Saturday, 14 October 2017

The Ladies' Automobile Club



Millicent, the Duchess of Sutherland, with her daughter

The Ladies’ Automobile Club was Great Britain’s first dedicated motor club for women. It was not exclusively a motorsport association, but it was one of the first bodies to organise motor races for women in the UK.

Talk of a women’s motor club began in 1899. Newspapers described the actress Lily Langtry as one of its first members, and Viscountess Haberton as the founder. Little else was heard for three or four years.

In 1903, it starts to be mentioned in the papers again, with Lady Cecil Scott Montagu was its first acknowledged leader. Between 1903 and 1904, the original club seems to have collapsed. Contemporary reports claim this was due to disagreements about membership criteria. Only ladies in “society” were intended to join. Most of the early members were from the titled classes.

Millicent, the Duchess of Sutherland, became its first president in 1904. She oversaw the first Club event in June, a meeting and group drive from Carlton Terrace in central London to the Ranelagh Club in Barnes, via Pall Mall and the park. Fifty-six cars were involved. Many of the ladies drove themselves, although some relied on their chauffeurs. This fact was did not go un-noticed by observers. Among the observers on the day was Queen Alexandra, who watched the parade from the window at Buckingham Palace.

The club’s first AGM was the following month. Rooms were acquired at Claridges Hotel for the use of members, as well as a garage.

Most of the LAC’s activities were social in nature. Typically, one member would hold a meeting at her house. This was followed by a drive out, often to the Ranelagh or Hurlingham clubs, for tea. In 1904, an engineer was booked to give a series of talks on the workings of the internal combustion engine. From time to time, other talks were given, sometimes by members themselves, on aspects of motoring, or their own four-wheeled adventures. Maud Manville spoke at length about her experiences in the Herkomer Trophy in 1906.

In the beginning, there was ambitious talk of a ladies’ team being assembled for the Gordon Bennett Cup. This died down after the false start of 1903. In 1905, some women-only competitions started to be organised by the club. The first of these seems to have been a Ladies’ Handicap at the inaugural Brighton Speed Trials. The Handicap was for touring cars, and was entered by six women.

Heat 1
  1. Mrs Herbert Lloyd (30hp Daimler)
  2. Christabel Browne (Cupelle 10hp)
Heat 2
  1. Maud Manville (Daimler 35hp)
  2. Mrs Nevill Copland (12-14hp Talbot)
Walkover:
Mrs Guy Hardy (10hp Panhard)
Mrs Benett-Stanford (13-17hp Dixi)
Final
  1. Mrs Herbert Lloyd
  2. Maud Manville
Only a few days later, the LAC ladies were enjoying their first dedicated gymkhana at the Ranelagh Club. The Ranelagh was the venue for Britain’s first women’s motor race, and had hosted a variety of women’s sports in the past ten years, including a bicycle gymkhana and carriage-driving competitions. Eleven members entered the gymkhana, which consisted of three races and two “appearance competitions”. The results of the races were as follows:

Bending Race (8 starters)

  1. Christabel Browne (10-12hp Cupelle)
  2. Mrs Herbert Lloyd (30hp Daimler)

Crawling Race (7 starters)

  1. Mrs Todd Newcombe (16-20hp Richard-Daimler)
  2. Mrs Herbert Lloyd (30hp Daimler)

Bomb Race (7 starters)

  1. Maud Manville (16hp Daimler)
  2. Mrs Todd Newcombe (16-20hp Richard-Daimler)

Another LAC gymkhana was held at the Ranelagh Club in 1906. Details for this event are less forthcoming. One of the races was a “Police Trap Race” where drivers had to do a lap of the grass track in a certain time, without the use of a speedometer or a stopwatch. The closest to the time was the winner. A Mrs Harry Adams won. Her car is not recorded.

The Police Trap Race was one of five driving competitions that day. The others were a Bending Race, Crawling Race, Ball Race and Tilting at Rings. A Mrs C Farrar won the Crawling Race and Tilting at Rings. Again, her car is not recorded.

A further gymkhana may have been held in 1907, or at least some ladies’ races. By then, ongoing problems with waterlogging on the polo pitch that was used as a racetrack meant that events were sometimes cancelled.

The LAC eventually became affiliated to the RAC. Its peak years as an actual motor club were between 1904 and 1910. After that, it becomes more of a social club; ladies did not even have to own a car to be members. It moved to its own premises in 1923.

Winifred Pink, herself an accomplished racing driver on sand, was one of its later presidents, in 1927. As women were admitted into more motor clubs, it gradually became redundant and was eventually absorbed into the RAC.

