Friday, 24 April 2015

Female Rally Drivers after 1950: Poland

Magdalena Cieślik and Magda Lukas celebrate

There are now enough Polish drivers on Speedqueens to warrant their own post. This will be added to in future.

Izabela Bzyl - Polish driver active since 2010. She is part of the “Bzylki Sisters” team, with her sister Katarzyna Bzyl as team manager and occasional driver. In 2010 and 2011, her car was a Peugeot 206. Her best result was a 34th place in the Rajd Karkonoski. In 2012, she acquired a Renault Clio, and improved her best finish to 30th, in the Rajd Świdnicki-Krause. Her usual navigator is Jakub Domański. After 2012, the team has struggled for funds, and has only occasionally competed at lower levels.

Magdalena Cieślik - Polish driver most active between 1999 and 2002, although there are records of her beginning her career in 1997 in a Renault 21, and entering some Polish Championship events in 1998. Her major rally entries were mainly in Poland. In 1999 and 2000, she used an N1 Fiat Seicento, in which she had a best finish of 28th, in the Rajd Zimowy. After a brief experiment with a Nissan Micra, she acquired a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IV, later updated to an Evo VI. This marque gave her her best finishes of her career: seventh in the Rajd Zimowy in 2001 and 2002, and ninth in the Rajd Krakowski in 2002. She was also seventh in the 2002 Rajd Rzeszowski-Fuchs, driving an Evo VII. Her last major event seems to have been the 2004 Rajd Barborka in Poland, driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI.

Klaudia Temple - Polish driver active in major rallies in Poland since 2011. For her first season, she drove a Citroen Saxo. Her best result was 34th in the Rajd Cieszyńska Babórka. In 2012, she broke into the top twenty on the Rajd Karkonoski, in 19th place, having swapped the Citroen for a Honda Civic. She was later 20th in the Rajd Cieszyńska Babórka. In the same car, she competed around Poland in 2013. Her bet result improved again to 17th, in the Rajd Wisly. She continued to rally in Poland in 2014, still in the Civic. She did not quite manage to get into the top twenty this year, with a best result of 21st, in the Nadwiślański Rally. She was fourth in class. Her usual navigator is Jakub or Kamil Wrobel.

Barbara Wojtowicz – rallied in Poland, on and off, between 1947 and 1963, in a variety of small cars, including a Simca Aronde and NSU Prinz. Among her earliest was a Fiat 1100, which she used in the 1947 Polish Rally. She competed in the Polish Rally on several occasions, throughout her career, and her best result in it was eleventh, in 1963, when she was 45 years old. The car on this occasion was a Renault Dauphine. Barbara was more known for her active role in the Polish resistance during the Second World War. She died in 2009.

Ewa Wójtowicz – best known for rallying a Citroen C2 in Polish rallies. She has driven this car since at least 2009, when she entered the Rajd Barbórka. In 2011, she was very active, and had a best finish of 32nd, in the Świdnicki-Krause Rally. She has continued to compete since then, usually with the Palonka rally team, including in some events in Slovakia, in 2014. One year, possibly in 2011, she was runner-up in class in a Polish rally championship.

(Image from

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Emma McKinstry

Kenny and Emma McKinstry

Emma McKinstry is a second-generation Northern Irish driver, a daughter of Kenny McKinstry. She is the only female McKinstry to compete seriously in motorsport, although her sister, Susan, has navigated for their father.

Her usual car is a Subaru Impreza, and her favoured surface seems to be Tarmac. She has driven in a variety of Irish and UK events, including the WRC Rally Ireland.

Her earliest rallying experience was co-driving for her father in the 2002 Lurgan Park Rally. The car was a Subaru Impreza WRC, and they were second overall.

Before the Impreza, the first car she drove herself in competition was a Peugeot 106. She used this car in both stage rallies and club hillclimbs. Her first major event, the International Ulster Rally, ended in retirement, but she was not put off, and returned the following year, to finish 24th, and third in class. She also finished the Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally, in 58th place.

