, at Crystal Palace, and she also managed to beat her brother in the last round, the Oulton Park Gold Cup. Trevor had also not made much of an impact on the top-ten, and the quality of drivers in the BSCC was still very high, including Jim Clark, Jack Sears and Denny Hulme. Anita and Trevor shared one of the Aurora Gear Minis in the Brands Hatch 6 Hour race, but they did not finish due to a broken timing chain. An Aurora Gears sports prototype existed also, which Anita my have driven, but no actual race results for it are forthcoming.

Away from the family team, Anita also drove with Valerie Pirie in the Tour de France. They were representing Stirling Moss’s SMART team, in a Triumph Spitfire, but did not finish after an engine failure.

Anita continued to race a Mini in the 1965 BSCC, but normally under the banner of the Automobile Racing Drivers’ School. She was not overly competitive, and had a best finish of 19th, at Brands Hatch and Goodwood. Aurora Gear was involved that year in Formula Two, with Trevor driving.
In 1966, she remained the BSCC, having followed Trevor to the Broadspeed team. Her usual team-mate was John Fitzpatrick. They both drove Ford Anglias. At the Silverstone International Trophy meeting, Anita won the under-1 litre class by quite a long way, and was ninth overall, beating her team-mate. Her best outright finish was sixth, at Crystal Palace. Towards the end of the season, she had some reliability troubles with the Anglia, and during the last race of the season, at Brands Hatch, she rolled the car, embarrassingly, right in front of a TV camera. Nevertheless, she helped Broadspeed to the team title.

At the end of the 1966 season, Anita travelled to the Bahamas for Nassau Speed Week. Ostensibly, she was on her honeymoon, having married Dave Matthews. She drove a Shelby GT350 in two of the big races, the Governor’s Trophy and the Nassau Trophy, and was 24th and 15th respectively. She was supported by the Ring Free Oil team, who were putting together a ladies’ team at the time.

At the beginning of 1967, she was part of the “Ring Free Oil Motor Maids”, and raced in the Daytona 24 Hours with Smokey Drolet and Janet Guthrie. They finished 20th overall, in a Ford Mustang. A little later, Anita and Smokey Drolet were 35th in the Sebring 12 Hours. This time, they were in an Alpine Renault A110, run by Baker Racing in conjunction with Ring Free.

During this time, Anita was sponsored by the Ford motor company. She carried on as a Broadspeed driver in the BSCC, and had a best finish of seventh, at the Oulton Park Gold Cup. In the rest of the races, she seemed to place well in class, but did not trouble the main classification too much. John Fitzpatrick also had a quieter year. As well as racing, Anita had another go at rallying, in the marathon Shell 4000 Rally in Canada. She was driving an official Lotus Ford Cortina with a local navigator, Terry Gillies. Unfortunately, a navigational error got them stuck in wet ground, and they had to retire. As well as rallying, Anita participated in economy runs and driving stunts, such as speed records for towing caravans. As time went on, she became increasingly annoyed that Ford were exploiting her novelty value and considerable beauty with modelling assignments and stunts, rather than racing.

Anita retired from motorsport at the end of 1967, in order to concentrate on family life. Her marriage to Dave Matthews did not last, but she remained close to her family and her brother, Trevor, until his death in 2010. She never did return to active competition, but she and Trevor were a fixture at various race meetings over the years.

Anita is remembered by many for her striking looks, and her quirky habits, which included carrying her handbag with her in her racing car, stowed under the seat. In addition to this, she was a very competent driver with some decent results, achieved against top-class opposition. She gives her name to the saloon racing trophy presented each year by the British Women Racing Drivers’ Club.

(Image from http://www.wickersleyweb.co.uk/hist/taylor.htm)

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

The Speederettes

Helen Summersby at Ascot Park

During the First World War, motorsports ceased almost entirely in Europe. This was not the case in the USA. Although racing was quite limited, the dirt speedways and board tracks, many of them in fairgrounds, continued to operate.

Women had been banned from official, wheel-to-wheel motorsport competition since 1909. They were allowed to run in speed trials, during which they were the only car on the track, but not in actual races. However, in 1918, promoters had the idea of putting on women-only races, which circumvented the prospective scandal of women racing against men. The group of drivers hired to take part in these events became known as “The Speederettes”.

