Monday, 18 June 2018

Women in Indy Lights


Sarah McCune in 2004, during a test for Kathryn Nunn Racing

Indy Lights is the second-tier racing series of the Indycar ladder. Over the years, it has had several changes of name and been run by CART, Indycar and the IRL. The basic formula of a one-model junior championship has remained roughly the same, however.

Until recently, Indycar was not a particularly welcoming place for female drivers. Indy Lights has had correspondingly few women entrants. A higher number were involved with the Toyota Atlantic series, a similar championship in the USA.


1986 (CART American Racing Series)
Desire Wilson (driver) - 24th

1987-88
No female entrants

1989
Cathy Muller (McNeill Motorsports) - 26th

1990
Cathy Muller (McNeill Motorsports/Stuart Moore Racing) - 16th
Cheryl Glass (Glass Racing) -22nd

1991 (CART Firestone/PPG/Dayton Indy Lights Series)
Desire Wilson (Leading Edge Motorsport) - 24th
Cheryl Glass (Glass Racing) - unplaced

1992
Kat Teasdale (Leading Edge Motorsport) - unplaced

1993-2004
No female entrants

2005 (IRL Infiniti Pro Series)
Mishael Abbott (Hemelgarn) - 13th
Sarah McCune (Sam Schmidt Motorsports) - 23rd

2006 (IRL Indy Pro Series)
Mishael Abbott (Michael Crawford Motorsports) - 26th
Veronica McCann (United & Classic Trailers) - 37th

2007
Leilani Munter (Sam Schmidt Motorsports) - 33rd

2008 (Indycar Indy Lights)
Bia Figueiredo (Sam Schmidt Motorsports) - 3rd
Cyndie Allemann (American Spirit Racing) - 14th
Christina Orr-West (Alliance Motorsports) - 30th

2009
Bia Figueiredo (Sam Schmidt Motorsports) - 8th
Pippa Mann (Panther Racing) - 14th

2010
Pippa Mann (Sam Schmidt Motorsports) - 5th
Carmen Jorda (Andersen Racing) - 16th

2011-18
No female entrants

(Image copyright Gregg Ellmann/motorsport.com)

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Emma Kimilainen



Emma Kimilainen (Liuski) is single-seater and touring car driver from Finland.

The early part of her career was spent in single-seaters, after beginning karting at the age of three. She first raced cars in 2005, in Finnish Formula Ford, coming second overall and winning a string of rookie awards.

As well as the Finnish title, she was also fifth in the Northern Europe Formula Ford Championship, and did some races in the Swedish series.

She missed out on a Finnish Formula Ford title in 2006, finishing second again, and it was an even more close-fought thing in the NEZ series. Emma was tied for points with Sami Isohella of Finland at the end of the season, but he edged her out with five wins to her four.

In 2007, she switched to sportscars and was consistently in the top three in Swedish Formula Radical. Her three wins were enough to cement her third place in the championship, as well as a runner-up spot in the National class. She was supported by Swedish ex-Formula 1 driver Stefan Johansson.

She competed in German Formula ADAC in 2008, after undertaking a DTM test during the off-season for Audi. The German marque supported her in this after she was unable to get a DTM race seat.

Her overall result was tenth, with a single podium finish: a second place at Assen. Most of her finishes were in the top ten and she out-performed her Van Amersfoort Racing team-mate, Marcus Eriksson. Daniel Abt was another of her rivals.

In 2009, she travelled to the UK to race in Formula Palmer Audi, after a successful test. She was the series' fastest female driver, with two seconds and two thirds, and a fifth place overall. This came after a difficult start at Brands Hatch, the only time she finished out of the top ten. She was racing against Felix Rosenqvist, Josef Newgarden and Maria de Villota.   

She was set to return in 2010, but does not appear to have raced, although she did test for the Charouz AutoGP team.

She was not involved with motorsport for a long time after that. Partly this was due to the ever-present sponsorship problem, but she used her time away to finish her education, get married and become a mother. The result was a degree in chemistry and two daughters. She was also briefly involved in politics in Finland.

