Thursday, 8 November 2018

Miki Koyama

Mihime “Miki“ Koyama races in Formula 4 in Japan. She was also the 2017 champion in the women-only Kyojo Cup.

Miki was 18 when she first started racing cars, although she raced karts both at home in Japan and abroad from the age of five, between 2003 and 2013. 2015 was her debut season in Formula 4, following a driver training programme. She entered the last four races of the year. Her best finishes were at Motegi, but were only two 26th places.

In 2016, she was set to race full-time in Formula 4, driving for the miNami aoYama Project, but this did not happen, and she only made five appearances from 14 rounds. Her best result was an eleventh place, at Okayama. One of her team-mates was Ayaka Imahashi, another young female driver.

She did a full season of Formula 4 in 2017 but struggled. Her best finish was 18th, at Autopolis. She was unplaced in the championship. Mid-season, she contested the two rounds of the inaugural Kyojo Cup at Fuji, driving a VITA-01 sports prototype. She won both races and was crowned the champion when the third round was abandoned due to a typhoon.

This was not her first experience of sportscar racing; she took part in some rounds of the 2016 Interproto Series, earning one third place. This is a one-make sportscar series like the Kyojo Cup that uses the “Kuruma”, a spec car.

In 2017, she did more one-make racing in the Honda N-One Owners Cup, which uses the N-One supercompact. Miki participated in five races and won two. Staying with Honda, she made a guest appearance in the FIT Challenge Cup, another one-make series.

For Miki, 2018 was split again between Formula 4, the Kyojo Cup and guest spots in Japanese sportscar series. This year, she did her first 24-hour race in June. She was third in the Super Taikyu 24 Hours at Fuji, as part of a six-driver team in a Toyota GT86.

In Formula 4, she drove for the Field Motorsports team and was 15th overall. It was her best season to date and included three top-ten finishes: a seventh and two ninths at Fuji. The series had big entries of more than 20 cars per race.

At the time of writing, she has won three rounds of the Kyojo Cup and looks to retain her title.

(Image from

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Margie Smith-Haas

Margie (Mary Margaret) Smith-Haas is an American sportscar driver who raced at Le Mans in 1984 and 1985. She usually drove Porsches.

In 1984, she drove a Porsche 930 run by Charles Ivey Racing, sharing with Paul Smith and David Ovey. The car made it to just under half-distance before an oil leak triggered its retirement. The following year, she drove a J. Winther Denmark URD C83 prototype, which also did not finish. Its BMW engine expired after 141 laps, despite the best efforts of Margie, Jens Winther and David Mercer.

Le Mans was only a small part of Margie’s career. She was active in motorsport between 1978 1995, beginning when she was 28 years old and recently married to Paul Haas. The couple met competing in a time trial.

Her first major race was the Road Atlanta 500 Miles in 1979. She drove a Porsche 914 run by Personalized Porsche with Paul Haas and Wayne Baker. They were 27th overall and eleventh in class.

The Personalized Porsche car came out again for a second IMSA race, the Riverside 5 Hours in 1980. Margie was 26th, as part of a three-driver team with Paul and Jeff Scott.

A break from racing followed, but when Margie returned to competition in 1983 she was no less ambitious. She raced in Europe for the first time, beginning with the Monza 1000km in April. This was the first of four European Endurance Championship races she entered. Her car was a Group C Porsche CK5, shared with Tony Dron and team owner Richard Cleare. They retired early on with an oil leak.

She was scheduled to contest the Silverstone 1000km for Edgar Dören’s team but did not make the start, despite qualifying in 28th place. Her next event was the Brands Hatch 1000km, the first of two in a Charles Ivey Racing Porsche 930. Margie, Paul Smith and David Ovey took the Group B car to 15th place against the Group C leviathans, and then finished thirteenth at Mugello.

