Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Female Drivers in One-Make Series: Switzerland

Jasmin Preisig (third left) with her Scirocco-R Cup rivals, Doreen Seidel, Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky and Lucile Cypriano

Sabine (Yerly) Amweg - drove in the Swiss Renault Clio Cup in 2008, and the European Clio Cup in 2009 and 2010. She was tenth in 2008 and eighth in 2009, with a best finish of fifth. Her 2010 results are not forthcoming. Prior to the Clio Cup, Sabine has been active in motorsport since at least 2001, when she used a Mazda MX-5 Cup car in hillclimbs. The same car was used in 2002. She still competes occasionally in hillclimbs, in the Clio. In 2011, she drove a Clio in the Renault Sport Speed Trophy of the VLN in Germany, with Christof Stadler and Fred Yerly. 

Petra Beyrer (Gasser) - Swiss driver and former bodybuilder who took part in long-distance touring car races in Germany in 2006. Her team-mate was Nicole Mullenmeister and they drove a Honda Civic. They were 80th in the Nurburgring 24 Hours, seventh in class. She was due to be part of a team in the VLN championship at the Nürburgring in 2007, but had to pull out. Previously, she raced in the Toyota Yaris Cup for three years, after several seasons of karting. Her best Yaris Cup finish was 20th, in 2005, and she was fourth in the Coupe des Dames. She planned a comeback in 2008, but it did not happen. She aims to return to motorsport at some point. 

Luana Krattiger - half-Brazilian, former karter who had her first senior motorsport experience in 2013. She raced in the Renault Clio Cup in Italy, and won the Junior and Ladies categories. She was quite competitive from the beginning, and usually in sixth or seventh place. Her best result was third, in the last race of the season, at Imola. She was sixth overall. Away from the circuits, she was the navigator in the course car for the Rally Ronde del Ticino, in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX. The driver was Andreas Krattiger. Although she was linked with a drive in the 2014 Clio championship, it did not happen, and she does not appear to have raced in 2014.

Jasmin Preisig - began her senior career in 2013, in the Opel Astra OPC Cup in Germany. Her most noteworthy result was a sixth place in the 6-Hour race that was part of that series. She also competed in hillclimbs, in a KTM X-Bow. At the beginning of 2014, she was one of a small number of drivers selected for a scholarship drive in the Volkswagen Scirocco-R Cup. It was a difficult learning year for her, abut her results did improve, and her best so far is an eleventh place, at the Nürburgring. At the time of writing, she is 16th in the championship.

(Image from http://www.volkswagen-motorsport.com/index.php?id=506&L=1)

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Women Drivers in the DTM: the "Masters" years

Susie Wolff (then Stoddart) and Vanina Ickx

The DTM was revived in 2000, after its earlier incarnation folded, as the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters. It was now a silhouette series, with cars based on production models. 
The new DTM attracted strong driving talent, and in recent years, it has become a favoured championship for teamless Formula One drivers and World Endurance Championship regulars, with some younger specialists. Female drivers have not done as well as before, and have been less present. This may change in the future.

No championship held

No female entrants

Vanina Ickx - Audi A4 DTM (Futurecom TME) - unplaced
Susie Wolff - AMG Mercedes C-Class  (Mücke Motorsport) - unplaced

Vanina Ickx - Audi A4 DTM (Futurecom TME) - unplaced
Susie Wolff - AMG Mercedes C-Class  (TV Spielfilm AMG Mercedes) - umplaced

Katherine Legge - Audi A4 DTM (Futurecom TME) - unplaced
Susie Wolff - AMG Mercedes C-Class  (Persson Motorsport) - unplaced

Katherine Legge - Audi A4 DTM (Abt Sportsline) - unplaced
Susie Wolff - AMG Mercedes C-Class  (Persson Motorsport) - unplaced

Susie Wolff - AMG Mercedes C-Class  (Persson Motorsport) - 13th
Katherine Legge - Audi A4 DTM (Team Rosberg) - unplaced

Rahel Frey - Audi A4 DTM (Team Phoenix) - unplaced
Susie Wolff - AMG Mercedes C-Class  (Persson Motorsport) - unplaced

