Thursday, 2 September 2010

Female Rally Drivers After 1950: UK & Ireland, Part I

Lola Grounds (right) and Mary Handley-Page (left)

Because of the large number of post-war female rally drivers from the British Isles, I have had to split this post into two halves. As ever, drivers are arranged alphabetically. Louise Cook now has her own post, as do Jean Denton, Lorna Snow and Eleanor Allard.

Shelagh Aldersmith - British driver and navigator in the 1960s. She usually drove a Mini. In 1961, she drove an MG in the RAC Rally, with Rosemary Seers. They also drove an MG together on the 1962 Monte. One of her first Mini drives was the 1964 RAC Rally, with W West. She also entered the Monte that year, but did not finish. The Mini was her chosen car in 1967 as well: she and Carolyn Tyler entered the Monte Carlo Rally, and she was set to drive in the RAC Rally until it was cancelled. She was usually referred to as “Dr. S Aldersmith”, and has been described as "formidable".

Linda Allen - Scottish driver from Oban. She first competed in the Scottish Championship in a Vauxhall Astra, and campaigned one of these cars in the 2004 and 2005 Scottish championship. She moved on to a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 4 in 2006, winning the Ladies’ award on the Snowman Rally and finishing 21st overall.

Jo Ashfield - one of the Rootes team's female driving squad in the 1950s. She was both navigator and driver, and sat alongside Mary Handley-Page, among others. In 1956, she was one of a team of lady Standard drivers, and drove a Vanguard in the Monte Carlo Rally. Her co-driver was Francoise Clark. The two had previously driven a Ford Zephyr in Monte Carlo in 1955. Jo appears to have been active since at least 1950.

Chrissie Ashford - rallied in the UK in the 1970s, starting as a navigator to her husband, Paul, in around 1973. By 1974, she was driving a Vauxhall Magnum herself. Throughout her career, she favoured Vauxhall cars, including the Magnum, Chevette and Firenza. She entered one RAC Rally, in 1976, driving a Magnum with Tony Gilhome. They do not appear to have finished. In 1978 and 1979, she was the BRTDA British Ladies' Champion. Shortly after, she left rallying for family life and business interests. She died in 2009.

Jayne Auden (Row) - has been rallying in the UK since 2002. She was soon winning class titles in the BTRDA rally series. She started off competing in the North of England, co-driven by her father, but was soon driving all round the UK. She kept using a Peugeot 106 until 2007, when she changed to a Super 1600-spec MG ZR part-way through the season. Jayne was a member of the “Babes in the Wood” rally team in 2006, alongside Amanda Cornforth and Shelly Taunt. They were tenth in the BTRDA team standings. She continued to drive the ZR through 2008 and 2009, usually in BTRDA rallies, picking up class and club championships. Co-driven by Dave Auden once more, she rallied the ZR in BTRDA rallies in 2010 and 2011. It was still going strong for the 2012 season. She competed in all eight BTRDA rounds, and was ninth in the 1400cc championship. She was also third in the MGZR class, and won the ladies' prize. Continuing with the ZR, Jayne carried on rallying in 2013, mainly in BTRDA events. Her best finish was fourteenth on the Wales Rally GB National event. In 2014, she drove the ZR in an extensive programme of BTRDA rallies, plus the Wales Rally GB National event, in which she was 39th, and second in class. This was her strongest finish of the year. Her 2015 schedule was very similar, including a run in the National event of the Wales Rally GB. Her best result came from a one-off drive in a Mitsubishi Lancer, with former team-mate, Amanda Cornforth, co-driving. She was 22nd overall in the Phoenix Stages. In 2016, she contested the Welsh Forest championship, switching between the Lancer, and the ZR. Her best result probably came in the MG, when she was 46th in the Wales Rally GB National event, and second in her class. She returned to rallying in 2018 as a co-driver.