Having shared a track with motorsport royalty like Jacky Ickx and Bob Wollek for much of the season, Margie found herself among Hollywood royalty in April when she partnered actor Gene Hackman for the Riverside 6 Hours. She was driving a Toyota Celica run by Dan Gurney’s All-American Racers team. The event, which was overshadowed by the death of Rolf Stommelen, led to a 16th place for Margie.

She did some more European Endurance rounds in 1984, again in the Charles Ivey 930, but could not finish any of them, including Le Mans as mentioned above. Le Mans was not the only 24-hour she entered, however: she was part of a three-driver team for the Daytona 24 Hours, driving a Porsche 911 RSR for Team Dallas with Paul Gilgan and John Zouzelka. They were 27th, sixth in class.  

Later in the year she did her first race in the southern hemisphere. She was invited by Gebhardt Motorsport to drive its BMW-engined prototype at the Sandown 1000km in Australia, as part of an all-female team. Margie, Cathy Muller and Australian Sue Ransom managed 95 laps, somewhat under half-distance, before the car’s suspension gave way.

Margie’s 1985 Le Mans outing became her only big race of the year. She attempted to qualify for the Daytona 24 Hours in a Porsche 924 run by El Salvador Racing, but did not even make the official qualifying sessions. Her career was now in one of its leaner periods. In 1986, she tried to enter the Trans Am series in a Porsche 924, but the car was unreliable and never made the start of either race for which she officially registered.

She and Paul managed to get the 924 to two IMSA races in 1987, at Portland and Del Mar. They did enter more, but did not start. Margie was 27th in the Portland 300km and twelfth in the 45-minute Del Mar race, driving solo this time.

In 1988, she joined the American City Racing League, representing San Diego. This was the first year that the championship ran. Margie ran the three-car San Diego team that raced against similar teams from Hollywood, Sacramento and other US cities. Her own racing season was shortened as she spent the first part of it recovering from neck surgery after a road traffic accident.

She competed in the Sports 2000 class using a 2000cc one-make Sports 2000 car.. After a couple of seasons she became one of its leading drivers, finishing third in 1991 and winning the title in 1994 after leading for most of the season. This was the first win in a pro racing series for a female driver, in the USA at least.

Her last major sportscar race was the 1995 Daytona 24 Hours. Margie was back in a Group C car, driving a Spice SE90 for Screaming Eagles Racing. Her co-drivers included another Hollywood actor, Craig T Nelson. They did not finish following an accident.

Her last professional race looks to have been one of the ACRL rounds in 1996. She did four races in the series that year and was eleventh in the final standings.

She did return to the tracks briefly in 2002 for some races in the ACRL and was thirteenth overall.

After her retirement, she was a member of the all-female PPG Pace Car team attached to CART. At present, she runs a small company producing car-themed gifts, chiefly novelty cushions in the shape of famous racing cars.

(Image from

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Fabienne Wohlwend

Fabienne Wohlwend is from Liechtenstein and races in the Ferrari Challenge in Europe.

2016 was her first season of senior motorsport, after eight years of karting. She won two junior karting titles at home in Liechtenstein and also ran well in the Swiss championships.

She raced in Italian Formula 4 in 2016, as Liechtenstein has very few motorsport facilities of its own and no major championships. Switzerland hosts no petrol-powered motorsport at all. She did almost a complete season for Aragon Racing, as a single-car team. Her best finishes were two seventeenth places, at Adria and Vallelunga, and she was unplaced in the championship. At the end of the year, she chalked it all up as experience, describing Formula 4 as a “racing school”.

In 2017, she moved focus from single-seaters to tin-tops and sportscars. One reason for this was that she wished to continue her banking apprenticeship as well as her racing, and single-seaters required more intensive commitment. She was eleventh in the final season of the Audi Sport TT Cup, with four top-ten finishes. The best of these was an eighth place at Hockenheim. This was impressive considering that she had no budget to test the car, relying on track tests in a TCR-spec car and simulator work.