Rahel Frey - Audi A5 DTM (Audi Sport Team Abt) - 19th
Susie Wolff - AMG Mercedes C-Coupe  (Persson Motorsport) - unplaced

No female entrants

(Image from www.motorsport.com)

Women Drivers in the DTM: the "Meisterschaft" years

Race winner, Ellen Lohr, in 1992

The DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft) was (and remains) Germany's top-ranked touring car championship. It began in 1986, evolving from the Group A-based German Production Car Championship. Women drivers featured in it right from the start, with Beate Nodes, and especially Ellen Lohr, achieving success.
As time went on, budgets for the series became very high, as DTM cars only had to be based on production models. In 1996, it was run as an FIA touring car championship, but after that, it was retired in its current form. The new DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) debuted in 2000. 

Beate Nodes - Ford Sierra XR4Ti (Grab Motorsport) - 11th

Beate Nodes - Ford Sierra XR4Ti (Ford/Grab Motorsport) - 21st

Annette Meeuvissen - BMW M3 (Zakspeed/Linder BMW M-Team) - 31st
Mercedes Stermitz - BMW M3 (BMW M-Team Linder) - 37th
Beate Nodes - Ford Sierra XR4Ti (Grab Motorsport) - 42nd
Annette Meeuvissen - BMW M3 (BMW M-Team Linder) - unplaced

Annette Meeuvissen - BMW M3 (BMW M-Team Zakspeed) - unplaced
Ellen Lohr - Mercedes 190 E (AMG) - unplaced

Annette Meeuvissen - BMW M3 (Linder M-Team) - unplaced
Ellen Lohr - Mercedes 190 E (AMG) - 26th 

Ellen Lohr - Mercedes 190 E (AMG) - 11th (1 win)

Ellen Lohr - Mercedes 190 E (AMG) - 10th

Ellen Lohr - Mercedes C-Class (AMG) - 11th

Ellen Lohr - AMG Mercedes C-Class (Zakspeed) - 17th

No championship held - FIA International Touring Car Championship held in its place
Ellen Lohr - AMG Mercedes C-Class (AMG Mercedes Team Persson) - 25th

(Image from http://www.dekra-motorsport.com/en/dtm/extnews/dekra-dtm-news/details/267)

