Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Jennifer Jo Cobb

Jennifer in 2013

Jennifer is an experienced stock car racer and now, team owner, who has competed extensively in the NASCAR Truck series.

She began racing in local NASCAR-sanctioned stock car events in 1991, in her home state of Kansas. Her interest in motorsports began young; since she was eight, she wanted to be a professional racing driver. When she was 18, she started racing in the Pony Stock division at her local track. Between 1991 and 1996, she won five feature races.

For the next three seasons, she raced in the Charger Division of the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series, at the Lakeside circuit in Kansas, and the I-70 track in Missouri. She picked up three more outright wins, before moving up to Late Models, and winning four more feature races in 2000 and 2001.

In 2002, she made the upward and somewhat sideways move in to ARCA stock car racing, which is separate, although similar, to the NASCAR family. After some training and some promising tests at Daytona, she took part in her first ARCA race, at the Kansas circuit. Her car was a Chevrolet, and she was 16th.

2003 was a much quieter year, with much of it given over to working as a driving instructor, which allowed Jennifer to learn other tracks. She had a go at the Kansas ARCA race again, but could not finish, despite making her way to midfield from the very back.

ARCA was a happier hunting ground in 2004. She managed three top-ten finishes, at Kansas, Nashville and Chicagoland, the best of these being a seventh at Nashville. At the end of the season, she made her debut in the NASCAR Busch Series, at Homestead-Miami, but did not finish.

Although she carried on as a performance driving instructor, the next two seasons did not feature much in the way of racing. She qualified for the Kansas Busch Series race in 2006, but was taken out by another driver. The following year, she did one ARCA race at the circuit, and was 25th, in a Chevrolet.

At about this time, Jennifer launched her own line of motorsport-themed clothing for women, Driver Boutique. Driver Boutique’s proceeds helped her to get back into big-league racing, and acted as her major sponsor.

2008 saw another debut. Jennifer took part in her first NASCAR Craftsman Truck race, finishing 33rd after a blown engine at Kansas. Later in the season, she was 27th, at Kentucky. In between, she made guest appearances in ARCA and the Nationwide Series, once driving for Derrike Cope’s team.

The next season was similar in terms of scheduling, although Jennifer did not finish either of her Craftsman Truck races, one of those being at Talladega. She did not finish the Kansas ARCA round, either.

After several years of one-off drives in the Busch Series and ARCA, she put together a deal for a large proportion of the Camping World Truck series in 2010, driving a Ford for her own team. Her best finishes were two fourteenth places, and she was 17th overall. Driving for other team owners, she made some appearances in ARCA and the Nationwide Series, scoring a 17th place in ARCA, at Daytona.

The following year, she made a double attack on the Truck and Nationwide series, with a better record in the Nationwide championship, where she was 29th, and a contender for Rookie of the Year. Her car was a Rick Ware Racing Ford. However, her best overall finish was sixth, in the first round of the Truck series, at Daytona. This was a highest-ever finish for a female driver at the time, in any major NASCAR series. Her twelve races yielded another three top-twenty finishes, near the end of the season.

In 2012, she concentrated on the Truck series again, and was 27th. Her best finish was 16th, at Kentucky. As well as this, she ran two cars for her own team in Trucks, for herself and either Jake Crum or Tim J. Bell.  

She did 16 races in 2013, in which she had a best finish of 17th, at Kansas. Unfortunately, her finishing record this year was not good, and her season was further compromised by a legal battle with former business partners and her ex-boyfriend, over team property. Her final finishing position was 25th. She was also 26th in a NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Kansas, in one of her regular guest appearances in the championship.

Her schedule in 2014 was similar, with most of the year spent in Trucks. Her finishing record was much improved, and she had a best finish of thirteenth, at Kansas. This, and her two other top-twenty positions, gave her 16th in the championship. Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing remained a two-car team, with the other seats taken by Caleb Roark, Matt Tifft and Willie Allen, at different parts of the season.

Her guest appearance in the Nationwide Series, also at Kansas, yielded a 24th place. 
In 2015, she continues to race in the Camping World Truck Series, and at the time of writing, has three top-twenty finishes so far.