“Speederettes” itself sounds like the title of a B-movie, and the story of these drivers would go some way to creating a plot for a film.

The first all-female race of this period took place in February, 1918, at Ascot Park, a dirt track in California. It was not a single event, but a series of speed trials and qualification sessions on Saturday, in support of a “big race” on Sunday. It was promoted as an exciting spectacle, and billed as a “Carnival of Femininity”. There were three main races and a series of support events, for large cars and cyclecars. Seven women are described as having taken part, but only five are regularly named: Mrs. PH Harmon (possibly Marmon), Mrs. CH Wolfeld, Ruth Weightman (also credited as Wightman), Helen Summersby, Mrs. Cecil George, Mrs. Bertie Priest and Nina Vitagliano. Ruth Weightman posted the best times in the speed trials. Nina Vitagliano was driving a Roamer, and suffered a crash before the main event, going through a fence and losing a wheel, despite being very quick. She drove a Mercer cyclecar in an earlier race, and was second to Ruth Weightman. Mrs. Harmon was also racing, and was injured in a crash. The “big race” was won by Mrs. Wolfeld, in a Stutz, who was awarded the Katharine Stinson Trophy, named after the pioneering young aviatrix. Katharine herself provided extra excitement by landing her plane at the racetrack. As well as these races, there was a handicap billed as a “Women’s International Championship”, which was won by Mrs Wolfeld again.

Not much is known about most of the first batch of Speederettes. Ruth Weightman, as mentioned previously, was a pilot. She was only 18 years old at the time, but had connections in the racing world through her cousin, Bill Weightman. Pictures show them together with his cars. Nina Vitagliano was an Italian-American, married to a shipping company boss, with ambitions of more racing, becoming a pilot and driving an ambulance in Europe. If the “Marmon” spelling of her name is correct, it is conceivable that Mrs. Harmon/Marmon was part of the Marmon family, which owned the car manufacturer of the same name, but she may well have been someone completely different. The others are more obscure: Mrs. Wolfeld was married to a shoe shop owner.

The first Speederettes event was a great success, bringing in 10,000 or more spectators. Omar Toft, a sometime racer himself, quickly set about organising a second meeting. It was held in March, at Stockton Park, a mile-long dirt track. The meeting was billed as a “World Championship” for women drivers. At least four women took part. Among them were Ruth Weightman and Nina Vitagliano, who were building up something of a rivalry between them.
The Ascot Park race had utilised lightly-tuned stock cars and some very small cyclecars, but this next instalment of Speederette action was set to involve far more horsepower. Nina and Ruth had the use of what appeared to be some genuine racing cars: Nina had a well-known Stutz (“No. 8”) belonging to Earl Cooper, and Ruth was to drive a Mercer owned by Eddie Pullen. There is now some debate as to whether one or both of these cars were the genuine article, and it is fair to say that a fair amount of downtuning had happened before the event, to allow amateur drivers to get these temperamental machines around the track. Omar Toft himself is said to have told the Speederettes to be careful, especially when overtaking on turns.

Nina Vitagliano

The first race on the programme was a single-lap sprint, which was won by Nina Vitaglioni in the Stutz. The second race was run over five laps, and Ruth Weightman took the lead. Nina tried to overtake her on a bend, lost control of the car, and crashed through a fence and over the bank and ditch surrounding that part of the circuit. It was quite a similar crash to the one she experienced at Ascot Park, but far more serious. She was killed instantly. Her riding mechanic, Bob Currie, and three spectators also died as a result of the accident. The cause of the crash was never fully established, but a tyre blowout may have been the catalyst.

This ended the Speederettes. Ruth Weightman went back to aviation, and the other women who had participated seem to disappear back into their own lives. The events of March 1918 did not help the cause of female drivers with the AAA, the motorsport sanctioning body in the USA, as there was considerable media reporting of the accident, and the accompanying disapproval.