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Hannelore Werner

Hannelore Werner in 1969

Hannelore raced in single-seaters, touring and sportscars in Germany in the 1960s and early 1970s, although her most notable results were achieved in a single-seater. She was born in 1942, and initially trained as a dental technician.
Despite having her own career outside motorsport, she had the advantage of starting her racing whilst still very young. Her first race was in 1960, a saloon race, driving a DKW. During the early part of her career, she often drove DKW models. This seems to have included a one-make trophy for DKW and Auto Union cars, the “Silberschildrennen” at the Nürburgring. Despite crashing during the race, she was fifth overall, in an Auto Union 1000.
Her first big touring car race was the Nürburgring 500km in 1963. Her car was a little DKW Junior, shared with Manfred Roesner. They did not finish. 
The same pairing drove an Auto Union Junior in the 1964 Nürburgring 500km, but again, could not finish. Hannelore, driving a 796cc DKW F11 with a driver called Fischer, was 24th in the Nürburgring 6 Hours.
With Roesner, she tackled both of the big Nürburgring saloon races again in 1965, in DKW cars, They were 23rd in the 500km, in the Junior, and did not finish the 6 Hours, in an F11. That year, Hannelore made her first big overseas racing trip, to the UK, for another round of the European Touring Car Challenge, at Snetterton. Driving the F11 with Wolf-Dieter Mantzel, she was 16th in the 500km race, second in the T850 class for small cars.
Away from the bigger races, and driving solo, she was a regular presence in the German touring car championship of the time, the DTRM. Her usual finishing spot, in 1965, was second in the class for 700-850cc cars, in the F11.
In 1966, she switched over to single-seater racing, in Formula Vee 1300. She made an impression immediately, in Germany at least. In 1967, she was part of Caltex’s “Coupe de Charme” for female Formula Vee drivers, but missed out to Jenny Birrell. The same year, she drove in the German Grand Prix support race for Formula Vee, at the Nürburgring. She was driving for IGFA Racing, but she, and her three team-mates, got caught up in an accident.
Saloon racing had not been forgotten: Hannelore teamed up with Wilfried Oetelshoven for the Nürburgring 6 Hours in 1966, driving an F11. They did not finish.
Also in 1967, she was recruited by the new Mahag Olympic Formula Vee team. She won at least one race that year, at Zolder. She stayed with the team for two seasons, and remained competitive. She was largely feared and respected by her male opponents, as well as her female rivals in the Coupe de Charme. She travelled around Europe in order to race, and also went over to the USA, to take part in a Formula Vee race at Daytona, with Jenny Birrell and other Coupe de Charme regulars. In Germany, she raced in a second German Grand Prix support race, at the Nürburgring. However, she was a disappointing twelfth.
Making up for this, she won the 1969 equivalent of the Nürburgring 24 Hours with Rüdiger Faltz. This event was run more like a long-distance trial, in that period, but she won it nevertheless, in a BMW 2002 Ti, run by the Alpina team. This was one of a few races she did for the BMW Alpina team that year, although she did not finish the Spa 24 Hours or the Nürburgring 6 Hours.
The year before, in 1968, she had had her first taste of sportscar racing, driving a Porsche 911 in the Spa 1000km. She and Willy Zanders were 15th overall. This was not something she pursued much further.
Her association with BMW carried through to other areas of motorsport, too. In 1970, she drove a BMW 2002 Ti in the Monte Carlo Rally, and was 31st, with Oda Dencker-Andersen as navigator. They joined forces again in 1971, in a similar car, and were 17th.
During 1970, Hannelore really started to expand her motorsport horizons. As well as her BMW rallying adventures, she was picked up by Ford of Germany for long-distance touring car races, in a Capri. Dieter Glemser was one of her team-mates, although they drove sister cars, rather than together. Although the Nürburgring 1000km and Grand Prix support races, as well as the Salzburg ETCC race, ended in DNFs, she was a strong second in the Monza 4 Hours, driving with Manfred Mohr. Her usual team-mate was Yvette Fontaine.
At about the same time, Hannelore picked up some significant sponsorship from the Eifelland caravan company, whose directors were keen to support her in taking her single-seater career further. Her first big single-seater event was a round of the French Formula 3 championship, at Magny-Cours, in July. She drove a March 703, and did not finish. The 703 was swapped for a 702 shortly afterwards. This car was used in the Mantorp Park F2 Trophy, in Sweden, and the Preis von Baden-Württemburg und Hessen. Hannelore did not finish either of those races in the classification, either. However, at the start of August, Eifelland entered her into the Nürburgring Grand Prix support race, and she was a fine second, defeated only by the 702 of Xavier Perrot. The car was not the most competitive on most circuits, but it obviously worked here.
In 1971, the team continued with March machinery for Hannelore, competing mainly in Formula Two, although team-mate Rolf Stommelen had a stronger Brabham BT30. Her first race of the year was a long-haul trip to Colombia, for the Bogotá Grand Prix. The race, in two parts, was won by Stommelen. Hannelore was not classified in her 702. In her new 712M, it was a similar story at the Speed International Trophy at Mallory Park, although Rolf Stommelen was otherwise occupied. She finished the Jim Clark Memorial Trophy, at Hockenheim, in eleventh, just behind team-mate Hermann Unold. The ADAC-Eifelrennen gave her a fifteenth place.
She did not qualify in Madrid, the fourth round of the European F2 championship, but was then ninth in the Lotteria di Monza Grand Prix, having qualified as part of the Formula 5000 class. This was followed by a DNQ at Rouen-les-Essarts, and a DNF at Imola. A second attempt at the Mantorp Trophy gave her a twelfth place, but a second go at the Preis von Baden-Württemburg led to a disqualification, after she cut a chicane. The Crystal Palace Spring Bank Holiday F2 race, in May, had seen Hannelore collide with a stationary Graham Hill. He was not seriously hurt, but it was rather embarrassing publicity for Hannelore.
Away from Formula Two, a guest spot in the Shell Super Oil British Formula Three championship, at Silverstone, ended in engine failure. Her car was a March 713S. She tried to qualify for the Paul Ricard, Mallory Park and Brands Hatch rounds, but could not manage it. Touring cars had been put to one side for the time being. All in all, it was rather an up-and-and-down year, with much experience gained, but a lot of frustration.
Judging by the entry lists, Hannelore expected to have another full season in European Formula Two, driving both a March and a Brabham BT38, but she did not end up taking her place in most of her predicted events. The only significant F2 race she actually drove in, was the Rhein-Pokalrennen at Hockenheim. She was thirteenth, in the Eifelland team’s own car, based on a March 722. A similar car, based on the 721, was raced by Rolf Stommelen in Formula One that year, without great success. The team was apparently set up to allow Stommelen to compete in Formula One, but there is a hint of an interesting “what if?” story here.
Hannelore married Günther Hennerici, one of the owners of Eifelland, about then, and retired from active motorsport competition, in order to start a family. After her three children were born, she pursued business interests of her own, including a guesthouse.
(Image from http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hannelore_Werner)