For 2005, she had a new car, a Group N Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI. She handled the hike in power well, and captured her first top-twenty finish, an eighteenth place in the Kirkistown Eurocables Stages. Later in the season, she was 20th in the Galloway Hills event, and in between, she drove in her first Rally of Ireland. She acquitted herself well against an international field of drivers, and was 24th overall, out of 43 entries.

2006 was Emma’s busiest rallying year yet. Encouraged by her Rally of Ireland finish, and with some god sponsors behind her, she entered the British National Championship, and crossed over to mainland Britain for the first time. In Scotland in March, she was fourteenth in the Brick and Steel Border Counties Rally, and fifteenth in the Ulster International Rally. Her usual car this year was the Mitsubishi, but the Ulster rally was her first outing in a Subaru Impreza, meaning that she joined a very elite group of female drivers who have rallied WRC cars in anger. Back in the Lancer, she was eleventh in the Park Systems National Stages, and tenth in the Moonraker Forestry Rally, another visit to the Republic of Ireland, a first top ten, and proof that she could cut in on gravel as well as tarmac. She had started the year with her second Rally of Ireland, and was 21st overall, in the Lancer.

She adopted the Impreza, run by McKinstry Motorsport, full-time in 2007. Her competition programme took in rallies in both parts of Ireland. She achieved three top-ten finishes, all on gravel this year: ninth in the Limerick Forestry Rally, sixth in the Cork Forestry Rally, and sixth in the Killarney Forestry Rally. She was just outside the top ten in the Lurgan Park Rally, in eleventh. Her third Rally of Ireland, running this year as a World Championship round, gave her a 35th place.

Gravel was her preferred surface in 2008, and the top ten finishes continued. She was sixth in the Limerick Forestry Rally. Sadly, mechanical problems put her out of the Ulster Rally. The Impreza, in the hands of works Subaru WRC drivers, has always been more of a gravel car.

2009 was mainly spent on tarmac again. Her best result was sixth again, achieved at both Kirkistown and Bishopscourt. This year, she was Northern Ireland’s top female driver.

It was a much quieter year for Emma in 2010, with not much in the way of modern stage rallying. She did get out in historic competition, however, driving a Sunbeam Avenger. This was her first experience of driving a historic rally car, although she had navigated for her father in a MkII Escort previously. She entered the Circuit of Ireland, an event she had previously taken part in in modern machinery.

In 2011, she won the McKinstry Motorsport Rally Time Trial, driving an Impreza. This was her first outright win. Her season in the Northern Irish championship had several other highlights, including a fourth place in the Kirkistown Stages, seventh in the New Year and Lurgan Park rallies, and eighth in the Bishopscourt Stages.

In 2012, she was ninth in the McKinstry Time Trial, in an Impreza. This was another rather quiet season, with a ninth spot in the Hankook Down Rally as a highlight.

She was quite successful in 2013, with a fourth, fifth and ninth overall in Irish rallies. The ninth place came in the Ulster Rally, her highest finish in this particular event. For the Turkey Run Tarmac Stages, she stepped away from the Impreza, and drove a Proton Compact instead, but did not finish.

Her best 2014 finish was fourth, in the Winter Stages Rally. She was also sixth in the McGrady Insurance Bishopscourt Stages, and seventh in the Lurgan Park Rally, all in the Impreza. This was enough for tenth place in the Northern Irish championship, and another Northern Ireland Ladies’ award.

Emma continues to rally in 2015, although she is not officially contesting any championships. Her best result, at the time of writing, has been fourth, in the New Year Stages Rally, a regular part of her rallying calendar.

(Image copyright William Neill)

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Wendy Markey (Amey)

Wendy with the Mazda RX-3

Wendy is a British woman who raced in national saloon championships in the 1970s. She took part in some international touring car races too, and drove in works teams for Mazda and Lada.

Her background was completely unrelated to motorsport; she trained as a dancer, and performed in a musical theatre and comedy, appearing on The Benny Hill Show, among other things. It was only after her marriage, to racing driver and BMW team manager, John Markey, that she became acquainted with the world of motorsport.