Nevertheless, the Speederettes did manage to inspire some other women to race; in the 1920s, there were other events for female drivers organised, and even some international drivers attended them. However, women would remain prohibited from major competitions in the States for many years, and barred from top-line open-wheel racing until the 1970s.

Nina Vitagliano was apparently much mourned by the California Italian-American community. Interest in her, and the Speederettes, has increased since the publication of some articles about them by Patricia Yongue, Harold Osmer and others. These articles have formed the basis of the research for this post.

Patricia Yongue in Veloce Today: http://www.velocetoday.com/people/people_39.php

(Images from www.coastal181.com and www.velocetoday.com/Stockton Library)

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Stock Car Racing Outside the USA

Carole Perrin

This post is about women drivers racing stock cars outside of the USA, in NASCAR-style series and in Pickup Truck races. These have been a feature of South and Central American racing for many years. More recently, a European NASCAR series has been successfully launched, after a British version did not take off.

Ana (Cecília) Mello - raced in the Stock Paulista championship from 2005 onwards, alongside her sister, Maria Izabel. They shared a car in their first year, but competed against each other after that. She continued to race in the championship until at least 2009. Her best result seems to be a win in the Light category in 2008, driving a Chevrolet Omega. In 2006, she drove an Omega with her sister in the Mil Milhas, finishing 17th. Her other results have proved hard to find, although she was usually strong in the Light class.

Maria Izabel Mello - sister of Ana Mello, who began racing at the same time. She raced her own car from 2006 onwards, although she and Ana were often in the same team. “Bel” seems to have been slightly less competitive than Ana, although she did have the upper hand on her in the 2006 Stock Paulista championship, finishing third in the Light championship to Ana’s fifth. She drove in the 2006 mil Milhas in a Chevrolet Omega, with Ana, Carlos Tigueis Batista and Leandro Mussio. They were 17th overall.

Maria Cristina Moreira - native of Rio de Janeiro who raced in Brazil in the 2000s, mainly in one-make series. In 2001, she participated in the Brazilian Women’s Ford Fiesta Championship, but was not among the front-runners. In 2002, she had a decent season in Pick Up racing (the Fiesta series toured with Pick Ups in 2001), and was eighth in the championship. She also raced in the Renault Clio Cup for at least some of its rounds in 2004, and finished fifteenth, from 25th on the grid, at Autodromo Nelson Piquet. Later, in 2006, she made some appearances in Stock Car racing, in a Yamaha-engine car. She was 16th overall.  

Fernanda Parra - started racing in 2004, in a Chevrolet Omega, in São Paulo. She was 16th in the Light class. The following year, she did her first Mil Milhas race, in the Omega, and was 38th. One of her team-mates was her father, Fernando. In 2006, she raced in the Light class of Brazilian Stock Cars, in a Chevrolet Astra this time. She was 23rd. That year, she also tried sportscar racing, and did four rounds of the Brazilian Trofeo Maserati, finishing fifteenth. A second visit to the Mil Milhas, with Fernando, gave her thirteenth overall, in the Omega again. Her third season of Stock Cars gave her a 36th place, in the Astra, and in 2008, she switched to Pickup racing. She was 18th in the championship after five races. Her last definite major appearance seems to have been one Stock Car race in 2008, where she drove a Mitsubishi Lancer. She may have raced Pickups in 2009, but no results are forthcoming.

Carole Perrin - former single-seater racer from France. After winning the French karting title, she tried ice racing in the Andros Trophy, and was third in the Trophée Féminin. She tried to enter Formula Ford in 2006, but the championship was cancelled. Although she tried to enter the Clio Cup, it was too late and she sat the year out. She returned to the scene in 2008, in the Formula Academy Euroseries. She only entered a few rounds, and crashed heavily in Dubai. She completed the whole series in 2009, but struggled somewhat in the races proper, despite managing fastest laps. As well as the Academy single-seater, she raced a NASCAR-style stock car in the Racecar series in France, finishing third on several occasions. She was 16th in the championship after missing some races. In 2010, she continued in Racecar, finishing fifth in the championship. Driving a Chevrolet Monte Carlo in Racecar in 2011, she scored her first win, although she did not complete the season, and was only 17th overall. Racecar was rebranded Euro Racecar NASCAR in 2012, and Carole stayed in the Elite class. She was 16th overall, with one podium finish: a third at Spa. A single Open class race at Brands Hatch gave her a win. In 2013, she ran a limited programme in Euro NASCAR, in the Elite class. Her best finish was fifth. She was sharing the car with Caty Caly.