She came back to motorsport in 2014, driving a Saab 9-3 in the Scandinavian Touring Car Championship. She had an eventful season, crashing into Prince Carl Philip of Sweden in her first race, at Knutstorp, then crashing again, at Göteborg. One high point was a second place at Falkenberg, and she did manage some other top tens. She was eleventh overall, admitting herself that she was out of practice.

A second season in Scandinavian Touring Cars ran more smoothly, with a more consistent Emma finishing seventh overall. Her best finish was third, achieved at Mantorp Park and Anderstorp. She earned four more top-five positions and only had one DNF all season.

She raced a SEAT Leon in the 2016 STCC, but unreliability problems struck. Her best finish was a sixth place at Anderstorp. After the tenth race, she left the championship abruptly due to issues out of her control, leaving her in eleventh place. She had already missed another round earlier in the season.

For 2017, she announced that she would be taking part in a new electric racing initiative, Electric GT: this did not come together in time.

Instead, she drove a thirsty Ford Mustang in Thundercars, in Sweden and Finland. She won two of her six races in Finland, and finished the rest on the podium. She earned one podium in the Swedish series; a second at Ahvenisto.

Emma is set to race a Tesla P1000D in Electric GTs from late 2018.

(Image copyright Yle/Mikael Oivo)

Friday, 8 June 2018

Anne Wong


Anne Wong is a Singaporean driver best known as the winner of the 1970 Macau Grand Prix race, in a Mini.

Born in 1949, she was quite well-travelled as a teenager, moving between Singapore and Malaysia. Both her father and uncle were involved in the local motorsport scene and Anne picked up an enthusiasm for cars. She had learned to drive at the age of twelve and passed her test at sixteen.

In the late 1960s she was living in the UK and attending college. She enrolled in the Motor Racing Stables driving school at Brands Hatch, but did not finish the course. It was only when she returned to Singapore and watched a friend racing a car that her father had prepared that she made her real start in motorsport. The car was a Hillman Imp; she planned to try racing it herself but did not make any starts in it.

Her first big race was in 1970, although she may have taken part in some club rallies or autotests earlier. She entered the Singapore Grand Prix, then held on a 4.8km street circuit. Her car was a Mini Cooper, which unfortunately did not last the distance.

A few weeks later, she raced in Malaysia for the first time. She took the Mini to the Batu Tiga track at Shah Alam and finished third in a race there. In April, she won the under-1000cc class at the Selangor Grand Prix.

At the end of the year, she entered the same car into the Macau Grand Prix, in the touring car race. She started from last on the 30-car grid, having only just qualified. There was an additional worry about an attack of german measles that almost kept her from the track.

Anne steadily progressed up the grid and took the lead after Johnny Leffler’s Ford Escort suffered a broken differential and Dieter Quester’s works BMW lost its gears.

Her Macau win led to offers of drives all over the Asia-Pacific region. In June 1971, she raced at Wanneroo Park in Australia, sharing a Mini with Australian driver Ric Lisle in a six-hour enduro. They were leading their class when a piston cracked after an hour and a half.

Shortly after that, she was set to travel to Manila for the Philippines Grand Prix. She did not make the start for reasons unknown, but she did predict that the race would be won by a Mini Cooper S in the Straits Times newspaper. She had already declined an entry in the BP Rally in order to concentrate on the Philippines race.

The invitation to race in Australia came while she was driving in another rally, the Rothmans event, in Hong Kong. For a change, she was driving a Simca 1200 offered by National Motors of Hong Kong. She did not finish after an off into some water.

Her second attempt at the Singapore Grand Prix was more fruitful. She was seventh overall in the Mini from 26 starters, and her top ten was in spite a lengthy pitstop to deal with a loose exhaust.

She tried again in at Macau too, and was seventh, in the Mini. This was one of her first events with her new sponsorship from Malaysia Singapore Airlines (MSA). By now, she was a popular media figure; this was helped by her sideline as a motoring journalist for the Straits Times and other papers.