Monday, 18 August 2014

Female Drivers in One-Make Series: Germany

Cora Schumacher

Margit Abt - competed in at least one season of the Fiesta Mixed Cup in Germany, in 1991. She was racing with her husband, Hans-Jürgen Abt. Margit was seventh in the women’s standings at the end of the season, with the pair scoring a few top ten finishes. In 2005, she returned to the track for two guest appearances in the Seat Leon Supercopa, at Hockenheim. 

Brigitte (Biggi) Briel - a regular in German one-make racing in the 1980s. She began racing in the Ford Fiesta Ladies’ Cup in 1982, and teamed up with two other “Fiesta Ladies” for the Nürburgring 24 Hours that summer. She was 51st in the Fiesta, with Anette Gottwald and Barbara Schmitz. Brigitte returned to the Ladies’ Cup, and was eighth in 1984 and seventh in 1985. After the Fiesta Cup, she moved into the Renault 5 Cup, still in Germany. She did two seasons in the Renault, in 1986 and 1987, as the only female driver in the series. She was not among the front-runners. In 1988, she raced in the VLN, in a Group N-spec Ford Sierra Cosworth. She scored two group wins.

Claudia Ostlender - winner of the 1983 Ford Fiesta Ladies’ Cup in Germany, in her first year of motorsport. She did two more seasons in the Cup but did not repeat her win. In 1986, she moved over to the Volkswagen Polo Cup, doing a part-season at first. A similar season followed in 1987, but in 1988, she really found some speed and won her first Polo race, at Zolder. She was fifth overall. Some time before 1989, when she retired from motor racing, she won her class three times in VLN races at the Nürburgring. Her cars were a Volkswagen Golf GTi and a Ford Escort RS. At some point, she also set a speed record in a Volkswagen Corrado.

Jasmin Rubatto - German driver who raced in the 2000s, mostly in one-make series. She took part in the MINI Challenge in Germany in 2004, and was ninth overall. Her team-mate in the Ich Liebe Es squad was Kati Droste. Apparently, this was a comeback from “maternity leave”, but details of her career prior to this are not forthcoming. In 2009, she also did four races in the SEAT Leon Supercopa, also in Germany. She was driving as one of SEAT’s guest works drivers.  

Cora Schumacher - raced a BMW MINI in her native Germany in 2004 and 2005. Her best finish was eighth, but she was better known for a nasty accident which limited her involvement with the series. This dropped her to 34th in the final points, although her initial speed had surprised some. After that, she signed up for the 2006 Seat Leon Supercopa alongside Christina Surer, but only made two starts. In 2010, she returned to the MINI Challenge, and was 19th, rising to 14th in 2011. In 2012, she drove in the Dubai 24 Hours in a MINI, winning class A2, as well as testing a Chevrolet Camaro GT3 car. For most of the season, she raced in the MINI Trophy, scoring six top-ten finishes, the best being an eighth at the Red Bull Ring. This was good for 15th in the championship. She is married to Ralf Schumacher.