Estefania Reyes - NASCAR racer from Mexico. She has been competing in Mexican stock cars since 2007, using a MotorSpeed Dodge. In 2008, she was 28th in the championship after completing ten races. Her best finish was thirteenth, at Queretaro. She was sponsored by Mattel's Barbie in 2007. Previously, she raced single-seaters in Mexico and was a front-runner in the 1600cc class in 2006. She is one of the youngest recorded female racing drivers, having made her debut at fifteen. She sat out the 2009 season after being injured in a road traffic accident, and returned to NASCAR Mexico in 2010, towards the end of the season. She continued in 2011, but only managed four races and struggled with qualification.
Kelly-Jayne Wells - front-runner in Pickup Truck racing in the UK. She has been in Pickups since 2004 and scored outright wins in 2005, 2006 and 2007, in both the Rockingham and UK championships. This is in addition to many top-five places, including a third in her first season. She has won four times overall. Her best championship finish is fourth in the Rockingham series and seventh in the overall championship. Previously, she raced on short ovals from a young age. She also drove a Eurobrun F1 car for a EuroBOSS press day, but did not actually compete. A lack of funding hindered her participation in 2008, but she found a race seat with Hodgson Motorsport for 2009. She drove in the first three meetings, with a best finish of fourth.
(Image from www.julietonelli.com)

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Women Drivers in One-Make Series: Poland

Aleksandra Furgal with her Castrol VW 

In recent years, Polish one-make racing has produced several home-grown female racers. This page will shortly be expanded.

Aleksandra Bursiak - raced in the VW Castrol Cup in 2013, driving a Golf. This was her first season of motorsport, and she was not overly competitive. Her best results were two 19th places, achieved at the Hungaroring and Poznan. She was 23rd overall in the championship. In 2014, she does not appear to have returned to motorsport. Prior to 2013, she worked as a model, and ran a VW dealership with her partner.

Karolina Czapka (Lampel) - Polish driver who has been racing in one-make series in Europe since 2003. Her first racing car seems to have been an Alfa Romeo in 2003, but she has mostly driven Renaults since then, including three runs in the German Clio Cup in 2005, 2006 and 2007. Her best result was 17th, in 2007. More recently, she raced in the DMV Tourenwagen Challenge in Germany, in 2009, and scored at least one class win in her Renault Megane silhouette. The Megane was also her car of choice in 2010, when she drove in the Megane Trophy in Europe. At home, she won class D4 of the Polish Touring Car Championship. In 2011, she won the Renault Race Festival at the Nurburgring. In 2012, she did not compete much, although she did drive in one endurance race at Brno in a Porsche Cayman, and at least some of the Polish Renault Megane Trophy. 

Jolanta Fabijańska -  competed in the Kia Lotos Cup in Poland between 2006 and 2008, driving in the Picanto class. In her first season, she was only 21st. In 2007, she still struggled, and was 25th. In 2008, she got to grips with the car and started visiting the top three. She was tenth overall, and first out of the four female drivers. In addition to circuit racing, Jolanta occasionally takes part in rallying, as a driver and navigator. In 2006, she was 78th in the Rajd Baborka, in another Picanto. Her most recent co-driving seems to be with Wojciech Skrebutenas in 2010, in a Peugeot 106.

Aleksandra (Ola) Furgal - raced mostly in Poland between 2007 and 2013. Between 2007 and 2009, she competed in the Kia Picanto Cup. During her first season, she was 24th, but that improved to fourteenth in 2008, and seventh in 2009. She scored two podium finishes, after having her first one in 2008. In 2010, she moved into the Kia Cee’d Cup. She did not finish on the podium, but was more consistent this year, so was fifth overall. That year, she also did some rally co-driving, and helped Leszek Kuzaj to a win in the Janusz Kulig memorial rallysprint. After a break, she entered the VW Castrol Cup, racing around Central and Eastern Europe. Her best finish was fourteenth, at Poznan, and she pulled out after a DNF in the first race of the Austrian round. She was 22nd overall. She does not appear to be racing in 2014.