Announcements at the start of 1972 proclaimed that Anne would be taking part in fifteen events, including some of the saloon rounds of the Tasman Series in Australia. Her first event was the Manila Grand Prix. She was billed as racing against 173 men, but the results are proving hard to find. She may also have taken part in another Singapore Grand Prix.

In April, she did her first race in Indonesia, when she entered the Penang Grand Prix. Later in the year, she won the saloon race at the Indonesian Grand Prix, held at Antjol. She started from third and defeated eleven other drivers.

Her third Macau Grand Prix ended in disaster. She had qualified fifth on the grid but had to retire on the first lap due to a fire in her Mini. It turned out to be an electrical short-circuit.

By this time, she was having trouble with sponsorship. MSA had become Singapore International Airways and they dragged their feet providing the funding for the Macau race. In early 1973, she pulled out of the Singapore Grand Prix, having sold her Mini. She said in the Straits Times that it was “not economical for a private entry to try and compete against factory teams.”

She did race at the Malaysian Grand Prix in a V8 Ford Fairmont, but she found it too wide for the narrow circuit. Her own write-up of the event suggested that she had won, but in fact she had been black-flagged. She later apologised in print.

In May, she was entered in to the Penang Grand Prix in an Alfa Romeo Berlina, but it is not clear whether she actually started the race.

She retired from the circuits in 1974 and continued to work as a journalist, as well as an advertising executive. In June, she made her debut as a jockey, winning a pro-am ladies’ race at Bukit Timah.

In 1979 she was the official starter for the Malaysian Grand Prix. She was not quite able to get her need for speed out of her system and reappeared in the Singapore press in 1984, this time racing powerboats. Six years later, in 1990, she entered the Rally of Singapore for the first time in almost twenty years.

She continued to work in advertising. Later, she married.

(Image copyright Straits Times)

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Laura Kraihamer



Laura Kraihamer is an Austrian driver who races a KTM X-Bow around Europe.

Her first season was 2012, and she was twelfth in the Rookie standings of the KTM X-Bow Battle series, with best finishes of sixth place. This is a one-make championship for KTM’s lightweight sportscar.

Despite running a full season in 2013, and maintaining her best finish, she was only 23rd in the X-Bow Battle.

In 2014, she was a much improved driver. She was second in the Sprint standings of the championship, with one win and four second places. Driving with Uwe Schmidt, she won the Endurance class of the X-Bow championship.

This year, she started to explore her options and tested cars for the FIA GT3 series and the VLN. She drove a BMW Z4 at the Nordschleife but it would not be for a couple of years that she actually competed there.

In 2015, she was part of a televised challenge, the "Race to 24", for drivers competing for a race seat in the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2016. Twenty-four aspiring racers took part. This was in addition to another season in the X-Bow; she was seventh in the Battle series and second in the Endurance championship, with Uwe Schmidt. They were racing as “Team Eat The Ball”.

2016 was another year with KTM, but in the European GT4 Championship. She was eighteenth in the Pro class, after a string of lower top-ten finishes. Her team-mate was Jamie Vandenbalck. She was racing for the Reiter Engineering team and they also entered her in three rounds of the X-Bow Battle series. She was second once and third once and was the best of six Reiter drivers.

She had another season in the European GT4 championship in 2017, driving the X-Bow for the Reiter team. Her car was the best-performing Reiter entry, with third places at the Red Bull Ring and the Nürburgring. She was thirteenth in the championship.

She was also thirteenth in the X-Bow Battle series. She helped her team to seventh in the Team standings.

In 2018, she is contesting another European GT4 Championship with Team True, another KTM/Reiter-affiliated team. She is sharing her car with Reinhard Kofler. At the time of writing, she has secured one eighth place, at Zolder. She was 30th and 26th at Brands Hatch and did not finish the first Zolder race.

Team True also entered a car in the 2018 Nürburgring 24 Hours. Laura was part of an all-female team in an X-Bow, with Naomi Schiff, Rahel Frey and Lena Strycek. They finished in 39th place, second in the Cup X class.

Laura is from a motorsport family; her brother Dominik also races sportscars.

She has an official FIA ranking of Silver.