(Image from Tatler magazine?)


Monday, 9 October 2017

Gloria Castresana Waid


Gloria Castresana Waid is a Spanish driver who was active in the 1960s, in both rallying and circuit racing.

She began competing after her marriage to Jim Waid, in 1963. She had only had her own car for three years, but had been interested in motoring for a while. Her first car was a Simca Sport.

The couple had met in the Canary Islands in 1961, where both were working for an oil company. Gloria was not a Canary Islander; she had come from Vitoria to work. Jim was American.

Gloria’s early competitive outings were in the Canaries. The islands hosted a lot of local motorsport due to favourable tax rules.

By 1965, she was taking part in major rallies. That year, she won her class in the first running of the La Palma Rally. She was also seventh overall in the Rallye Isla de Tenerife, co-driven by José Lopez Moreno. Her car was a Mini Cooper S.

Later, in 1967, she acted as a navigator to “Miss Spain”, Paquita Torres, in the Rallye Femenino San Isidro. She helped her driver to a win in the Slalom section. The same year, the Jarama circuit in mainland Spain opened. Gloria was a regular there from the beginning, having participated in the racing festival held to inaugurate the track.

In 1968, she raced in the 3 Hours of Jarama, a European Touring Car race. Her car was a Fraser Hillman Imp usually raced by her husband, and its halfshaft broke. She normally drove her Mini on the circuits.

Race results for Gloria are hard to find. Records of Spanish motorsport before about 1969 are very sketchy.

Her career finished in 1970, when she moved to the United States. Initially, she worked for a Porsche-Audi dealership in New York. She later continued her education in languages, earning a PhD. Now, she is still a respected scholar in the field of Basque Studies.

In the past two or three years, she has returned to Spain to live and published a book about her life.

(Image from http://www.imps4ever.info)

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Emma Falcon



Emma Falcón is a Spanish driver from the Canary Islands. She has been rallying since 2011.  

Her first rallies were in the Canaries, driving a VW Polo with Eloy Rivero. Her best result was eleventh, in the Rally of Lanzarote. She had managed a second top-twenty finish in the Tenerife Rally, two months earlier.

She spent another year rallying on her home islands, picking up a tenth in the Rallye Villa de Teror and a thirteenth in the Ciudad de Telde Rally. The Maspalomas Rally was her last event before moving to mainland competition in 2013, and she was 28th overall..

Her new car for 2013 was a Ford Fiesta, and she was now navigated by Rogelio Peñate. This was a busy season for Emma, with thirteen rallies at home and in Spain. Apart from two accidents, she adapted well to the Spanish gravel, and managed an eighth place in the Rally de Tierra del Bierzo, which meant she also won the Fiesta Trophy class. Another highlight was an eleventh in the Tierras Alta da Lorca Rally, which was won by Xavi Pons in a Mitsubishi Lancer.

She also entered her first WRC event, the RACC Catalunya Rally, but did not finish, after a fuel tank broke on the last stage. She was third overall in the Spanish Fiesta Trophy, eighth in the Canary Islands championship, fourteenth in the Spanish gravel championship, and Spanish Ladies’ champion.

In 2014, she had a shorter rally season, and managed two thirteenth places, in the Senderos de la Palma and Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés rallies. Her car was a Fiesta again. Both of her finishes were in the Canaries championship; her one visit to the Spanish mainland ended in an accident on the Rally Sierra Morena.

2015 saw her take on more rallies, and also some outings as a course car driver, in a VW Amarok. Her best finish was 17th, in the Cóbreces Rally. She normally used the Fiesta, apart from one rally in a VW Polo, the Isla de Tenerife Rally, which she did not finish.

2016 was a very strong year for her, with three top-ten finishes, the best of these being a fifth place in the Rally Senderos de la Palma. The others were a sixth place in the Maspalomas Rally and ninth in the Ciudad de Telde Rally. She was back to a full programme of rallies and took part in thirteen events, plus a couple of course car outings with her boyfriend, Surhayen Pernia.

In terms of awards, she also picked up an ERC Ladies' trophy in the Corte Ingles Rally in the Canaries, and was fourth in the Canary Islands championship. Her car was a Citroen DS3.

2017 was an important year for Emma. She rallied outside Spain for the first time in her career, driving a Citroen DS3 for the RMC Motorsport team. Her season began with a 16th place in the Rallye Sierra Morena in Spain, before her first ERC rally of the year, her home event in the Canary Islands. She was 39th overall, and picked up another ERC Ladies’ award, as well as a C2 class win and seventh in ERC3.

