Monday, 2 March 2015

Ewy Rosqvist

(Image from

Ewy was a Swedish driver of the 1950s and 1960s. She was the only woman to drive for the Mercedes rally team, and is most famous for her win in the “Argentine Grand Prix” Rally in 1962.

Ewy was born in 1929, and grew up in a comfortably-off Swedish farming family. Her first love was animals. She attended agricultural college and after finishing her course, worked for a local veterinary surgeon. Supported by him, she undertook some veterinary training in Stockholm. It was while she was there that she learned to drive. After gaining the necessary certificates, she worked alongside the vet, as an assistant. This necessitated her first car, a Mercedes-Benz 170 S, as she had to drive miles between farms, to assist the vet with livestock care. She became adept at driving long distances on challenging terrain, often at speed, and also learned how to handle and maintain her car in these conditions. This was a good foundation for her future rally career.

Her first taste of rallying came in 1954, when she was a passenger in a three-man team on the Midnight Sun Rally. The two drivers were her husband, Yngve, and her father-in-law, although she did drive a little on some of the road sections. After this, she was determined to enter a rally herself.

It was not until 1956 that she took to the stages herself, although she and Yngve did do various motor club navigational challenges together. She entered the Midnight Sun Rally, with Majbritt Clausson on the maps. They did not finish. The make of their car is not recorded, but it is likely to be a Saab. This was Ewy’s biggest event of the year, but she was active in smaller rallies, whenever finances and work schedules allowed it.

In 1957, she spent a year rallying a Saab 93, which was one of the cars to have in Sweden at the time. Her usual co-driver was her sister-in-law, Anita Rosqvist. As well as driving her own car, she did some navigation, including one rally with her husband. They were 25th in the 1000 Lakes Rally.

Her Saab only lasted a year, and she chose a car from its Swedish rival, Volvo, for 1958. During her first year, she mainly competed in Scandinavia, in various rallies, but in 1959, she became more ambitious, and started looking towards an international career. After a first win in the Ladies’ class of the Midnight Sun Rally, Ewy and Anita weighed up their chances of a win in the European Ladies’ Championship, against the formidable Pat Moss, who was capable of outright wins. They racked up Coupes des Dames in the Viking Rally and the 1000 Lakes, in their Volvo 1600, plus a strong finish in Poland. Ewy was third in Germany, but Pat won the ladies’ prize, putting her almost level.

The Ladies’ championship points were not calculated solely on points scored within rallies. Drivers had to enter a certain number of rallies to be considered, and they received some points for each start. Pat Moss had skipped some events, allowing Ewy to get the lead in the rankings. The championship would be decided at the RAC Rally, which both drivers had elected to contest. Disaster struck for Ewy; shortly after her arrival in England, she became very ill, and ended up in hospital. She thought that this was the end of her Ladies’ title hopes, but as it happened, Pat Moss also withdrew from the rally, handing Ewy her first of three Ladies’ Cups.

1960 was something of a turning point in Ewy’s rally career. She began the year with her first run in the Monte Carlo Rally, still driving her own Volvo 1600. She was fifth in the Ladies’ class, a long way behind Pat Moss. However, by May, she had the bonus of works support from the Volvo team, and a new PV544. Ewy and Anita won the Ladies’ Cup in the Acropolis Rally, and were 15th overall.  In August, they followed this up with another Coupe des Dames in the 1000 Lakes Rally, and were 29th. Ewy retained her Viking Rally ladies’ title, and also travelled to Poland for the first time, for the Rajd Polski, which she did not finish. The battle with Pat Moss was on again, but it came down to technical arbitration, rather than results on the road. Pat’s car was judged to have been placed in the wrong class, and she was no longer eligible. Ewy could have benefitted, but the FIA decided not to award the European Ladies’ Cup this year.

Her new professional status would have been very welcome to Ewy; after combining rallying and veterinary work since 1956, she finally parted company with her surgery, due to being unable to commit her time to her old job.

There was more change in 1961. Anita was pregnant, and sat out most of the season. Ewy teamed up with Monika Wallraf, a German who also raced on the circuits. Their first event together was the Monte Carlo Rally, in a Volvo 122. They got to the finish in 56th place, ahead of Ewy’s arch-rival, Pat Moss, but behind Anne Hall, who won the Coupe des Dames. They ran well in the Alpine Rally, close to the leading drivers, and won another Ladies’ Prize. In August, Ewy won another one in Poland, partnered by Eugenia Wolko this time. Back with Monika, she was the fastest lady in the 1000 Lakes Rally, in a 544, and was 19th overall. She also participated in the RAC Rally, with another new navigator, Ursula Wirth, but her best result had come in May. She was seventh in the Acropolis Rally, in the 544, her first international top ten. A total of nine ladies’ awards, in different rallies, gave her another European Ladies’ Cup. Pat Moss was now concentrating on outright wins, and there were new female rivals to overcome.