(Image copyright european.gt4series.com)

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Carrie Schreiner



Carrie Schreiner started racing GT cars in 2017, after some years of single-seater racing. She won the Pro-Am class of the Middle East Lamborghini Super Trofeo in early 2018.

Carrie is a former karter with two German championships under her belt. She took her first steps in senior motorsport when she tested a Formula 4 car in the UK at the end of 2014, with a view to competing in the Winter Series. She did not take up the drive.

In 2015, she raced in the German ADAC Formula 4 championship. Her best results were two 15th places, at Hockenheim and Oschersleben. She was 44th in the championship, and was the best of the three female drivers taking part this year.

She managed to race in both British and German F4 in 2016, performing much better in the UK. She managed one fourth place, at Thruxton, and two other top-tens, leaving her 17th in the championship. Her team in the UK was Double R Racing.

She struggled in the German series. She only managed to get in the top twenty at Hockenheim, in the last meeting of the season, and was unplaced in the championship.

In 2017, she switched from small single-seaters to big sportscars, spending much of the year racing a Lamborghini Huracan in the European and Asian Super Trofeo. She was second in the Pro division of the Middle East championship, driving for the FFF Lamborghini Squadra Corse with Richard Goddard. Their best overall finishes were two fifth places at Chang.

In the European Trofeo, she drove for Konrad Motorsport, competing in both the Pro and Am classes at different times. Her Pro drives were at Silverstone and yielded a sixth and seventh place. Later, she drove as an amateur in the Nürburgring and Spa rounds, scoring a fifth place in each.

She drove for FFF in the World Finals, and finished ninth and eighth in the Am class, with one fastest lap.

Back home, she also tried out an Audi R8 LMS in the DMV Gran Turismo Touring Car Cup. She was third in her second race at Hockenheim.

For 2018, she switched to the Konrad team for the Middle East Lamborghini Trofeo, driving with Axcil Jeffries who had been her rival in 2017. It was a good partnership; Carrie ended the winter season as the Pro-Am champion, with three wins and two second places. Her best overall results were two second places, at Dubai and Yas Marina. Pro-Am is the biggest class in the championship.

She also returned the Audi R8 and the DMV Cup, racing in Class 1. The first two rounds at Hockenheim gave her a third and her first win in the series. The second races of the season were held at Dijon and she scored another win and a second place with co-driver Kevin Arnold. Her wins came from pole positions and she set fastest laps in the process.

In 2018, she was also announced as an official member of the Lamborghini junior racing squad. She will contest the 2018 European Super Trofeo with Konrad.

(Image copyright Carrie Schreiner)

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Female Drivers in Touring Cars: Canada


Stephanie Ruys de Perez

Female drivers have been a regular fixture in the Canadian Touring Car Championship during the past few years. Canada has produced a number of other women racers such as Monique Proulx, but it is the CTCC that seems to be their favoured destination at the moment.

Crystel Charest - raced in the Canadian Touring Car Championship in 2016 and 2017. Her car was a Mini Cooper run by Octane Racing both times. Her best result came in 2016: a fourth place at Trois-Rivieres. Previously, and alongside her CTCC events, she raced the Mini in the Super Production Challenge in Canada. She was a career-best sixth in the 2017 championship, after an eleventh place in 2016 and twelfth in 2015. Crystel has been working as a dentist in Quebec since 1992.

Marie-France Gagné – raced in the Canadian Touring Car Championship in 2014. She drove a Mini Cooper in the Touring class. It was her first season in the series, and she acquitted herself well, with a best finish of sixth, and tenth in the 22-driver Touring class. She was competing with her husband, Éric Lacouture, as a team-mate. They are both dentists.

Nathalie Hénault – raced in the Canadian Touring Car Championship in 2014, after several years of regional and club competition. She was racing in the Super class, and her car was a Subaru WRX. Right from the first round, she was on the pace, finishing eighth. Her best finishes were a pair of third places, both at Calabogie. She was fifth in the championship, and probably would have been higher without a string of DNFs near the end of the season. A second season of the CTCC ended quite similarly in 2015; Nathalie was more consistent, and had a better finishing record, and was fifth again, with a best finish of fifth at Shannonville. Her car was the Impreza. She raced in the Subaru in at least some rounds of the GT Challenge in 2016. In 2017, she was third in the Super Touring class of the CTCC, driving the Impreza. She scored two seconds and two third places.