The Villa de Adeje and Ourense rallies gave her a 20th and eleventh place respectively. Her first trip to northern Europe was for the Rzeszowski Rally in Poland. This, unfortunately, ended in a heavy crash. Her Citroen had a puncture and was being pursued closely by another car. She rolled on a small bend, colliding with some trees. Spectators immediately came to her and Rogelio Penate’s aid. Emma was not seriously harmed, but Rogelio hurt his back.

Less than a month later, Emma and the RMC DS3 were back in action in the Czech Republic. She won yet another ERC Coupe des Dames in the Barum Czech Rally Zlín, and was 49th overall. This was in spite of brake problems.

The Roma Capitale Rally was her final event of the year. Emma was ahead of the Italian, Tamara Molinaro, in the ERC Ladies’ standings, but only just. The Citroen held out until the final stage, but then suffered an engine failure, leaving Tamara Molinaro to take the win. Catie Munnings also finished, which left Emma in third.

Emma considers herself an ambassador for sport in the Canary Islands. In 2018, she plans to return to the ERC and improve her performances on gravel.

(Image copyright Copi Sport)

Friday, 29 September 2017

Dora Bavio


Dora Bavio raced touring cars in Argentina in the 1960s and 1970s. She began racing in a Renault Gordini, and favoured French cars throughout her short career. The Gordini, her first racing car, was a gift from her father, although intended for road rather than competition use.

She was born in 1942. Unusually for her time, she actually began her motorsport career in karting. Her first car race was in 1966, at Vuelta de Lobos. She was sixth in class in the Gordini. Her next race was two weeks later, at the Autodromo Buenos Aires, and she was third.

Things went rather quiet for “Dorita”, as she became known, after her promising first year. She disappeared from the circuits for a while.

In 1970, she entered the Argentine national touring car championship, driving a Peugeot 404 in the Improved Touring class. She drove in seven events, and had a best finish of eighth, in her first race at Salto. At least some of these races were two-driver enduros; Susana Renzulli was among her co-drivers. Her last event of the year was the Argentine Touring Car Grand Prix, which she did not finish, stopping after the third stage.

In 1972, she raced a Peugeot 504 in the championship, but only did one race, which she did not finish. In between races, she worked as a racing instructor.

Much later, in 1985, Dora reappeared on the rally stage. She took part in the Rally of Argentina, driving a Peugeot 504, and was 39th overall. The car was considerably older than most of the field, but not the only 504 in the rally.

She may also have driven in the 1995 Rally Argentina, in a Suzuki, but the result is proving hard to track down.

After her retirement, Dora ran an auto accessories firm for many years.

(Image from http://recuerdodeautos.blogspot.co.uk)




Monday, 25 September 2017

Patricia McOstrich

Embed from Getty Images


Patricia, left

Patricia McOstrich was a regular at Brooklands between 1930 and 1939. She was an all-rounder who drove in trials, rallies and races.


She was born Gladys Patricia McOstrich in 1898. Her family was based in Surrey, quite close to Brooklands. It was probably during WW1 that she learned to drive; she described herself as a servicewoman who drove ambulances. After the Armistice, she worked as a chauffeur for a Liberal politician and advertised her services in the papers. This was sometimes done under the banner of female emancipation. Throughout her life, she attempted to encourage other women into the automotive world.


Her first major competitive outing was the JCC’s Half Day Trial in 1930. The trial was held at Brooklands. Patricia drove an Alvis and won a first-class award. In 1932, she entered the JCC’s Open trial in an MG Midget and received a second-class award for her performance in the under-1100cc class.


It was this year that she started racing on the Brooklands circuit itself. The MG had been exchanged for a Talbot, which she seems to have owned jointly with a Miss Hedges. This woman, who raced herself at Brooklands, was probably Grace Hedges. The two were pointedly described by the press of the time as “good friends” and may have been in a romantic relationship.


Patricia raced the Talbot between 1932 and 1934. It was not the most competitive of her cars, but she did manage a second place in the Second Walton Scratch Sprint at the 1934 March BARC meeting.


In keeping with her feminist ideals, she was a member of the Women’s Automobile and Sports Association. She took part in their one-lap handicap race at the 1932 Brooklands Guys Gala. The following year, she was part of their official team for the Stanley Cup, alongside Lotte “Irene” Schwedler and Margaret Allan.


Of all of the racing cars she drove, she got the best results out of a Frazer Nash. Her first event in it seems to have been the March meeting at Brooklands. In May, she was third in a ladies’ race at Donington Park with it.


By 1937, she had really got to grips with the Frazer Nash. she started the year by winning a Ladies award in the Brooklands Rally. Then, she won the Second Easter Long Handicap, as well as finishing second in a Sports Handicap at Crystal Palace.