She started the year with the Monte Carlo Rally in a Volvo in 1962, but shortly afterward, she was approached by Mercedes, who offered her a professional driver’s contract, after months of rumours. Her first major rally as a Mercedes works driver was the Tulip Rally, in a 220 SE. It was a tough start for her and Ursula, and they were 48th overall. Her erstwhile rival, Pat Moss, was the winner. In the summer, she was 20th in the 1000 Lakes Rally, and a pleasing sixth on a car-breaking Polish Rally. However, her greatest achievement, and probably the greatest of her entire career, came in the autumn.  She won the Gran Premio Internacional Standard Supermovil YPF (Touring Car Grand Prix) outright in Argentina. This was not a race, but a long-distance rally, held over ten days in the rugged Argentine plains.  Ewy not only won the rally, but won every single stage along the way, avoided mechanical disasters, and even weathered the death of her team-mate, Hermann Kühne. Her experience as a roving veterinary assistant in rural Sweden had found an unlikely use.

Ewy and Ursula in Argentina (Image from

The experience, although it must have been thrilling, was also a wearying one, and made her consider seriously whether she wanted to continue with rallying afterwards. By this time, her marriage to Yngve was over, and she was exhausted. She sat out the season-ending RAC Rally.

Over the winter break, she decided to continue. The Monte was never her best event, but she won the Ladies’ Cup in 1963, in the Mercedes 220 SE, with Ursula Wirth on the maps. She was 16th overall. Between then and the Acropolis Rally in May, she and Ursula parted company temporarily. Ewy’s co-driver in Greece was Heikke Krause, a German. They were twelfth. An electrical fault put her out of the Alpine Rally in June, then a rare accident dropped her from the Polish Rally standings. Later in the year, she and Ursula teamed up again, to defend their Argentine title. Despite a strong performance, they were third overall.

In between, she had her first taste of international touring car racing, driving a Mercedes 220 SE, with Ursula and Eberhard Mahle, in the Nürburgring 6 Hours. They were fifth overall, and won their class.

1964 began in a similar way. The 220 SE was still competitive, although newer Mercedes models were being used by other members of the team, and the BMC Minis were starting to come into their own. Ewy, assisted by her new regular co-driver, Eva Maria Falk, was a disappointing 38th in Monte Carlo, just behind Sylvia Osterberg. Snow was never her best surface, despite being from a Nordic country. In a warmer location, Portugal, she was fifteenth in the ACP International Rally. Then it was time for the Acropolis, a rough rally which suited Ewy’s measured, but quick, driving style. She was fifth. Later, she was sixth in the Spa-Sofia-Liège Rally, another tough marathon event. Her last rally of the year was another trip to Argentina, where she was third again.

Shortly afterward, she announced her retirement, at the age of 35. She joked with the Argentine media about becoming a housewife and learning to cook, but as she was preparing to marry Baron Alexander von Korff, head of the Mercedes competition department and hereditary peer, this was probably unnecessary.

Although Ewy never competed seriously again, she remained involved with the motoring scene, was a test driver, and to this day, acts as a brand ambassador for Mercedes. When not involved with Mercedes, she worked as a multilingual tour guide in a museum in Stuttgart.
She was immensely popular in both Sweden and Argentina, and was the subject of many newspaper articles and TV sections. She was Swedish Sportswoman of the Year in 1961. Both Ewy and Ursula, despite their love for the toughest of terrain, were always well-dressed and ready for a photo opportunity, long before this was standard practice for international motorsport stars.

Ewy is now a widow, and lives in Stockholm, after some time spent in Germany.

(This piece owes a lot to, a fan page created with Ewy’s co-operation.)

Thursday, 5 February 2015

The San Isidro Rallye Femenino

Gloria Castresana Waid (left) and Paquita Delgado Sánchez, in 1967

Spain’s answer to the long-running Paris-St. Raphaël Rally in France had its first edition in 1967. It ran in May, as part of the city of Madrid’s traditional San Isidro festivities.

The rally was 175 kilometres long, and the route went from the centre of Madrid, to the bullring at San Pedro Arena, near Avila. It was run as a regularity test, with a 50km/h speed limit. There were also slalom sections and high-speed sections, at least one of which was held at the Jarama circuit, which had just opened.