Lindsay Rice - raced in the CTCC in 2017. She scored two fifth places in the GT Sport class at Mosport, but the rest of her part-season was affected by a string of DNFs and a non-start. She had attempted to make her CTCC debut at Trois-Rivieres in 2016, but was unable to start. Her car is a Porsche 911, which she also used in club racing in 2016. She was more successful there. As well as racing the Porsche, she did some Nissan Micra Cup races in 2016, at Mosport. Lindsay does not have a motorsport background and did not start competing until she was in her mid-twenties.

Stephanie Ruys de Perez – raced saloons in Canada in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1972, she was fourteenth in the Sanair Trans-Am race, in a Mini Cooper. She is best known for racing for the Comstock team, one of the first commercially sponsored racing teams. She also raced a Sunbeam Imp in 1966. Among her other cars was a Chevrolet Camaro. More detailed information about her career is not forthcoming, although she was quite famous at the time, appearing on TV adverts.

Ashley Sahakian - raced in the Canadian Touring Car Championship in 2017. This was her rookie year in the series. She drove a Ford Mustang and was fourth in the GT Sport class, two places below her team-mate and brother, Chris Sahakian. Ashley’s best finish was third, at Mirabel. Prior to the CTCC, she did part-seasons in the Nissan Micra Cup in 2015 and 2016. She was not among the front-runners but did improve in her second year. As well as motor racing, she plays football and is a former model.

(Image copyright Getty Images)

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Andrea Robertson


Andrea (left) with her Robertson Racing team-mates at Le Mans in 2011

Andrea Robertson is an American driver who raced at the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2011, driving a Ford GT-R MkVIII. Between 2007 and 2011, she also raced in the American Le Mans Series.

She had been a motorsport fan from a young age and was a regular at her local drag strip, where Shirley Muldowney was among the drivers she watched.

Her career path was based around aviation. She worked as an air traffic controller and met David Robertson, a pilot. They were a couple for many years before they married in 2004.

In 2007, Andrea entered three rounds of the American Le Mans Series in a Robertson Racing Panoz Esperante. Her only finish was a 23rd place at Laguna Seca. Her usual team-mates were her husband David and David Murry. The couple teamed up with Arie Luyendyk Jr for the Sebring 12 Hours but the car’s engine failed after 64 laps.

This was both Robertsons’ first foray into international-level sportscar racing. Andrea had won two local SCCA championships for Ford cars (Spec Racer) between 1999 and 2003, but had never done anything above SCCA level. They ran a team with no official manufacturer assistance. Dick Barbour did provide some help in the early stages.

In 2008, the team went back to Ford power and were now equipped with a GT-R. The car had been developed by Kevin Doran and worked on by the Robertson team themselves. They took on eight rounds. Their best finish was 19th at Detroit, although their finishing record was much improved with only three non-finishes. They were rather down on pace, but improving slowly.

In 2009 and 2010, the same team continued to drive in the ALMS, still in the Ford. 2009 started with their best Sebring run ever. The Robertsons and Murry were fourteenth overall and seventh in class. They were then eleventh at St Petersburg. The Road America race was also a good showing for them; they were 15th and within five laps of the winners. At the end of the season, Andrea did her first overseas race, entering the Okayama round of the Asian Le Mans Series in Japan.

2010 was a slightly shorter season but the team continued to put in solid results. The best of these was a 22nd place in the Sebring 12 Hours.

In 2011, Andrea drove at Le Mans, and was third in the GTE Am class. Andrea and David’s finish was a first for a husband and wife team and proved popular. They were 26th overall.

The team also entered the American Le Mans Series, and was 20th in the GT class after six races.

The Ford GT was retired after the 2011 season. Andrea also retired from driving duties. Between then and 2016, the team ran cars for other drivers in the ALMS and in local championships.

(Image from crash.net)