On the sportscar side, she raced in the Ferrari Challenge Europe in a 488, and won a race at Imola. Despite only doing six rounds of the fourteen-round championship, she was sixth overall, due to her four podium finishes. At the end of the year, she was third in the World Final, driving for the Octane 126 team.

Octane 126 retained her services for the 2018 season. She was racing their 488 in the Pirelli Trophy Amateur class of the Ferrari Challenge. The class was dominated by British driver Chris Froggatt, but Fabienne managed to win three times at Misano, from pole each time, and secure seven additional podiums. She was second in the class.  

Fabienne still works part-time in banking to help fund her sporting activities.

(Image from

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Yvonne Simon

Yvonne and her co-driver Regine Gordine at the 1951 Monte

Yvonne Simon was a versatile French driver who showed skill in both sportscar racing and rallying in the 1950s.

She raced Ferraris at Le Mans twice, in 1950 and 1951. Her first attempt, partnering Michel Casse in Luigi Chinetti’s 166 MM Berlinetta, ended with an empty fuel tank on lap 25. However, a second run in the same car in 1951 gave her and Betty Haig a 15th place, third in class.

Her two Le Mans entries came in the later part of her career, which had begun in the 1930s. Among her earliest achievements was a second place in the 1937 Paris-St. Raphaël Rally driving a Hotchkiss Grand Sport. She was only 20 years old. Two years later in 1939, she won the all-female event outright, in the same car. A few months earlier, she had won her first Monte Carlo Rally Coupe des Dames, driving the Hotchkiss with Suzanne Largeot and starting from Athens. This was her third attempt at the Monte, after failing to finish the 1937 event in a Matford and co-driving Louise Lamberjack’s Hotchkiss to eleventh in 1938.

Among her other notable pre-war rally results was a seventh overall in the 1939 Criterium Paris-Nice, in the Hotchkiss.

She began circuit racing not long after her rally debut, in 1938. She and her rally team-mate Suzanne Largeot entered the Paris 12 Hours at Montlhéry, driving a Simca belonging to Yvonne. They were eighth overall, second in the 1100cc class.

Her earliest win was in a ladies-only race using Renault Juvaquatres. It was held at the Péronne circuit as part of that year’s Picardie Grand Prix. Yvonne defeated Hellé Nice to win. She entered one other women’s one-make race that year at Comminges, but the result is not known.

As soon as motorsport recommenced after the war, Yvonne was back in action. She shared a Delahaye with Germaine Rouault for the Spa 24 Hours in 1949 and was eleventh overall, first in the 4000cc class. The car was probably Germaine’s.

It seems to be about this time that Yvonne got to know Luigi Chinetti. She raced against him in that year’s Spa 24 Hours, which he won. In 1950, she started racing his Ferrari 166 MM. It is sometimes credited as Yvonne’s own car, but its chassis number, 0042M, remains the same.

Her first race in this car was the Circuito de Porto, in which she was fourth overall and won her class. She also competed in the Rouen and German Grands Prix, although the results are not forthcoming.

In the same car, she won a 3-litre race in Nice and finished the Mille Miglia, 90th and seventh in class with Alberico Cacciari. Later in the year, she was sixth in the Circuito di Senigallia.

She even drove the Ferrari in the Paris-St. Raphaël Rally and was second overall. Rallying was far from forgotten: she had already finished second in the women’s standings in the 1951 Monte Carlo Rally in a Simca. The Ferrari made another unlikely rally appearance in the Rallye du Maroc, held in the Atlas mountains. Yvonne and Alberico Cacciari were 19th.

Entering a different Ferrari herself, she had another go at the Senigallia race in 1952, but did not finish. She was also eighth in the 1952 Reims GP and thirteenth in the Bari GP. This car was another 166, but had a Zagato body. For the St. Raphaël Rally, she drove a Renault 1063 and posted the first of three consecutive wins.

The same car and driver combination won the 1953 Paris-St. Raphaël, ahead of class winner Paola della Chiesa’s Lancia Aurelia.