In 1937, she was also part of a Frazer Nash team for the JCC Relay. They finished in seventh place. Kay Petre was part of the winning Austin team.


After that, she carried on racing until 1939, but was not quite as successful. She competed in several trials and won some awards, but there were no more race wins. After the war, she did not return to the circuits or the rally stages.


Patricia ran her own garage business, Speedy Transport and Garages, away from the track, and contributed the motoring section to the book “Careers and Vocational Training: a guide to the professions and occupations of educated women and girls”. In it, she discussed the merits of working as a “chauffeuse”, which she warned was often combined with more domestic work or a companion role, and advised on how to start a garage. She gave rough budgets for a filling station or a repair garage. “Motor racing as a career cannot be recommended except for those with plenty of money and where earning a living is not the object” was what she had to say on professional motorsport.


She died in London in 1958, aged sixty.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Antonella Mandelli


Antonella Mandelli was the 1981 European Ladies’ Champion. She was part of the Aseptogyl team early in her career, although she was more associated with the Jolly Club squad.

Antonella was born in the affluent Como region of Italy.

Her earliest major rally seems to have been Sanremo in 1977, when she was 23. She drove an Opel Kadett, but did not finish. The same car was used for the Rally Sangiacomo, also in Italy, but the results are not forthcoming. Her co-driver was Iva Boggio.

This drive got her noticed, and she was picked up by Fiat. Jolly Club were running their rally operation. In October 1978, Antonella tried Sanremo again in a Fiat 131. The car broke a driveshaft and she retired. Shortly afterwards, she became part of a six-car Team Aseptogyl, driving a smaller Fiat 127. Antonella was one of three Italian drivers, with Maurizia Baresi and Anna Cambiaghi. The other three were the experienced Frenchwomen, Christine Dacremont and Marianne Hoepfner, and Joëlle Chardin. They got an entry for the Tour de Corse, but Antonella had to drop out with an oil leak. None of the Aseptogyl cars finished.

She spent the next season in the 131, which was becoming one of the most competitive cars of its time, in the hands of Walter Röhrl and Markku Alen. It was an unforgiving car; Michele Mouton also drove one, and never liked it, despite winning two events in it. Antonella’s best result that year was an eighteenth place in the Targa Florio Rally.

The 131 finally came good for her in 1980, when she scored her first podium finish. She was third in the Rally delle Valli Piacentine.

In 1981, she travelled to the Iberian territories with Jolly Club and the 131. She was rewarded with second place in the Madeira Rally. This was a really tough event, with only 17 finishers from 69 starters. Antonella was ahead of her Jolly Club team-mate, Adartico Vudafieri, who won five rallies that year.

A one-off drive in an Alfa Romeo Giulietta in Spain was not as successful; she crashed out of the Rally Costa Brava. She did use this car in Italian rallies, but this was her only international outing in it.  

She ended the season as European Ladies’ Champion, ahead of Michela “Micky” Martinelli of Switzerland. Her other results do not seem to be widely available. Micky could not catch her in the Italian championship, either.

The 131 remained her car of choice for international rallies in 1982. She entered six ERC events, and finished in the top ten in five of them. The best of these was a seventh place in the Costa Brava Rally, which made up for her disappointment in 1981. The Madeira Rally continued to be one of her strongest events, and she was eighth this year. Her other top-tens were eighth places in the RACE Rally and Rally della Lana, and a tenth spot in the Rally 4 Regioni.

In the Italian championship, she was already trying out the newer Lancia 037 Rallye, also run by Jolly Club. She was Italian ladies’ champion at the end of the year.

She drove a Lancia 037 Rallye for Jolly Club in the 1983 European Championship. Again, Madeira was her lucky rally, and she was third. She was 18th in the Ieper 24 Hours, supporting team leader Miki Biasion, and was becoming very familiar with the powerful, Group B 037 when she had a big accident in Spain. It was during the Sol RACE Rally and she and her co-driver Tiziana Borghi were unharmed, although the car was written off. This followed an exclusion from the Costa Brava Rally due to problems at the finish.

1984 was another good season for her. Driving the 037, she repeated her third place in the Madeira Rally. Later in the season, she followed it up with a fifth in Catalunya.

This was her last season in rallying. Apparently, she married an heir to the Jack Daniels whiskey fortune and moved to the USA. She had earlier stated that she wanted to race at Le Mans and to enter the Dakar Rally, but this never came to fruition.

Antonella was clearly a very talented driver who had connections in the right places. If she had continued her career a little longer and competed more in northern Europe, she could have made a real impression on the World Rally Championship.