The first Rallye enjoyed quite a large amount of sponsorship, from the Coca-Cola Corporation, Iberia Airlines and a number of local businesses, who provided prizes. It was organised by the Sociedad Internacional de Azafatas (International Society of Hostesses, a trade body for promotional and hospitality workers) and the Spanish Royal Automobile Club. Lili Alvarez, a former tennis champion and female sporting icon, was one of its spokespeople, who included Juan Antonio Samaranch, then the Minister in charge of sporting activities.

Sixty crews entered. Makes and models of their cars are not usually recorded in contemporary accounts. A few were from motorsport backgrounds, including Gloria Castresana Waid, an established rally driver. She partnered “Miss Spain”, Paquita Delgado Sánchez, in a Mini. They won the Slalom section and the regularity section. The rest of the field was made up of “society” girls, minor celebrities and also, adventurous Madrid-based women with a car, who wanted to have a go.

The event was not taken entirely seriously. One stage involved the drivers getting out of their cars and tying a tie on a waiting man. Some competitors claimed that their rivals were stopping to meet their boyfriends for drinks en route.

It was possibly for these reasons that the Rallye was not covered as extensively by the media in 1968. It was temporarily cancelled for the 1969 season.

It ran six times between 1967 and 1973; by 1970, it was part of a Spanish women’s championship (which will be covered by a later post). By now, it was run as a conventional rally, and attracted regular rally drivers to take part. After 1973, it disappears from the official women’s rally championship calendar.

Later, it is referred to as the Rallye Automovilistico Femenino SIASA, then the Rallye SIASA. By then, it had extended to 200km in length, and had two regularity sections and three speed tests: two hillclimbs and one circuit race. The numbers of crews fluctuated, from 23 to over a hundred.

A complete list of winners does not seem to be available, and this matter is confused by there being several awards made during each rally.

1967 Carmen Gimeno/Cristina Gimeno
1968 ?
1970 Marisol Rodriguez Mesa/Maria Teresa Rodriguez Mesa (Mini 1275)
1971 Aurora Fierro/Belén Agosti (Alfa Romeo 1300 GT Junior)
1972 Gloria Gascuñana/Maria de Jesús Urrutia (SEAT 1430)
1973 Nuria Viñas/Ana Maria Garreta (BMW 2002 Ti)

I would be interested to learn more about this rally, not least the winner of the 1969 event.

(Image copyright Gloria Castresana Waid)

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Women in UK Rallycross

Paige Bellerby

This post has been split off from the original Women in Rallycross post, with some additions. Shelley Wakeling, Sue Jeffery and Amy Binks have their own posts.

Paige Bellerby - began racing in the BTRDA Junior Rallycross Championship in the winter of 2009, before tackling the full championship in 2010. She scored one win at Blyton, and four second places. At the end of the season, she won the title, due to her consistent presence in finals. In 2011, she moved up to the Swift Sport junior rallycross series, and was third overall, with a best finish of third. She moved on to senior competition in 2012, in the form of the Swift Sport Cup. Her best finish was fourth, at Pembrey, and she was eighth overall. In 2013, she moved up to the senior Swift series, but only managed to compete in the last round, at Croft. After sitting out most of 2014 as well, Paige returned to action at Pembrey, driving a Lotus Exige in the SuperNational class of the British championship. She is the daughter of multiple rallycross champion Dave Bellerby.

Suzi Brailsford – raced a Vauxhall Nova in a one-make championship class of the British championship, in 1990 and 1991. In 1991, she won a race at Lydden Hill, but was later disqualified. She also raced a Nissan Sunny at some point, possibly a little later. Details of her career are proving hard to track down.
Beccy Holland - drove in rallycross events in the UK between 2004 and 2006. Her car was a Peugeot 205 GTi, which she raced in the Stock Hatch class. She started out in the Winter series in 2004, before tackling some of the main season. In 2005, she only qualified for one “A” Final, but was competitive in “B” Finals. The following year she reached three British Championship (BRDA) finals and was tenth overall in the championship. She does not appear to have competed since then. 

Samantha O’Flanagan - has driven in Minicross in British championships since at least 2008. In 2010, she was seventh in the Minicross Open Championship. This was the same position in which she finished in 2009. Her best finish in a single round was sixth. In 2010, she improved this to fifth. She was sixth in the 2011 championship, with a best finish of fourth. In 2013, she may have competed in Classic Minicross, but her results are not forthcoming. She remains in the sport as an administrative member of the Minicross Drivers' Association.