1953’s racing season was meant to start with the Mille Miglia, but the Fiat 1100 that Yvonne was scheduled to share with her St. Raphaël rival Paola della Chiesa did not make the start. A couple of months later, a last outing in the Ferrari led to an eleventh place in the Monza Grand Prix. Most of Yvonne’s major races this year were in Italy; she raced another Ferrari in her only attempt at the Pescara 12 Hours in August, sharing with a driver called Giarelli.

Her biggest home race of the year was also the major debut of her new car, a 745cc Panhard Monopole. She was fourteenth in the Reims 12 Hours with Jean Hémard in this car. Early in the season, it had proved itself a decent rally car with the first of two St. Raphaël wins.

In 1954, driving the Monopole, she was fourth in the Nimes GP, just behind Elie Bayol. She entered the Reims 12 Hours again with Jean de Montrémy in the same car, but they crashed out.

The same car and driver pairing attempted the Bol d’Or in 1955. The race was held at Montlhéry over 24 hours and they were tenth, second in the 750cc class.

This was Yvonne’s last major circuit race. She continued in rallying for another couple of seasons and won her final St. Raphaël event in 1957, driving the Panhard.  

She died in 1992, at the age of 75.

(Image from

Thursday, 4 October 2018

The RAC Rally Ladies' Cup

Ann Wisdom (left) and Pat Moss in 1961

The RAC Rally, now known as the Wales Rally GB, has its own ladies’ award, usually for the best-performing all-female crew. It is not awarded every year, but this list is almost certainly incomplete and will be extended in the future. If you have any information, please comment or message me.

In the early days, separate awards for female drivers in Open and Closed cars existed. These were scrapped in the mid-1950s when car classes changed.

Joan Richmond (Triumph) - open car Ladies’ Cup
Midge Wilby (Armstrong-Siddeley) - closed car Ladies’ Cup

Kay Hague (Riley) - open car Ladies’ Cup
Joan Chetwynd (Fordd) - closed car Ladies’ Cup

Hiatus for WWII

Anne Hall (Newton)/Margaret Newton (Jaguar XK120) - open car Ladies’ Cup
Sheila van Damm/Elsie Wisdom (Hillman Minx) - closed car Ladies’ Cup

Anne Hall (Newton)/Mary Newton (Jaguar XK120) - open car Ladies’ Cup
Hazel Dunham/Charlotte Sadler (Rover) - closed car Ladies’ Cup

Mary Walker (Triumph TR2)

Sheila van Damm/Anne Hall (Sunbeam Talbot)

Angela Palfrey/”Miss A Jervis” (Austin A40)

No rally held

Pat Moss/Ann Wisdom (Morris Minor 1000)

Anne Hall/Patsy Burt (Ford Anglia 105E) - 20th

Anne Hall/Valerie Domleo (Ford)

Pat Moss/Ann Wisdom (Austin-Healey 3000) - 2nd

Pat Moss/Pauline Mayman (Austin-Healey 3000) - 3rd

Pat Moss/Jennifer Nadin (Ford Cortina GT) - 7th

Pat Moss/Liz Nystrom (Saab 96) - 4th

Pat Moss/Liz Nystrom (Saab 96) - 10th

Pat Moss/Liz Nystrom (Saab 96) - 9th

Jill Robinson/Audrey Scott (BMW 2002 Ti) - 58th

Liz Crellin/Pat Wright (Austin Mini Cooper) - 36th

Marie-Claude Beaumont/Martine de la Grandrive (Opel Ascona)

Eeva Heinonen/Selia Saaristo (Volvo 142) - 32nd

Pat Moss/Liz Crellin (Toyota Celica GT) - 28th

Louise Aitken-Walker/Ellen Morgan (Peugeot 205 GTi) - 16th, class win

(Image copyright S&G and Barratts/EMPICS Sport)

Friday, 28 September 2018

Carole Perrin

Carole Perrin is a former single-seater racer from France who has competed most recently in stock car racing in Europe. She was nicknamed “Pink Panther” due to her preference for pink cars.