Her first race came in 1972, and was apparently the result of a bet. Whether she won the bet, is unclear. Using a borrowed Honda N600, she drove in the Production Saloon championship, at Oulton Park.

The following year, she attacked the Production Saloon (Group 1) championship again, in a BMW 2002 Ti this time, supported by the UK BMW works team. As well as circuit racing, the team ran her in the Avon Tour of Britain, partnered by Jenny Dell. She was 19th overall and beat Rosemary Smith to the Ladies’ award, as well as finishing above Graham Hill in his Datsun Bluebird.

A change to the rules brought Wendy into the British Touring Car Championship, then known as the British Saloon Car Championship, in 1974. The BSCC was now running to Group 1 specification. Wendy had secured another factory-supported drive, this time for Mazda. Her car was a Savanna RX3. She completed most of the season, which included too many non-finishes for her to make an impression on the final leaderboard. Her best finish was seventh, at Mallory Park. Female drivers were less unusual then in the BSCC than they are now, but Wendy attracted a lot of attention due to her team’s main sponsor: Penthouse magazine.

As well as the BSCC, she competed internationally, in some rounds of the European Touring Car Championship. She shared the RX-3 with Australian Brian Muir for the Silverstone TT race, but they did not finish, due to an oil leak in the gearbox. She also made one appearance in a Ladies’ Shellsport Escort race, driving a Ford Escort Mexico. She was seventh.

She drove a Mazda RX-3 for both 1975 British Group 1 Championships, sponsored by Britax and Radio One. She performed well in both, and was third in her class in the Britax series, and fourth in class in the Radio One series. Classes for Group 1 racing were based on the retail price of the car.

There was more women-only action in 1975, too. Wendy took part in the Shellsport Escort Series, now a four-round championship run in association with the British Women Racing Drivers’ Club. She won the last round, at Mallory Park, and was third overall. This was not her only womens’ event; she was invited to drive in the Ladies’ Race supporting the Monaco Grand Prix, but crashed out.

She stayed with Group 1 in 1976, although she changed her car from a Mazda to a Lada 1200, supported by the Lada factory. Her programme included a second Tour of Britain, in which she won another Ladies’ award. As well as the Lada, she was scheduled to race a Mazda in the Silverstone 6 Hours, with Georgie Shaw, but this did not happen.

Her third season in the Shellsport Escort series gave her a best finish of third, at Snetterton, and she was enough for sixth in the championship.

In 1977, it was back to Mazda power, still in the RX-3. One of her team-mates was her husband, John, who drove a sister car, an RX-5. Sponsored by Smith Kendon Travel Sweets, a slightly less controversial company, she competed in several rounds of the European Touring Car Championship, with Tom Hunt as her co-driver. They were disqualified from their first race, at Salzburg, for receiving a push start, but got to the finish of the Brno round in 19th place. They were 35th, from 38 finishers, at the Nürburgring, but did not finish at Silverstone. A planned entry into the Brands Hatch 6 Hours did not transpire.

Wendy’s chosen car for 1978 was a Mini 1275 GT. Sharing it with John Markey and Alan Shaw, she managed to finish the Diner’s Club Trophy at Silverstone. For most of the season, she raced in the Special Saloon championship in the UK, with her husband and second team-mate. Unfortunately, she had quite a bad accident at Mallory Park, on a wet track, and broke an ankle. The Mini was a write-off, and this was the end of her motorsport activities for some time. Divorce also intervened some time afterwards.

In 1988, now Wendy Amey, she returned to the circuits in a Chevron B8, usually racing in the HSCC2-Litre Championship, and Super Sports. This lasted for two seasons, before she hung up her helmet for good, to concentrate on family and business concerns.

More recently, Wendy has been involved in the classic motorcycling scene, as the business and life partner of former world champion, Phil Read.

(Image from

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Copa de Damas and Formula Hyundai Femenina

Marisa Panagopulo

Both the Copa de Damas (Ladies’ Cup) and Formula Hyundai Femenina ran in Argentina, in the 1990s. The Copa appeared first, in 1994, followed by Formula Hyundai Femenina (not to be confused with single-seater series run elsewhere, with similar names.)