Tina Pinder (Scott) - one of Britain’s leading contemporary female rallycross drivers. In 2005, she drove a Peugeot 205 in the Stock Hatch class, with a best finish of fourth in BRDA events. She maintained her momentum the following year, qualifying for some “A” Finals and finishing eighth in the championship, driving both the 205 and a Peugeot 106. This was despite a dramatic crash at the Croft round. The 106 was upgraded to a 206 in 2007, and Tina was eleventh in Stock Hatch. She switched to a Citroen C2 for the 2008 season and was rewarded with second in the small but competitive Stock Hatch B class. She won the Super Modified title in 2009. 

Tania Wilson (Jeffery) – made a comeback in 2009, driving a Peugeot 205 in the Revivals class of the British Championship. She scored some decent finishes, just out of the top three. Previously, she had competed in the contemporary championships in the late 1990s, although details of this are not readily available. She and Sue Jeffery are sisters.

(Image from

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Women in National Sportscar Racing: the UK

Chloe and Jade Edwards

This post has been split off from Women in National Sportscar Racing, with some additions.

Jean Bloxam - mainly raced Aston Martins in Britain, in the 1950s. Beginning in 1952, she drove DB2 and DB3 models, mainly in National-level races at Silverstone and Goodwood. She was very successful at this level, with her first wins coming in 1956: a Ladies’ Handicap at Goodwood and a Closed Car Handicap at Silverstone. In the latter, she managed to beat Jeff Uren. The Ladies’ win was achieved in a Lotus Mark VIII. Other cars raced by Jean included a Ford Anglia and MG Magnette. Despite her string of strong finishes in National events, she only got to race in one big event, the 1967 Nürburgring 1000km. She and Patsy Burt drove an MGA, but had to retire with mechanical problems. Jean retired in 1961, after the death of her husband, Roy, at Goodwood.

Angela Brown – raced in the early to mid-1950s. She almost always drove Aston Martin cars, which is unsurprising, given that her father was David Brown. Her best year was 1954; at a Silverstone meeting in July, she won a relay handicap with Reg Parnell, and was second in two other handicap races. Her car was a DB2. In 1955, she drove a DB3 and a DB2/4 around the UK, but did not fare quite as well, although she held her own and managed some class wins. This year, she drove a HWM-Jaguar belonging to George Abecassis in the Brighton Speed Trials, finishing well in the Ladies' class. She is also described as racing a Morris Minor at some point. Following her marriage to George Abecassis, she wound down her racing. Later, she owned racehorses. She died in 2000.

Vicki Butler-Henderson - better-known as a UK TV presenter and journalist, but raced in a number of saloon and sportscar series when she was younger. She did a full season in the Pentel Ginetta series in 2004. In 2004 she and Matthew Marsh also won a round of the Grand Prix-supporting Maserati Corse championship. Their car was a Coupe Cambiocorse. As well as this, she has driven and navigated in rallies, usually as part of her TV work. She has navigated for Louise Goodman and driven a Peugeot 206 in a British Championship round. Tiff Needell was her co-driver.

Valerie Diederichs - raced a Caterham in the UK between 2002 and 2004, as part of the Caterham Graduates programme. She moved up to Mega-Graduates in 2004 and won two "Best Improver" awards for advancing on her grid position, although she did not manage to get on to the podium. As well as Caterham Academy events, she also did some club racing. Until 2013, she was an aerodynamicist for the Mercedes Grand Prix team.

Chloe Edwards - began her career in the Playstation 2 Ginetta Junior series in 2005, continuing into 2006. Her finishing record was good. In 2007 and 2008, she did some club saloon racing in an MG ZR, finishing midfield in Class B of the BARC/Dunlop SportMaxx Cup. She was racing with her father, Jim Edwards, a former BTCC driver. In 2010, she raced in the Max5 championship for Mazda MX-5s. She did not race for three years before taking part in the Aston Martin GT4 Challenge in 2014. She won the last round, at Donington, along with her sister.

Jade Edwards - younger sister of Chloe Edwards. She began racing in 2006, using her sister’s old Ginetta. Her best result appears to have been fourth, at the Ginetta Junior Festival in 2006. Later, she shared her Chloe’s MG ZR for the SportMaxx Cup, and the pair occasionally drove together. They competed against each other in the 2010 Max5 Championship. Both sisters hope to find enough sponsorship to compete in the Renault Clio Cup. In 2011, Jade returned to Max5 with the family team. She had to sit out the mid-part of the season due to crashing her car at Rockingham and the engine blowing up at Donington. However, she managed some top-ten finishes in class. In 2012, she was 37th in the championship, with a best finish of two third places, plus nine more top tens. She did not run a whole season. In 2014, she made a comeback, driving a Ginetta G55 in the British GT4 championship. She took part in three races, finishing two of them, with a best finish of ninth, at Spa. Later in the season, she made a guest appearance in the Aston Martin GT4 Challenge at Donington, with Chloe. They won their race.