Her first senior experience after three karting titles was when she tried ice racing in the 2004-05 Andros Trophy, and was third in the Trophée Féminin. She was 18 and also managed to earn the “Ice Girls” rookie award.

She tried to enter Formula Ford in 2006, but the championship was cancelled. Switching abruptly to tin-tops, she found a seat in the Clio Cup in France. Her season lasted four races before she was sidelined by a heavy crash at the Pau street circuit.

She returned to the scene in 2008, in the Formula Academy Euroseries, another single-seater series based on the cars previously used in Formula Campus. Her best finish was 12th at Spa.

She first raced a NASCAR-style stock car in the Racecar series in France in 2009, finishing third once at Albi. She was 16th overall in the championship but ran well in the Open class, scoring wins at Albi and Lédenon. Her final class position was fifth.

In 2010, she continued in Racecar, now running as the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series. She finished fifth in the championship, this time in the Elite class. Her best finishes were a third at Le Mans and fourth at Lédenon.

Driving a Chevrolet Monte Carlo in Euro NASCAR in 2011, she scored her first win at Motorland Aragon, as well as a fastest lap. The series had official FIA backing this year. She did not complete the season, and was only 17th overall.

Carole stayed in the Euro NASCAR Elite class for the following season, driving a Chevrolet Camaro. She was 16th overall, with one podium finish: a third at Spa. Her other top-ten finish was an eighth place at Nogaro. A single Open class race at Brands Hatch in May gave her an outright win. As well as her on-track results, she gained some attention for her “Pink Panther”- themed art car, designed by French painter Didier Chamizo.

In 2013, she ran a limited programme in Euro NASCAR, in the Elite class. Her best finish was fifth, having started from a lowly 19th place. One of her team-mates at Autosport 42 was French rallycross driver Caty Caly.

She struggled for sponsorship in 2014 and tried to use crowdfunding to secure a race seat. She made a guest appearance at the Loire meeting of Euro NASCAR and finished one race, in 20th place.

Her sponsorship position was better in 2015; she took part in the whole Whelen NASCAR Euro series, in the Elite 2 class. Her best finish was sixth, at Zolder, one of four top-ten finishes. She was tenth overall. Despite doing quite well in 2015, she did not have enough sponsorship to race in 2016. She had been supported by the town of St Etienne itself, but they pulled out.

She has been absent from the circuits since then.

(Image from

Monday, 24 September 2018

Michaelle Burns-Greig

Michaelle Burns-Greig raced in the British Saloon Car Championship in the 1960s, usually in a Mini.

Michaelle (sometimes referred to as Michelle) is from Duns in the Scottish borders. She may have picked up her taste for adventure from her mother, Dorothy, who was a pilot and the first female radio operator to run her own transmission station.

After starting her career in club events and hillclimbs, she had her first BSCC experience in 1963, at the Silverstone International Trophy meeting. Her best finish was eleventh, in the Small Car Trophy at Crystal Palace.

A week later, she raced in the Daily Express’s “Fast Girl Trophy” at Brands Hatch in May, driving the Mini. Despite colliding with Gabriel Konig at low speed during the formation lap, she finished second behind Joey Freeman’s Aston Martin.

In 1964, she entered one BSCC race at Aintree, but it does not look as if she actually raced. At some point during the year she took part in at least one event at Charterhall in Scotland.

She did another part-season in 1965, with a best finish of fifteenth, at Snetterton. After that, she disappears from the touring car entry lists.

A Newcastle local paper describes her as “one of Britain’s only female single-seater racers” in 1967 and says that she raced regularly at Croft for the H&G Robinson team. Details of her potential single-seater career are not forthcoming.

After retiring from motorsport, she followed her mother into local politics in the Borders, where she remained active for many years.

Michaelle was noted for carrying a numberplate reading “SEX1” on her car as she raced.