Both were one-make saloon championships, with the Copa de Damas running Nissan Sentras, and Formula Hyundai Femenina using the Hyundai Accent. During the 1990s, there were several womens’ racing championships in Argentina, and South America generally, and for a few seasons, Formula Hyundai Femenina ran concurrently with the Copa de Damas.

There was some crossover between the two championships, with several drivers moving between them, including Marisa Panagopulo, who won both, Karina Furlan and Claudia Teatini. A number of drivers from outside Argentina raced in the two series over their lifetimes. These included Shantal Kazazian, from Chile.

The Copa de Damas was quite closely associated with the Turismo Carretera touring car championship in Argentina, and some of the drivers from both ladies’ championships later joined the TC grid. They included Marisa Panagopulo and Ianina Zanazzi, who also raced single-seaters, with some success.

Interest in women-only competitions was dwindling towards the end of the 1990s. The Nissan-based series was replaced by a similar one for the Vauxhall/Opel Corsa, but this too disappeared after 1999.

Winners – Copa de Damas
1994 Marisa Panagopulo
1995 Maria Angelica Alberdi
1996 Silvina Genjo
1997 Mariela Manfredotti

Winners – Formula Hyundai Femenina
1995 Marisa Panagopulo
1996 Claudia Teatini
1997 Karina Furlan
1998 Gabriela Crespi

For profiles of some of the drivers who raced in these series, try here.
The Campeonato Brasileiro Ford Fiesta Femenino, a similar Brazilian championship, is discussed here.

(Image from

Friday, 10 April 2015

Emma Gilmour

Emma Gilmour with the Suzuki Swift

Emma is a driver and co-driver from New Zealand. For quite some time, she has been the top female rally driver in her country, and has competed around the world. In 2014, she branched out into rallycross.

Her earliest forays into rallying were in the co-driver’s seat. In 1999 and 2000, she navigated for her cousin, Gwynn Gilmour, in the Rally of New Zealand. Her sister, Monica, was a rally driver too, and Emma read the maps for her on occasion. From the very start, Emma’s rally career was international in nature; in 2002, she partnered Alistair Cavenagh in the Canberra Rally, in Australia.

2002 was the year that she got behind the wheel herself. Her first rally car was a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3, bought from Gwynn. Her first rally was the Targa Bambina tarmac rally, and she started her career off well, with sixth overall, and first in the four wheel drive class. Her first gravel stage rally was the Rally of Rotorua, and she was on the pace against established APRC drivers, finishing 16th overall. Almost unbelievably, her first season as a driver included a run in the Rally of New Zealand, which she did not finish, and an overseas trip. She did not manage to finish the Japanese Alpine Rally either, although she set some decent stage times before retiring. 

Emma’s first year as a fully-fledged rally driver saw her push herself so far, it would have been difficult to keep up such momentum. Her return to the Rotorua Rally ended when her Lancer lost a wheel, and another accident dropped her out of the Rally of New Zealand.

In 2004, she contested the New Zealand Rally Championship, driving a Lancer Evo VI this time. Despite a couple of disappointing retirements, it was another year of progress. She scored her first top-ten finish in the Rally of Otago, coming ninth, and then surpassed it in the Rally of Nelson, finishing sixth. For a change, she entered the Targa New Zealand in a works Suzuki Ignis, and won the small car class. She was 30th overall, and set one twelfth fastest stage time, against cars with much bigger engines.

Her competition schedule in 2005 was squarely based in New Zealand, revolving around the NZ championship in a Lancer Evo VI. During this season, she travelled to Europe, to become a student of the legendary John Haugland, at his Rally School in Norway. She did not actually compete. At home, she managed her first Rally of New Zealand finish, in 26th place. She was the second New Zealand finisher. In June, she did not finish in Rotorua, normally her best event, but she did score her first podium place; a third in the Rally of Otago. She was second in the NZ championship, after a sixth place in a heat for the Wairapa Rally. Away from the championship, she was fifth overall in the Targa New Zealand, despite a heavy penalty for an illegal tyre change, and ninth overall, with a class win, in the Race to the Sky hillclimb.