Emily Fletcher – raced between 2008 and 2012, usually in a Ginetta. She drove a G20 in the 2008 Havoline Ginetta Championship, and had a best finish of thirteenth, at Mallory Park. She had several DNFs, and was 26th overall. In 2009, she did some races in the G50 Cup at Brands Hatch, as well as having a better season in the G20 series. She broke into the top ten on three occasions, at Knockhill and Donington, had a perfect finishing record and was thirteenth in the championship. After that, she competed less, and got some unwelcome attention when she temporarilylost her driving license, for speeding. She participated in the Britcar 24 Hours three times, from 2010 to 2012, twice in a Ginetta G50. Her best result came in a Marcos Mantis, in 2011, driving for the Topcats team. She and her three team-mates were eighth.

Flick Haigh – long-time Caterham racer, now competing in VdeV in France. She started in the Caterham Classic Graduates series in 2007, and was seventh in her first year. In her second, she was fifth, and she won the series in 2009. Between 2010 and 2013, she raced in the Caterham R300 Superlight Championship, finishing seventh overall in 2010 and 2012. During this time, she also raced a Ginetta in some Britcar endurance races, as well as in the Dubai 24 Hours in 2013. She was 27th in a G50. In 2014, she partnered Sarah Reader in a Juno prototype, in the VdeV Endurance Challenge. Their best overall result was ninth, at Paul Ricard, although they scored well in class. They were 39th overall. In 2015, Flick took part in her second Dubai 24 Hours, driving an Aston Martin Vantage for Speedworks Motorsport. She was third in the SP3 class, 29th overall, driving with Paul O’Neill, Devon Modell and Paul Gilbert.

Rebecca Jackson - best known for racing Porsches in the UK, and for her “Project Le Mans” plan. Her first Porsche was a 924, in 2011, which she raced in the BRSCC’s Porsche championship, finishing eighth. Her best finish was fifth, at Oulton Park. Having gained valuable experience, she was fourth in 2012, having scored her first win at Snetterton, as well as a second and third. For 2013, she swapped the 924 for a production-class Boxter, remaining in the same championship, but a different class. She won the class comfortably, and was 19th overall, six places above her nearest Boxter rival. In 2014, she planned to move into the Race Spec Boxter class, the highest level of Porsche  club competition. However, she opted for the Cartek Roadsports Endurance Series, a production-based championship, run by the 750MC. Her best results were two fifth places, at Snetterton and Silverstone, and she struggled a little with non-finishes and car development issues. However, her performances were enough to earn her some good Class B finishes, including a second at Snetterton. Later in the season, she drove in the Birkett Six Hour Handicap Relay, as part of Team Turtle Wax, all driving Porsches or Ginettas. They were fifth on handicap, and 22nd on scratch, winning their class. Rebecca hopes to move further up the Porsche racing ladder in 2015, with a view to a Le Mans seat in 2016. Away from actual racing, she is a motoring journalist and broadcaster.

Fiona James - began racing in 2007, driving a Radical SR4 to some class wins in Britsports. After that, she switched to a Ginetta G50, and competed for the next two seasons in both the British GT Cup and the Dutch Supercar Challenge, running part-time campaigns in each.  In 2010, she and the In2Racing team entered Britcar in the Ginetta. This included the season-ending Britcar 24 Hours, although they did not manage to finish. In 2011, she drove a Lamborghini Gallardo in Britsports, as part of the Panic team. She only managed to drive in the first round, and the car suffered a fire. Later in the season, she drove the Gallardo in the Barcelona 24 Hours, and was 41st overall, second in class. In 2012, she moved back to the Netherlands for the Dutch Supercar series, still in the Gallardo, but had to cut her season short, due to a skiing injury. She was ninth overall. She was meant to return in 2013, but does not appear to have raced. In 2014, she took part in the world's longest race, the Maxi Endurance 32h, at Algarve. She was second in the Sport class, driving a BMW M3 with four other British drivers. 

Jodie Kidd - raced in the Maserati Trofeo in 2004 and won a round at Bologna with Fabio Babini. Since then, she has taken part in several “Gumball”-style road rally events, but no more actual races. She is better known as a fashion model.