(Image from http://autologia.net)

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Patrizia Sciascia


Patrizia in 2004

Patrizia Sciascia was the Italian Ladies' Rally Champion in 2005. She has driven in five WRC rounds: all five San Remo rallies between 1996 and 2000. Her best finish was 32nd, third in class, in 2000.

She was born in 1971 in Sanremo. Her father was a rally driver and she was interested in the sport from an early age.

Fittingly, the Sanremo Rally was her first big international event, in 1995. Her car was a Peugeot 309 and she does not appear to have finished. She returned to Sanremo in 1996 and got to the finish this time, in 41st place. Her car was an Opel Corsa.

Her next two Sanremo Rallies, in 1997 and 1998, ended in retirement. She used a Ford Escort Cosworth in 1997, and a Renault Clio Williams in 1998. The Clio became her regular car for the next four seasons.

She continued to compete in Italian national rallies, with her annual WRC outing at Sanremo. In 2000, she finished in the top ten for the first time, coming in tenth in the Rallye Limone e dei 100,000 Trabucchi, held in Piedmont.

It went a little quieter for Patrizia for the next two seasons, but one highlight was a seventh place in the 2002 Rally Alba. She was driving the Clio and was one of 71 finishers.

In 2003, she took another step forward in her rally career with her first podium. Driving the Clio again, she was third in the Andora Rallysprint. That year, she alternated between the Clio and an Opel Astra, with the familiar Clio giving her better results. She was 19th in the Rally della Lanterna and won class N3 in May. The Astra may have been more difficult to drive, but it was in this car that she ventured back into international competition, after a break of two years. She entered the San Marino Rally, a European Championship round, and was 49th, eleventh in class.

For 2004, she settled on Cristina Biondi as a co-driver. The two had worked together on and off in 2003. Patrizia went back to the Clio as her car of choice; she only drove the Astra once, in the Rally Prealpi Trevigiane Terra. She was 39th and second in class. Again, the Clio suited her better. She was third in the Andora Rallysprint at the start of the season, and third again in the Rally del Valli Imperiesi in October. In between, she had her best-ever finish in the Sanremo Rally, which was no longer a WRC round. She was eleventh, and won class A7.

Between the end of 2004 and the start of 2005, Patrizia was announced as the winner of the “Woman in Blue” prize. Subaru Italy was keen to recruit an all-female crew for a shot at the Italian ladies’ championship, and she was judged to be a better bet than Monica Burigo, who started rallying at about the same time.

Patrizia duly won the ladies’ prize in 2005. Her car was a Group N Subaru Impreza and her best results were two fourteenth places, in the Sanremo and San Marino rallies. She was a frequent top-twenty finisher and was also sixteenth in the Mille Miglia, which had been revived as a stage rally.

In 2006, she stayed on as a Subaru Italy driver. Her programme was shorter than in 2005, but still included some of the big Italian rallies. She was 20th in Sanremo, co-driven by Samantha de Colle this time. Her best result was another third in the Rally del Valli Imperiesi. She was the leading Group N competitor.

Her contract with Subaru ended after 2006 and she returned to rallying the Clio. She was fifth in the Andora Rallysprint and contested some Italian sealed-surface events. The best of these was the Beta Rally Oltrepo, in which she was 19th. She was 27th in Sanremo.

2008 started in the same fashion. She drove the Clio in the Targa Florio and Mille Miglia, finishing 23rd and 27th. This led to a ride in a Peugeot 207 S2000 car. Its first outing was Sanremo, where Patrizia did not finish. Later, she entered the Rally del Valli Imperiesi again. This was always a good event for her, and she was fourth this year.

She was fifteenth in the 2009 Targa Florio, driving the Peugeot, and later used it for the Sanremo Rally. It wasn’t one of her best Sanremo drives, but she was solidly midfield in 32nd place. In between, she had a one-off drive in the Impreza for the San Marino Rally, and drove the Clio in the Rally Friuli Alpi Orientali. Both of these yielded more midfield finishes.

After 2010, she became a very occasional driver. She picked up another Peugeot 207 seat for Sanremo in 2010, finishing 30th. It was a round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) this year.

She was 15th in the Ronde di Andorra in 2011, driving a Clio. Later in the year, she won her class in the Ronde Enna, Sicily. She was sixth overall.

In 2015, she came out of retirement for a guest appearance at the Monza Rally Show, driving a Peugeot 207. She did not finish.

Away from motorsport, Patrizia works as a lawyer. She has been involved in motorsport-related cases, including disputes with the Italian motorsport authorities.

(Image copyright Rally Company)