For 2006, she looked toward Europe. Using money from a private sponsor, she secured a wildcard entry into the Ford Fiesta Shootout, in the UK. She was the winner of the International Scholarship award, and received entries into the Rallies of Germany and Finland, as part of the Fiesta Sporting Trophy. She was 50th in the Rally Deutschland, seventh in class, and although she was only 65th in Finland, with a class sixth, she secured some class stage wins. Later in the year, she picked up more funding for her Fiesta campaign, and entered the Wales Rally GB, but did not finish. She was thirteenth in the Fiesta Sporting Trophy.

Back at home, she switched from Mitsubishi to Subaru power, and performed well in the Rally of New Zealand, posting top-three Production WRC stage times, and finishing 24th. Rotorua was once more a lucky event for her, and she was ninth. A third overall in the Targa New Zealand was another podium finish for her collection, and she was second in her class at the Race to the Sky. At the end of the year, she was awarded the Rally Founders’ Trophy by the New Zealand motorsport association, for achievements and sportsmanship.

 She had a stellar start to 2007, coming second in the Otago Rally in the Impreza, her best result so far. At the Whangerei Rally, the second round of the NZ championship, she was on course to repeat this, having won some stages, but a major crash ended her involvement, and destroyed her car. She did not compete for several months, until winning another scholarship drive for September’s Rally New Zealand, in an Impreza WRX. Her final position was 33rd, 13th in the PWRC. This drive led to an offer from Subaru Japan to compete in the Rally of Japan, a WRC round, in a similar Impreza. She did not finish, retiring at the beginning of the last day.

2008 was a comparatively quiet year. Emma had her own Subaru back on the road, and entered the NZ championship. Her best result was a third place, in the Nelson Rally. Another run in the Rally of New Zealand gave her a 16th place. Away from the main championship, she was fourth in the Targa.

After this rather subdued season, she spread her wings again in 2009, entering the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, in the Impreza. Her first event was the Red Devil Rally in Queensland, Australia, and she was fourth overall. She was fifth in the Whangerei Rally, third APRC finisher, and fourth in Japan. The Malaysian round gave her her best finish, second, in the jungle, and she was third and sixth in Indonesia and China. Her consistency was rewarded by second in the APRC championship. Despite her international schedule, she still had time for the NZ championship, and her string of top-five finishes, including another second, was enough for third overall.

Although 2010 was more domestic in nature for Emma, it was successful. She did everything apart from win in the NZ championship, scoring two seconds and two thirds, and was the fourth NZRC finisher in the Rally of New Zealand (17th overall). On the WRC front, she was second in the PWRC in New Zealand, and twelfth overall. This, and her runner-up spot in the NZRC, helped her to become the highest-placed female driver in the Castrol rankings for the year.

The following season, she stayed close to home again, and had another good year in the NZ Championship. Her best finishes were two third places, at Hawkes Bay and in the Rally of New Zealand, which was unfortunately no longer a WRC rally. She retained her runner-up spot in the championship.

In 2012, she was runner-up in the NZ championship yet again, after a second in the Rally of Wairarapa, a third in the Otago Rally and sixth at Whangarei. She was fourteenth in the Rally of New Zealand itself. Only the Gisborne Rally was a disappointment, ending in suspension failure.

2013 was spent developing the Suzuki Swift Maxi in New Zealand. In the one rally where the car made it to the end, Emma was eleventh: the Rally Wairarapa. The Swift had suffered repeated engine problems all season, which were only fixed right at the end.

The situation was similar in 2014, although it was the Whangarei Rally, the first of the season, rather than the last, that she finished this time. She was in 21st place.

She also took part in rallycross, racing in the Red Bull Global Series, in a Hyundai Veloster Turbo, alongside Rhys Millen. The team was also run by Rhys Millen, another New Zealander. Emma was driving in the Supercar class, and competed in the USA and Barbados. Her best finish was seventh, achieved at Austin, Texas. She was thirteenth in the championship.