Caroline Lucas - raced GTs in the UK in the mid to late 1990s. She was second in the 1995 Porsche Cup and entered the British GT championship in 1998 and 1999. In 1998, she and Diane Osborne finished some races in a Porsche 911 RSR run by PK Sport. In the two races they managed to finish, Spa and Silverstone, they were eleventh and thirteenth. In 1999, she and Paul Phillips entered a few races in a similar car. Their best finish was one ninth place, at Donington. Caroline does not appear to have raced since then.

Charlotte Osborn (Gilbert) – raced in British GTs in 2001 in a Promotasport Marcos Mantis, after some races in Marcos one-make series. Her co-driver was Andrew Davies. Their finishing record was patchy to begin with, but they managed a twelfth place at Croft as their best finish. Their reliability improved towards the end of the year. Since then, she has occasionally taken part in Britcar, in a Marcos Mantis Cup or GT4, as part of Topcats Racing, a team she runs with Warren Gilbert.

Diane Osborne - drove a Porsche 911 RSR in the British GT championship with Caroline Lucas in 1998. Their best finish was eleventh, at Spa. Previously, she had been third in class in the 1995 Pirelli Porsche Cup, driving a 944S2, and raced a Porsche 968CS at Castle Combe. She came twelfth in the Porsche Open Trophy. Presumably, she took part in other races in this championship as well.

Jade Paveley - had her first year of competition in 2010, aged seventeen. She was racing in Britcar, in a Mazda UK Mazda MX-5 run by Jota Motorsport. Her usual team-mate was David Hooper. The car was lacking in power compared to others in its class, so Jade was unable to challenge for outright or even class wins, but she became the youngest person to finish a 24-hour race at the season-ending Britcar 24 Hours at Silverstone. In 2011, her actual racing programme was quite limited, although significant. She tested with the Lotus F1 team as a crew member, and also crewed for the Mazda team during the Valencia 6 Hours. In return, she drove for Mazda in the Snetterton 12 Hour race, and was second overall, first in class. She also entered some MX-5 Cup races as a Mazda guest driver. As well as this, she undertook various pieces of media work, including captaining a driving squad for a TV show. This approach continued in 2012: she was based in Ireland for some Formula Ford races with the Murphy Prototypes team, mainly working as a development driver. She also drove a Mazda prototype at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and undertook some other testing. In 2013, she was linked with a Mini Challenge drive, which does not seem to have happened. She drove in some club events, including the Birkett 6-Hour Relay. In 2014, she switched full-time to rallying, after one event in 2013. She competed around the UK in a Subaru Impreza and a Mitsubishi Lancer, with a best finish of fifteenth, in the Glyn Memorial Stages.

Louise Richardson - former karter, who began "senior" motorsport by competing in the Ginetta Junior series. She began racing the Ginetta in 2009, and was ninth in the championship that year after a string of late-season top five finshes. In 2010, she returned as a much more competitive driver. She finished third in the 2010 championship, thanks to two wins at Snetterton and Brands Hatch and a series of eleven podium places. 2010 was her last season of junior competiton, as she turned 17. In 2011, she moved into the senior Ginetta Supercup, and was sixth in the championship after three top-three finishes. She was also recommended for a series of awards for young and female drivers. In 2012, she was seventh in the Ginetta G50 Supercup, after four top-ten finishes. Although she only did a part-season in the G50 Supercup in 2013, she certainly made her presence felt, winning four of her five races, and finishing on the podium in all of them. She was fourth overall. In 2014, she changed direction, entering the British Formula Ford championship. She scored many top-ten positions, the best of them being a fourth place, at Rockingham. She was ninth overall.

"Valli" Stack (real name Valerie Stack ?) - 1970s saloon racer, and Biba model, who managed to claim some good race finishes and a string of lap records too. She raced between 1975 and 1977, driving an MG Midget, Lotus Europa and Triumph TR7 with Biba sponsorship. Her lap records were set in 1976, and were class records, presumably in the Midget. She won the BWRDC's award for the most successful woman driver in 1976, as well as its Best Newcomer award. She raced the TR7 in 1977 and is reported to have come second in at least one Production Sports race at Croft. She disappeared from the scene after 1977.

Julie Thwaites - competed at club and National level in the UK in the 1980s, with considerable success. She scored her first class win in the Garelli Sportscar Championship in 1982, and later went on to achieve nine more in 1986 and 1987, driving a Davrian in the Kit Car Challenge. She was recognised as Britain’s most successful female circuit driver in 1985 and 1986.

(Image from

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Winter Break

Speedqueens is undergoing its yearly update and clean-up, so there won't be any new posts for a while.

See you in the New Year!