Doreen Seidel - began racing in 2011, in the ADAC Cruze Cup, run at Oschersleben. She shared a Chevrolet Cruze with Nadine-Nicole Frentzen. In 2012, she returned to the Cruze Cup, still with the Buchbinder Rent-A-Car team. This year, she shared the car with Ronny Melkus and Freddie Hunt, and was really quite competitive, with two second places and several thirds. In 2013, she spent a season in the Mini Challenge, or most of it. She was fourteenth overall, but did not race for the whole season. She also undertook some test driving for the Abt Sportsline team, for the ADAC GT Masters. In 2014, she stuck with one-make racing, in the Volkswagen Scirocco-R Cup. At the time of writing, her best result has been eleventh, at the Red Bull Ring. Doreen is a former model.

Marleen Seilheimer - raced in the Volkswagen Polo Cup in 2006 and 2007, in Germany. She was 16th in the championship in 2006, and tenth in 2007. The following year, she drove a Honda Civic for the Honda Junior Team in the VLN, and entered the Nürburgring 24 Hours. Her team-mates were Christian Caron, Jorge Altmann and Daniel Ortmann. They do not appear to have finished. This was Marleen’s last notable competitive outing, but she has stayed involved in motorsport, and works in media relations for the Sauber Formula One team.

(Image from http://www.leblogauto.com/2006/03/schumachre.html)

Friday, 15 August 2014

Female Drivers in Touring Cars: Germany

Yolanda Surer

Saloon racing has been extremely popular in Germany since the 1960s. Throughout its history, female drivers have been a part of it, up to the highest levels, including the DTM.

Heidi Blechinger - raced saloons in Germany in the 1970s. In 1978, she competed in the Trophee l’Avenir with Lili Riesenbichler. They drove an Audi 50 together in the Nurburgring round and did not finish. The rest of the full results of this series are hard to find, but the pair may have entered again at some point. That year, she also took part in her third season of Renault 5 racing. She began her career in slalom events in 1968. She also drove in rallies: she is recorded as a finisher in the 1976 ADAC-Rallye Hanseatic, in a Renault 5.

Astrid Grünfelder (Waldmann) - raced saloons in Germany between 1989 and 2002. Her best year was 1993, in which she won the Deutsche Tourenwagen Cup under-2000cc class, with three victories. She and Sabine Schmitz also scored four class wins at the Nürburgring, in the VLN, driving a BMW M3. Until 1995 she was a member of the BMW Junior team. Her last big result was a second place in a DTC race at Hockenheim in 1995, in another M3. Since then, she has raced an Opel Calibra in Austrian Touring Cars, with one third place, and driven in the VLN with Nicole Luttecke and Tina Grewe, using a Mitsubishi Carisma. Between 2000 and 2002, she took part in the Ford Puma Cup, with a best finish of fourteenth.

Karin Hirschmann - best-known for racing a Simca 1000 in the 1980s and 1990s, despite the car being at least ten years old. In 1983, she competed in the German Racing Cup (DRP), but was not overly competitive. In 1992, when the car was twenty years old, the reappeared in the Special Touring Car Trophy in Germany. Again, she was not really competitive, but was racing against cars that were either much newer, or much more powerful. In between, she did some speed events, in 1990 and 1991. Her best result was thirteenth, at Most, in 1991.

Ulrike Krafft - German driver competing in the ETCC since 2011. She began as a teenager in slaloms in 2005, winning her first title in 2006. Between then and 2009, she tried several different motorsport disciplines, including rallying, settling on the Dacia Logan Cup. In 2010, she moved up to the ADAC Procar series with the ATM Ladies team, driving a Ford Fiesta in Division II. She was fifth in the division, with a best finish of second, at Hockenheim. She held position in 2011, finishing fifth despite a slightly shortened season, with at least two second places. She also made her debut appearance in the ETCC, and was second in class for her race at Salzburg. She was driving the Fiesta. In 2012, she moved into the ETCC full-time, in the S1600 class, driving a different Fiesta. She was third in her class, with a best finish of second, at Monza, plus two third places at Imola and Salzburg. She contested the ETCC again in 2013, and was quite successful, winning her class once at Pergusa, and finishing second on several occasions. Her overall result was third in the Super 1600 class, in the Fiesta. However, she lost her Ladies' crown to Andrina Gugger. 