For 2015, Emma is rallying again, driving the Suzuki Swift in the NZ championship, after warming up for the season with a rallysprint in March.

(Image from              

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Early Female Racers in New Zealand

Sybil Lupp

There was no major, organised motor racing in New Zealand until after the Second World War. After that, in the late 1940s, road races began to be held, first on public roads, then on purpose-built circuits. Women drivers were involved in these, right from the start. They were also part of the speed eventing scene, which grew up shortly before this.

This post describes some of New Zealand’s female racers in the 1940s and 1950s.

Nola Blackburn – raced a JAP-engined Cooper single-seater in road races in the 1950s. She took part in the New Zealand Championship Road Race in 1952 and 1953, and finished once, in tenth place, at Mairehau, in 1952. The following year, when the race was held at Dunedin, she crashed out. Nola may also have raced a Buick alongside her father, Vic Blackburn, shortly before. The Cooper remained in the family until about 1958, when it was sold.

Sybil Lupp – New Zealand’s first female racing driver. Her interest in cars began on the engineering side, and she was one of New Zealand’s first female mechanics in the 1940s. She started racing after her second marriage, in 1947. Initially, she drove in hillclimbs, scoring several wins in MG cars. In 1949, she entered the first road race in New Zealand, the Road Racing Championship, and was fifth, in an MG TC. In 1950, she was second in the same race, in the TC, and first on handicap. In 1952, she raced an MG TD, and was seventh in both the Lady Wigram Trophy and the CWF Hamilton Trophy. In 1953, she changed from an MG to a Jaguar XK-120. In this car, she was seventh in the CWF Hamilton Trophy, with HR Brown, and seventh in the Dunedin race, driving solo. As well as racing, she was one of the founder members of the Otago Motor Association, and ran a series of garages and car dealerships. She died in 1994.

June Monk – started off racing a Ford 10 special, then acquired a Triumph TR2, painted pink, which she raced in some major events in the mid-1950s. She did not finish the CWF Hamilton Trophy in 1955 or 1956, but was twelfth in the South Island Championship Road Race in 1957. Her position on handicap was fourth. After this, she competed in club events only, in a Jaguar XK140.

(Image from

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Female Rally Drivers after 1950: Japan

Rina Ito

Language difficulties make it hard to research rallying in Japan, but there are at least a few female drivers active on the domestic scene. This post will hopefully be expanded in future.

Rina Ito – active in Japanese and Asia-Pacific rallying since 2010, usually driving a Mazda 2 Demio. She took part in the Rally of Hokkaido in 2011, and is listed as an entrant for the 2012 Asia Pacific Rally Championship, although the results are proving elusive. She had a decent season in Japanese rallying in 2013, with a best finish of 24th, in the Osaka University Tango Peninsula Tango Rally. In 2013, she equalled this result, in the Hokkaido Rally, still in the Mazda. That year, she competed overseas in the New Zealand Rally, in a Honda Civic, but had an off on the final stage. She is continuing to rally in 2015. Rina had an unusual introduction to motorsport, starting out as a Super GT grid girl.

Kozue Oi - Japanese international driver. She began her WRC career in Kenya in 2000, in a Subaru Forester. Since then, she has driven in WRC events in Japan and New Zealand, as well as the Japanese and Asia Pacific championships. She also drives in Malaysian rallies. Her cars have included a Subaru Impreza, Mitsubishi Lancer and Ford Fiesta. In 2009, she drove a Mitsubishi Colt in the Japan Rally Series, which she won, driving for the MusicMasters team, after a string of good finishes. She drove in the Wales Rally GB for the first time in 2009. As well as rallying, she has won multiple titles in off-road trials in Japan.

Fumi Shimada – rallied a Mazda 2 Demio in Japan, in 2013 and 2014. She did reasonably well in her first season, scoring two top-twenty finishes, the best of these being an 18th in the Osaka University Tango Peninsula Charity Rally. She was also 20th in the MCSC Rally Highland Masters, fifth in class. In 2014, she did not do quite as well, and had a best finish of 29th, in the Shinshiro Rally. Her navigator is Yusuke Ishiguro.

(Image from