Monika Luberadzka - raced in Kia one-make championships between 2006 and 2010. She began in the Picanto Cup. To begin with, she was not on the pace, and she was only 25th in 2006. Her second season was much the same, and she was 26th in the championship. In 2008, she switched to the Cee’d Cup, and was more competitive, with twelfth place in her first season. This was improved to eighth in 2009. That season, she also raced a VW Golf in the Polish Touring Car Championship, for at least some of its rounds, with Karolina Lampel-Czapka. In 2010, she was sixth overall in the Cee’d Cup, just behind Aleksandra Furgal. As well as racing, Monika took part in a couple of rallies, including the 2006 Rajd Baborka, in a Picanto. She has also rallied a Peugeot 206 (in 2009) and a Fiat Seicento. In 2010, she took part in hillclimbs in Slovakia and Italy, as part of the Central European championship. Her car was a Kia Cee’d. She does not appear to have competed since then.

Klara Ruszkowska (Rosłan)- raced a Kia Picanto between 2006 and 2009, in the Kia Picanto Cup, which ran as part of the Kia Lotos Cup for the Picanto and Cee’d. She was 29th in 2006, but then only 38th in 2007, after missing a couple of races. In 2008, she was only able to take part in four races, and was 24th overall. In 2009, she completed a full season, and was a career-best fourteenth. After that, she disappears from the entry lists.

Izabella Szwarczynska - began racing in the Kia Picanto Cup in 2006. She did a full season that year, and was 17th overall. The following year, she only managed five of the eleven races, and was 36th as a result. Her activities after that are a bit vague, although she is recorded as a class winner in the Poznan round of the Polish Racing Cup in 2011. This looks to be a historic racing series. There are some results from earlier, in 2004, for Izabella in the Polish Touring Car Championship. She was sixth in class in a Fiat Seicento. In 2003, she did some racing in the same class, and crashed at least once. She has also done some rallying, including the 2008 Warsaw Rally. She was 16th, in a Renault Clio.

(Image from www.vwracing.pl)

Monday, 2 June 2014

Women Drivers in One-Make Series: Sweden

Female drivers have competed in many of Sweden's one-make series, both past and present. In the 1980s, the Lady Racing Club's women-only events provided several "graduates" to one-make championships.

Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky (pictured) - Swedish driver who began racing in 2011, in historic endurance series, with a VW Polo and Scirocco, and an Audi RS4. In 2012, she started competing in the VW Scirocco-R Cup, based in Germany. In her first season, she was only 19th, but in 2013, she improved that to eighth, with one second place, at the Nürburgring. This was enough to secure her an invite to the FIA Women In Motorsport Commission’s Scirocco-R Shootout, a competition for a fully-funded Scirocco race seat in 2014. She was the runner-up. Aside from the Scirocco-R Cup, she has also raced in the Scandinavian Porsche Carrera Cup, in 2012, and the JTCC Renault Clio Cup in Sweden, in 2013, scoring respectable mid-field positions, and was twelfth overall, in both.  Previously, she competed in karting. She is the daughter of rally driver Susanne Kottulinsky, and grand-daughter of Freddy Kottulinsky, another rally driver.

Eva Bornebusch - mostly raced in one-make series in Sweden and Finland, in the 1980s and 1990s. She began in the Lancia Lady Cup in 1986, where she was eighth. In 1988, she raced a Rover Vitesse, including a run in the Kemora 500km endurance race in Finland. She was seventh, with Janina Österholm and Catta Lindgren. With Karlson and Bokaj, she also made a rare visit to France, for the Nogaro ETCC race, but did not finish. In 1990, she was fourth in the Kemora 500, with her father, Kaj Bornebusch, driving a Ford Sierra RS Cosworth. Both the Rover and the Sierra had originally belonged to him, and Eva apparently raced both of them around Sweden during this time. In 1992, she took part in the Renault Clio Cup of Scandianvia, and was eighth. She returned to the series in 1993, but was fifteenth this time.