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Elizabeth Jones

Liz in 1964, in Minsk

Elizabeth Jones, born Rosemary Jones, in Newbridge, Wales, raced a Mini and other cars in international saloon races in the 1960s. She always raced under her own family name, and was often referred to as “Liz” in race reports.
She graduated from the Cooper Racing School in 1960, as one of its six most promising students. She was thirty years old, and was probably one of the oldest in the group. Using a car run by the School, she entered some Formula Junior races that year, and finished eighth in a race at Silverstone.
In 1961, she moved on to GT racing, in her own Austin-Healey 3000. She raced at Snetterton twice that year, and was second and fourth in class. In September, she took part in the Autosport 3 Hours, also held at Snetterton. Her finishing position has been lost, but she was racing against Porsches and Jaguar D-Types. According to Christabel Carlisle, a rival of the time, she took part in at least one Ladies’ Handicap race at Brands Hatch that year.
In 1962, she stuck with BMC-made cars, but exchanged the powerful and brutish Healey for the first of her series of Minis. She entered some rounds of the British Saloon Car Championship, starting at Silverstone. Her Mini was a Cooper model, prepared by the Downton Engineering team, an established tuning company. She was fourth in class at Silverstone, then twelfth overall at Aintree, in the British Grand Prix support race.
She was thirteenth overall, and second in class in the 1962 Brands Hatch 6 Hours in 1962, alongside Alan Mann and Tony Hegbourne in a Ford Anglia.  This was a double drive, as she also recorded a DNF in her own Mini, which she was sharing with rally driver, Pauline Mayman.
1963 started in a similar vein. She was fourth in class in her first BSCC race, also at Silverstone, also in a Mini. Her second appearance was at Crystal Palace, for the Small Car Trophy, and she was seventh overall. Unusually, four female drivers started this race, including Christabel Carlisle, whose career took her in most of the same directions as Liz. At Silverstone, for the Grand Prix support race, she joined up with Alexander Engineering, another preparation and tuning firm, driving one of their Mini Coopers. Unfortunately, the car developed mechanical trouble, and Liz had to retire. Her second outing in the Alexander Mini, at Brands Hatch, ended in a 16th place.
In the middle of the season, she took part in the Brands Hatch Six Hours, driving for Alexander Engineering, in the Mini. Her team-mate was the Finnish rally champion, Timo Mäkinen. They were 18th overall. Early on, Liz led her class, but bad weather and hard-charging other drivers dropped them to second, behind John Aley and Rauno Aaltonen.
Liz also accepted another one-off drive in the Tour de France, in a Mini, but a works BMC Mini this time. She was sharing the car with Pauline Mayman. Christabel Carlisle was slated to be part of the team, but did not compete in the end. The engine of the Mini did not last until the end.
 For 1964, her partnership with the Alexander Engineering team continued. In the BSCC, it was something of an underwhelming year, with some non-finishes. Once again, her best race was the Small Car Trophy at Crystal Palace. Liz was fifth, in a race completely dominated by Mini Coopers, like her own. Otherwise, her strongest finish was at Brands Hatch, in the Guards Trophy meeting. She was fourteenth overall. Throughout the season, a rivalry between her and Anita Taylor, who also drove a Mini, was stirred up a little by the press. It was true that Liz and Anita were sometimes competing directly for places, but other drivers, including Anita’s brother, Trevor Taylor, were often involved.
Alexander Engineering also provided a Mini for Liz for the Brands Hatch 6 Hours, which she shared with the American driver, Denise McCluggage. They retired, due to an accident. This was not a race for the Mini; several of them fell by the wayside, or underachieved, in this wet race.
In July, Liz seems to have accepted a drive with the British Vita team for the Spa 24 Hours. She shared a Mini Cooper with Harry Ratcliffe, but engine failure on lap seven put paid to any chance of success.
She was also a rally co-driver, who sat beside several different drivers in the RAC and Monte Carlo rallies. The cars were BMC models. She began in 1962, in major rallies anyway, sitting alongside Daphne Freeman in the RAC Rally. The car was a Mini. In 1964, in another Mini, she accompanied Shelagh Aldersmith for the Monte Carlo Rally. Shelagh, competing alongside the BMC works drivers in a private car, joined the team in starting from Minsk, in Belarus, which was then behind the Iron Curtain. They did not finish. After her circuit career ended, Liz continued in rallying, and took the wheel herself in the 1965 Monte Carlo Rally. Her co-driver in her Mini was Patricia Ozanne.
Her motorsport career seems to end here. Some time later, Liz moved to America, and became a well-known breeder of Mastiffs, under her married name of Degerdon. In 1989, she was charged with animal cruelty by the US authorities, and remains a controversial figure in the Mastiff breeding world.
She returned to the UK, where she continued to live until her death in 2010, at the age of 70.
(This post is heavily indebted to the research of Radnorian.)
(Image from