Inez Muhle - driver from Hamburg  who raced in Europe in the 1970s. She began in Formula Vee sometime in the 1970s, probably 1975, in the 1300cc class, and raced in Germany. Previously, she had driven in hillclimbs and slaloms, in 1974. Later, she came to specialise in one-make series, including the VW Scirocco Cup in 1976. Her best finish was ninth, at Hockenheim, against opponents including Manfred Winkelhock. During this time, and in 1977, she did some racing for the Jagermeister team, in the DRP touring car championship.  Her 1976 car was an Audi 50, and she did well in the under-1150cc class, with a fifth at Zandvoort. In 1977, she drove a VW Polo, and was not quite as effective. 

Stephanie Neitzel - competed in one-make championships and Procar in Germany for most of the 1990s and 2000s. She has multiple Ladies’ titles in the Citroen Saxo and Toyota Yaris Cups, with a seventh place overall in the Saxo Cup in 2001. She was also third in the Speed Women Cup for Germany’s fastest female drivers in 2003, after her achievements in the Yaris Cup in Germany and Australia. She moved to the German Production Championship in 2005, and was eighth in her class, then into ADAC Procar. After a full season in 2006, she was eighth, with one podium finish. She continued in the series in 2007, but only managed two events. After a long lay-off, she returned to competition in 2010, in Procar, still driving a Ford Fiesta, as she always had. She took part in four races, with a best finish of sixth at Assen. 

Lili Reisenbichler - raced in German touring car championships from 1974 to 1983, including touring-based prototypes in sportscar races. She and her team-mates won the Touring class of the 1980 Nürburgring 1000km. Her cars were normally Fords, including a Zakspeed Capri in 1982 and 1983. She drove this car in the German DRM series and European Touring Cars. Despite driving for a prestigious team later in her career, she was more successful earlier on, scoring a third place at Avus in 1980, driving a Fiesta in German touring cars. The same year, she was second in class in the Nurburgring 4 Hours, driving a private Capri. As well as Ford power, she drove Audi, BMW and Renault-Alpine machinery during her career.

Yolanda Surer (now Tavoli; given name also spelled Jolanda) - started in single-seaters in Germany in 1987, getting as far as Formula 3 from 1990 to 1992. Her best finish was a third at Hockenheim. She moved to touring cars later, racing in German and Italian championships. Her best result was in 1993 when she was seventh in the German Touring Trophy, with a class win at AVUS in her BMW M3, as well as three second and three third places. She was also fourth in the 1996 Spa 24 Hours, in a BMW, for a ladies' team. After taking time out of her career to have children (she became pregnant while racing in the Renault Spider Cup in 1997), she returned in 2004. She drove a Honda S2000 for an all-female team in the Nurburgring 24 Hours.

Vivien Volk - has raced saloons since the age of 18, after several years of karting. She started in the Volkswagen Polo Cup in 2008, and was 23rd overall, but fifth in the rookie standings. She also won an award from her motor club. She returned to the VW Cup in 2009, and was also 23rd, after not completing all of her races. In 2010, she did some VLN races in the Polo earning a fourth and third in class in two of them. Still in the VW, she entered the Hankook Cup and Tourenwagen Trophy in 2011, where she was 16th overall, and second in the under-1600cc class. She returned to the series in 2012, but was unable to enter most of the races due to an engine failure in the first round. She was third at Zolder and second at the Nürburgring. After that season, she took a step back from motorsport to concentrate on her professional career, which is teaching. Although she tried to make a comeback in 2013, she does not appear to have gathered enough sponsorship.

Margitta Wintergerst - long-standing competitor in German motor racing, since the late 1970s. She has raced in the Divinol Cup for many seasons, and was also a regular entrant in the German Special Touring Car Championship. She usually drives cars owned jointly with her husband, Wolfgang, and they are usually Fiats. In the early 1990s, Margitta raced a 3P in Special Touring Cars, and later, in 2007, she used a similar car, a 128 3P, in historic races in Europe. These included the Histo-Cup at the Hungaroring. That year, she also surprised observers by driving a Porsche in the Divinol Cup. Although she is a regular competitor, she is not often among the front-runners. She has been somewhat more successful in hillclimbing, winning some class awards.