Lottie Halvards-Mattsson - one of the early members of Sweden’s Lady Racing Club. She took part in the Mini Lady Cup in at least 1980 and 1981, and possibly before. She was sixth in 1980 and second in 1981. Later, she did some races in the Lancia Lady Cup. In between, she raced in mixed competition in the SSK Trophy and the Vredestein Cup, in an Opel Kadett. She was sixth in the Vredestein Cup in 1982. Lottie was involved with the Magnum Racing team, like the Lindgren sisters,  throughout the early 1980s.

Eva Kjellkvist-Pulls - long-term member of the Swedish Lady Racing Club, who participated in all of the editions of the Lancia Lady Cup, and some of its Mini-based predecessors, in 1979 and 1980.  Her best overall finish was second in the Lancia version, in 1984. After the end of the Lancia Lady Cup, she carried on racing in the Camaro Cup in Sweden, using a Chevrolet Camaro left over from a British racing series. In 1989, her first season, she was thirteenth. Her best finish was eighth, in 1996, which seems to have been her last season.

Helena Larsson - competed in one-make series in both touring and sports cars. After some years in karting, she started her career in 1999, in the Volvo S40 Junior Touring Car Cup. She was thirteenth in her first year. By 2001, she was seventh, having achieved three podiums. In 2002, she bought a Volvo S60 for the STCC-supporting Volvo S60 Challenge. In this series, she was 16th in 2002 and 20th in 2003, running as the only female driver. After that, she made some appearances in the Swedish Radical Championship in 2005 and 2006, before disappearing from the scene. She was in a relationship with fellow driver, Fredrik Hager, whom she beat in the 1999 Junior Touring Cup.

Catta Lindgren - winner of the Lady Opel Cup in Sweden in 1990. Previously, in 1986, she raced in the Lancia Lady Cup, and was sixth overall, with one podium finish. In the 1988 Lady Cup, she was third. In between, she seems to have done some mixed-gender racing, too, including the 1988 Kemora 500 Midnight Sun race in Finland, in which she was seventh, as part of an all-female team with Eva Bornebusch and Janina Österholm, in a Rover Vitesse. She may also have raced in Sweden, in other series of the time. Catta is the sister of Nettan Lindgren.

Laila Riis-Pedersen - a regular in the Camaro Cup in Sweden for many years. She entered at least eight times, between 1992 and 2002. Her best season was 2001, when she was fifth overall. She was also sixth in 1996, and in the top ten three more times. As well as the main Camaro Cup, she also raced her Chevy in other, one-off events, and was sixth in the Solvalla 500 endurance race in 1996.

Sophie West - one-make specialist from Sweden. She began in the Scandinavian Porsche Carrera Cup in 2008, which she described as “too fast”, and then spent two years in the JTCC saloon series, which she described as “too slow”. Her car was a Toyota Auris, and her best finish was sixth, in the first round of the 2010 championship. She was 18th in 2009 and 16th in 2010, after a few top tens and in 2010, several missed rounds and DNFs. In 2011, she began racing in the Scandinavian Trofeo Abarth 500, where she found more form. After her first season, she was eleventh, with a best finish of seventh at Anderstorp and six further top ten places. In 2012, she only contested five rounds of the Swedish series, with a best finish of fifth at Karlskoga, but was ninth overall. She also entered some European Trofeo Abarth rounds, but information about these is not forthcoming.

(Image from www.redakt.se)