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Nicole Sol

Nicole Sol, left, with Yvette Fontaine, in 2013

Nicole Sol raced in Europe, mainly in Belgium, in the late 1960s. She was a contemporary and rival of Yvette Fontaine and Christine Beckers, although she is not as well-known as either of them.
Nicole got her start in motorsport in quite an orthodox way. She enrolled in the Volant Shell driving school in 1965, learning the craft of single-seater racing. It was a surprise to some that she was ranked seventh out of the 105 aspiring racers, especially as she was the only woman. Her first race was the Benelux Cup at Zandvoort in 1965. Her car was a Formula Three Merlyn Mk V. She was second overall.
Despite her obvious knack for single-seaters, she ended up racing in saloons in 1966. Her first race in the Belgian Touring Car Championship was the Coupe Terlaemen at Zolder. She was fourth overall, in a Ford Lotus Cortina. This was her only race in the series. In a different car, an Alfa Romeo 1300 TI, supported by Alfa Romeo Benelux, she was 19th in the Spa 24 Hours, with Yvette Fontaine.
In 1967, she made a proper attack on the Belgian Touring Car Championship. Driving an Alfa Romeo 1600 GTV, she won the Group One class of the first round, the Grand National at Zolder. In a GTA, in Group Two, she was second in class in the Belgian Cup. Back in the GTV for the Coupes de Spa, she was 16th overall. For the Chimay 500km, she teamed up with Yvette Fontaine in a GTA, run by Lucien Bianchi’s team, and was second , behind the GTA of Serge Trosch and the ailing GTA of Daniel Dezy, whom they overtook late in the race. The last round was at Zolder, and she switched to a Ford Lotus Cortina, in Group Two. This gave her fifth in the qualifying heat, and ninth in the final. She was fourth in the championship.
Using the Cortina, she also took part in the Spa 24 Hours, with Tom Sol (her then-husband). They did not finish, due to a broken con-rod. In the Alfa, she drove in one round of the European Touring Car Cup, at Zolder, and was ninth.
In 1968, Nicole was absent from the Belgian championship results lists, but she was still racing, as an Alfa Romeo Benelux driver. She and Christine Beckers drove a 1750 Berlina in the Spa 24 Hours, and made the finish, in 23rd place. Nicole also drove in hillclimbs, and won at least one, the Marche climb, in an Alfa Romeo TZ prototype. She was fifth in the Bomerée event.
This year, Nicole took part in the TAP Rally of Portugal, with Brussels as her starting point. It is unclear whether or not she finished, or even which car she drove (it was very likely an Alfa). Her co-driver was Nadine Kerkhove.
In 1969, she returned to the Belgian Touring Car Championship. She was in a Lotus Cortina again, supported by Ford of Belgium. At around this time, Ford were using female racing drivers to promote their cars. In the UK Anita Taylor was one such driver. In common with Nicole, who had worked as a model, she was attractive, and this increased her publicity value. Of course, Nicole (and Anita) also had a couple of seasons of competitive racing under her belt, and some wins.
In the first Belgian Cup race, she was sixth in Group One, as team-mate to Jacky Ickx, in an Escort. After missing the Zolder Grand Prix, she was 19th overall in the Coupes de Spa, and 17th at Chimay. The Grand National was run as a multi-heat and final event this year; Nicole won her heat, but was only 35th in the overall classification. She then missed the Benelux Cup, and was 21st in the North Sea Trophy. The second Belgian Cup race gave her a fourth in class.
Away from the circuits, she took part in the Rally of Portugal again, starting at Brussels, but this time, as a navigator. The driver was Gilbert Staepelaere, and the car was a Ford Taunus 20M. They did not finish. 
After this, she stepped down from professional motorsport, although she has remained involved to the present day, in club and historic events and promotional drives for various marques. In 1983, she came out of retirement for the Monte Carlo Rally, driving an Alfa Romeo Alfasud TI. This was as part of the last incarnation of Team Aseptogyl, and she and Marie-Francoise Placq were running as Team Belgium. Nicole did not finish.
Most recently, she drove a Bentley Flying Spur in the Star Rally, an all-star, televised Belgian event, in October 2014.
She also appeared as a character in the long-running motorsport comic Michel Vaillant, particularly in one story arc, involving a group of female touring car drivers. She also makes at least one appearance as a rally co-driver, with Gilbert Staepelaere.
(Image from