Sandra Wollstadt - raced in the German Touring Car Trophy (DTT) in the 1990s. She first appears in  1992, but only makes a serious challenge from 1993, driving a BMW M3 for her family team, Autohaus Wollstadt. Her best results were two ninth places in class, at Zolder and Zandvoort. She improved this to seventh in class in 1994. The following year, in a BMW M3 E30, she returned to the championship, a more competitive driver. She scored three seconds in the 2500cc class, and was twelfth overall. In 1996, she drove a similar car in the same championship, and was fifth overall. She was in the top three for her class for all rounds, apart from Hockenheim.

(Image from http://www.forum-auto.com/sport-auto/formule-1/sujet378778.htm)

Monday, 11 August 2014

Female Drivers in North American Circuit Racing, 1910-1950

Joan LaCosta

Female drivers were banned from competition by the USA’s main motorsport authority, in 1909, but between then and the 1950s, a number of women found ways to race. Many of them competed in speed trials, which were still allowed, and these were often part of fairground “daredevil” exhibitions. The International Motor Competition Association (IMCA) presided over many of these fairground meets, usually run on dirt tracks, and they allowed men and women to race together, as well as putting on women’s races, particularly match races between female drivers. IMCA also promoted motorsport in Canada. Below are profiles of some of these racers. See also The Speederettes for details of an early group of dirt-track racers.

Joan LaCosta - French driver (apparently), mostly noted as a daredevil and speed triallist in the USA in the 1920s. Her usual car seems to have been a Miller special. She was most active in the Florida area, and set many speed records on beaches, at Jacksonville and Daytona. One of her most impressive runs came in at 145 mph, in 1926, at Jacksonville. One of her most newsworthy exploits was a lucky escape from a burning car on Daytona Beach, during a trial run for one of her speed record attempts. At some point, she was crowned “women’s international champion”, and this may have come from a meeting promoted by the International Motor Contest Association, who sometimes put on women’s races, featuring the likes of Elfrieda Mais. Such a championship was held in 1925, at Indianapolis. In 1926, Joan entered a match race, as part of one of their events in Toronto, Canada. She won, beating Louis Disbrow. The two had considerable history, having raced against each other several times. The same year as their Toronto battle, Disbrow apparently led a protest against Joan’s inclusion in a Lakewood starting grid. His objection was overturned, partly because her speed-trial times proved that she was faster than several of the male entrants. In 1928, she won a women’s race in Milwaukee, but this was one of her last triumphs. At the end of the year, she announced her intention to retire and take up flying. This did not happen, although she continued to garner attention due to a conviction for robbery, after she lost “all of her money” at the races. Joan LaCosta was almost certainly not her birth name.

Elfrieda Mais (also spelt Maas and Mazy) - raced in the USA between 1912 and 1934. As women were prohibited from driving in sanctioned events, she mostly did speed trials and demonstration runs, although one source describes her racing a Hudson, against male drivers, at a dirt track in Lima in 1918. Here, she was credited as “Miss Mazy”. At around this time, she set a series of speed records, but as she was not part of the motorsport establishment, these were not official. Increasingly, she turned to stunt driving at fairground dirt tracks, to earn money and satisfy her taste for danger. She was killed in 1932, when one of these went wrong. Having survived driving through a burning wall, her car overturned on a bank.

Marion Martins - French driver who raced in the 1920s in Canada, usually in IMCA events and driving a Frontenac Ford. In 1925, she competed in Edmonton, Calgary and Regina, on the half-mile dirt oval tracks there. At the Edmonton Exhibition, she won a match race against a driver called Al Cotey. At Regina, shortly before, she defeated Elfrieda Mais in a ladies’ match race. As well as various races, usually of very short distance, she took part in speed trials. For at least one of these, at Ottawa, she used a Bugatti. After 1925, she seems to disappear. Marriage records suggest that she and Joan LaCosta could have been the same person, racing under different names. However, they will remain as separate entries until this is more certain.

(Image from https://www.flickr.com/photos/shushmuckle/7002149122/. Originally from the Danville, Virginia newspaper, The Bee.)