Friday, 30 May 2014

Eija Jurvanen

Eija and her navigator, Kari Jokinen, with the Sierra Cosworth in 1995

Eija Jurvanen was born in Finland in 1958. She seems to be rather a private lady, and not much biographical information is available about her. It is not even completely clear when she began her motorsport career.
By 1988, she was rallying in Finland, driving a Ford Escort. Results for this year are proving very hard to track down, but pictures exist of her on the Riihimaki Rally, rolling the Escort. The car is listed in some places as belonging to Eija and Ari Jurvanen, so it looks like she was from a rallying family. At various points in her career, she was sponsored by Teboil, a Finnish petroleum company with a long history of supporting rally drivers.
She started competing more seriously in 1989, when her name appears in the entry list for the Arctic Rally. She was 35th, driving an Audi 80 Quattro, co-driven by Marjo Berglund, who would be one of her most frequent navigators during her career. However, for the rest of the season, Maarit Laine sat beside her. They did the Rajd Polski in Poland together, and Eija’s first 1000 Lakes Rally. They did not finish either. She did do some other rallies in the Finnish championship, including the Nurmijarvi Rally and the NSM-Talvi Rally.
In 1990, she started competing in a Ford Sierra RS Cosworth, which is the car most associated with her. With Marjo Berglund, she secured her first 1000 Lakes finish, a 38th place, tenth in class.
She used the same car in 1991, and started the year with 28th in the Arctic Rally. A trip to Germany for the Rally Deutschland ended in retirement, but not long after, she bettered her 1000 Lakes result to 29th, 17th in Group A8. She must have taken part in some more Finnish rallies, whose results are not forthcoming; she is recorded as that year’s Finnish Ladies’ champion. There were a few strong female contenders during the early 1990s, such as Minna Sillankorva and Anne Vuorio, so this was a bit of an achievement.
In 1992, she made her move onto the World Rally Championship stages. With some impressive sponsorship in place, she entered seven WRC rounds, with the express aim of capturing the FIA Ladies’ title. For her first rally, Sweden, she drove a Mitsubishi Galant, and was 17th overall, running in Group N. After a gap, she drove the Group A-spec Sierra in the 1000 Lakes, and was 16th, her best finish there yet. She retired from the Rally of Australia, in the Sierra, and was beaten to the Ladies’ award by Jacquiline Dines, but as Jacquiline rarely competed outside Oceania, this did not affect her Ladies’ chances too much. She only had to start one non-European rally to qualify. A drive in the Bandama-Cote d’Ivoire Rally in a Mitusbishi Starion also ended in retirement, as it did for many of the crews, that year and other years. Back in the Sierra, she was 15th in Catalunya, one place ahead of Christine Driano, another rival. Another retirement from the RAC Rally, in the Sierra, was not enough for her to lose her official FIA Ladies’ championship. She only had to start seven events to retain her eligibility, and she retired very early on. This had also been the case in the Sanremo Rally.
After her WRC year, she went back to competing in Finland and northern Europe, still in the Sierra. In the snowy Hankiralli, she was ninth, her best result so far. She followed this up with 15th in the 1000 Lakes, eleventh in class. Much later in the year, in November, she travelled to nearby Estonia for the Saaremaa Rally. The trip paid off, as she won the event outright, and made history as the first female driver to do so. Although the Estonian championship was still finding its feet after the fall of the Eastern Bloc, this was still a win, and will have gone some way towards restoring credibility lost through her somewhat mercenary behaviour in 1992. She won by over a minute to her nearest rival, another Finn, Mikko Kallionaa, in a Mitsubishi Galant.
In 1994, she stuck to Finnish rallies, using the Sierra Cosworth. Even on the more competitive Finnish stage, her results continued to improve, with a twelfth in the Arctic Rally a decent start to the season. In the summer, she was 16th in the 1000 Lakes Rally, tenth in class. She also seems to have driven in other Finnish rallies, although the results are hard to find. As well as rallying, she did some driver training for the Teboil team, instructing other female drivers.
Things continued in the same vein in 1995, although she split her season between Finland and Estonia again. She was 17th in the Arctic Rally at Rovaniemi, then went over to Estonia for the Tallinn-Neste Rally, and was eighth. In September, she was fifth in the Lõuna-Eesti Rally. She did make a return to the Saaremaa Rally, but did not finish this time due to a broken clutch. In Finland, she also retired from the 1000 Lakes Rally. Away from international events, she took part in some more Finnish rallies, including the Talviralli in Jyväskylä.
1995 was her last year of competition, and after that, she fades from the motorsport scene, having achieved her ambition to take the FIA Ladies’ title. Her erstwhile rival, Minna Sillankorva, had re-taken her crown as Finland’s foremost female driver.
(Image from http://suomenmuseotonline.fi/)