Jennifer uses her media profile to support a number of good causes, including her own organisation, Driven2Honor. This charity champions American servicewomen.

(Image from http://americancarsamericangirls.com)

Friday, 15 May 2015

Dorothy Stanley-Turner

Dorothy at Shelsley Walsh in 1939

Dorothy was one of the later female racing stars at Brooklands, and was particularly associated with the MG marque.

She started racing at quite a young age, and she was guided from the beginning by other female motorsport enthusiasts. Joan Chetwynd taught her to drive, and her earliest competition experiences were alongside Mrs Kimber in an MG, in trials. Her father, a Forces officer, was a friend of Mrs Kimber’s husband, Cecil, who was a director of the MG Group.

She began circuit racing in 1937, and her first major race was the First Easter Mountain Handicap at Brooklands. Her car was an MG special. In the same car, she also raced in the Fourth Easter Mountain Handicap, at the same meeting. She finished both races, but was not among the leaders.

Not that long afterwards, with only some hillclimbs, and one race, in between in which to hone her skills, Dorothy raced at Le Mans for the first time. She shared George Eyston’s MG PB with Enid Riddell, and they were 16th overall, a respectable finish for a debutante, and notwithstanding a problem with the fuel filler cap, which was solved by Dorothy, using an orange as a plug. She used her powers of persuasion, and her charm, to convince the track official that this was not in contravention of any rules.

She was lucky to get to the start at Le Mans at all, as the previous week, she suffered an eye injury during the Nuffield Trophy at Donington Park, driving her own MG. A stone from the track flew up and hit her in the eye. After receiving first aid and an eye patch, she attempted to rejoin the race, but was wisely prevented from doing so.

As well as high-speed action, Dorothy also tried rallying. She drove her MG in the RAC Rally early in the year, with Kathleen Taylor as her navigator. She also travelled to France for the Paris-St. Raphaël Rally.

Her racing season in 1938 was curtailed by a bout of diphtheria, which she fortunately survived without ongoing problems. Her MG PB, which had been accepted for Le Mans, was driven by Charles Dobson and Elsie Wisdom, who did not finish.

Before her unfortunate illness, which occurred on the way to Le Mans itself, Dorothy’s performances at Brooklands were really improving. She scored her first outright win in the Second Easter Road Handicap, driving her new Q-Type MG. Even diphtheria could not keep her out of action for long, and she was back in the driving seat at Brooklands in August, finishing third in the First August Road Handicap. This, along with her attempts at one-eyed driving at Donington, was typical of her determination and spirit, which were often praised in contemporary accounts. Her strong personality, with a tendency towards cheekiness and humour, and a crafty willingness to play dumb in order to get the advice or physical help she needed, really seems to have endeared to the likes of SCH Davis, who writes very fondly of her in Atalanta.

Earlier in the year, she raced in Ireland, taking part in one of the support races for the Cork Grand Prix in her MG. Few of the Brooklands “set”, particularly the ladies, ventured over there, although Fay Taylour (an Irishwoman herself) had some success there.

In 1939, she entered the RAC Rally in an Alvis, and took the Shelsley Walsh Ladies' record in an Alta. Her first appearance at Brooklands was for the JCC Members’ Day, in her MG, in March. At the August meeting, she unwittingly became the last lady driver to win a Brooklands race, when she took the First August Mountain Handicap, again in the Q-Type.

When the war broke out, Dorothy followed the tradition of her family and enlisted in the WAAF. She rose through the officer ranks, initially in a barrage balloon unit, then later as a Flying Officer. She stayed in the Forces after the war ended, only returning to civilian life in 1959. 

After the war, she competed a little in hillclimbs, under the name Dryden, having married Peter Dryden in 1946. Her car was an Alta. In the 1950s, she took up rallying again, driving an Alvis in the 1951 Monte Carlo Rally. Opportunities for motor racing had decreased due to the war, and those of the Brooklands ladies who returned to motorsport, gravitated towards rallies.

She died in 1995, aged 78.

(Image from http://motorsporthistory.ru/)

Sunday, 10 May 2015

The Spanish Women's Rally Championship

"Marisol", a competitor in the 1971 Costa del Sol Rally, driving a Fiat 124

In the early 1970s, the famous Paris-St.Raphaël women’s rally, in France, was in decline. Over the border in Spain, it was a very different story. The Spanish rally scene of the time had not just one women-only event, but a whole series of them, and a championship was awarded every year, from 1971 to 1975.

Women-only rallies had an even longer history in Spain: the Rallye Femenino San Isidro, later known as the SIASA Rally, began in 1967, and the Rallye Femina, based around Barcelona, ran from at least 1962.

The first ladies’ championship appears to have been held in 1969, but it only covered Catalonia. Nuria Viñas was the winner.

A full programme of five “rallyes femeninos” ran in 1970, but these were stand-alone events, with no championship awarded.

1971 Milagros Ortega/Yolanda Maruri (Renault R8 TS)
1972 Nuria Viñas/Maria Angeles Pujol (BMW 2002 Ti)
1973 Nuria Viñas/Ana Maria Garreta (BMW 2002 Ti)
1974 “Yolanda”/M. Robledo (Mini Cooper)
1975 Marisol Rodriguez Mesa/Maria Teresa Rodriguez Mesa (SEAT 124)

Numbers of entries for each rally varied, with 40 drivers finishing the 1971 Rallye Femenino Saibil, but between twelve and twenty was a more usual figure. The championship itself had 49 entrants in 1972, and entries remained quite high until 1975.

The rallies themselves varied somewhat in format, but were generally shorter than the mixed rallies of the time; normally less than 200km. Most included a regularity section, a slalom and one or more special stages.

A women’s championship continued to be awarded in Spain until 1978, but after 1975, the women-only events were discontinued. The trophy was awarded to the highest-placed female driver in the main Spanish championship. Regional womens’ championships continued to exist until 1980, but were much smaller than before.

1976 Maria José Ruedas/Ana Fuster (Opel Kadett)
1977 Nuria Llopis/Marta Llopis (Simca Rallye II)
1978 Paloma Landete/? (Chrysler Avenger)

The championship has been revived in recent years, and is now awarded to the highest-performing female driver in the Spanish championship.

For profiles of some of the drivers involved, please click here

(Image taken from http://www.forocoches.com)

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Monday, 27 April 2015

Female Rally Drivers after 1950: India

Ashika Menezes, second right, at an autocross meeting

The Indian subcontinent has its own national rally championship, which has attracted several female drivers in recent years. This is in no way an exhaustive list of them, and it will be updated in future, although good information about Indian rallies is quite hard to find.

Rayna Aranha – did two seasons of rallying in India, in 2005 and 2006. Her usual navigator was Radikha Chaliha. Her first event was the Hyderabad Rally in December 2005, in which she was seventh, and first lady. She contested the Rally Star Cup in 2006. The model of car she used is unclear, although it may have been a Maruti. She also participated in autocross, with some success in the womens’ classes, and, in 2005, drag racing. One of the reasons she took on the challenge of rallying was that she wanted to overcome her tendency towards motion sickness.  Previously, she was a model, and she now works in IT.

Anitha Kholay – driver from Bangalore, active in Indian motorsport since 1995. She started rallying as a co-driver, navigating for her husband, Rupesh, before taking the wheel herself in 2003, in three rounds of the Indian Rally Championship.  She was fourth in the Rally Star class of the Bangalore Rally. After that, she has competed, on and off, in rallying, with a break in 2006 for motherhood, as well as motorcycle enduros and autocross, in a Maruti. In 2010, she was second in a special VW Polo ladies’ race at Chennai. Anitha is probably better known as a model and fashion stylist.

Ashika Menezes – rallied a Maruti Esteem in the Indian championship in 2013, with a best finish of fourteenth, in the Coffee Day Rally. In 2014, she co-drove for her erstwhile navigator, Lokesh Gowda. She has been active in motorsport since at least 2012, usually in autocross, where she often wins the Ladies’ class. In 2014, she also did some circuit racing, in the one-make Toyota Etios Cup. The results are not forthcoming.

(Image from http://www.thehindu.com/sport/motorsport/team-r3a-continues-to-dominate/article3643158.ece)

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 http://www.rajd.rzeszow.pl/wczesniejsze-edycje-rr/)

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)