Holly Bailey - British rally driver who competed in the BRC Stars of the Future junior rally series for two seasons, in 2005 and 2006. The sponsor for her Renault Clio and MG ZR was tights manufacturer Pretty Polly. As well as rally driving, she has co-driven in club rallies, and participated in many sprints and autotest events. Early in her career, she used her own road-going Nova. More recently, she has been involved in promotional road rallies for electric cars, alongside various celebrities. She has also done some navigating. After a long break, she returned to the stages in 2013, for a charity rally for Help For Heroes, but did not finish. Her car was her old ZR. She co-drove for John Taylor in 2014, and Ian Rix in 2015.

Francine (Frankie) Bogg - One of the youngest-ever participants (at the time) in the RAC Rally, aged 19, in 1991. Her final position was 68th. She also drove her Vauxhall Nova in the British Championship, in 1992. Her start in motorsport came from winning the Radio Times Rallyquest competition. The RAC Rally seat was her prize-drive.

Glenda Boyle - winner of the 2005 "Women in the Hotseat" Rally Challenge. She rallied a Peugeot 106 around the UK and Ireland in 2006 as her prize-drive . Part of her competition programme was the “Stars of the Future” class of the British Championship. She did some Irish rallies in 2007 with the Peugeot. In 2008, she drove a Honda Civic and appears to have entered more Irish events, including International rallies. She made a stronger return to Irish rallying in 2009 and 2010, driving the Civic with Kylie Boyle. In 2011, they were 30th in the Circuit of Ireland. She entered the Irish Tarmac Championship in 2012, and was 24th in the Donegal International Rally. She did at least some Irish rallies in 2013, including the Donegal Rally, in the Civic. She entered the Donegal Rally again in 2017, in the Civic, but did not finish.

Nicola Brown - beginner rally driver in the MG Scholarship series in 2004. She entered several BRC and National-level rallies, usually managing to finish. She did not compete again for many years, but made a small comeback in 2017. She drove a Peugeot 205 on the Somerset Stages, and was 55th overall.

Faye Campey - drove a Peugeot 106 in the 2002 World Cup Rally. Since then, she has driven and navigated in endurance rallies in the UK, such as the Lombard Rally. Usually, she acts as a navigator, rather than driving herself.

Caroline Carslaw - Scottish driver who has been competing since 2012. Her first car was a Ford Fiesta, which she continues to rally, and she drove in two tarmac events in Scotland during her first season. In 2013, she competed in the full Scottish championship, with a best finish of  40th in the GWF Energy Merrick Stages. Her main highlights were class wins in the Border Counties and Speyside Rallies, which led to her championship title in Class 7. She was also Scottish Ladies’ Champion. In 2014, she drove in the British and Scottish championships. Her best finish was fifth in the British Rally Challenge section of the Pirelli Richard Burns Foundation Rally. In 2015, she mainly competed in Scotland, although she did come down to Cumbria for the Malcolm Wilson Rally, and Wales, for Rally GB. She managed a class win in the Speyside Stages, and was 43rd overall. In 2016, she mostly rallied the Fiesta in Scotland, although she did try out a Subaru Impreza for the Kingdom Stages. She won the Class 7 Scottish title. She rallied in the Impreza in 2017. Her best result was a 36th place in the Riponian Stages. Her car for 2018 was a Ford Fiesta R2 and she mostly competed in Scotland.

Miranda Clegg - drove a Ford Ka in a couple of British Championship rallies in 2002. She drove in the Pirelli Rally with Julie Cole, coming 19th in the one-make section.

Rose-Anne Clinton - rallied in the UK in the 1970s. Details of her career are sketchy, but she entered the 1976 RAC Rally in an Opel Ascona with Sven Kolkin. They do not appear to have finished. Later, she was a competitor in the Faberge Fiesta Challenge for women drivers, navigated by Maggie Greenland. She was not among the event winners. She has now died.

Sally Cooper - rallied in Europe in the early 1960s. She drove a Sunbeam in the 1961 RAC Rally, with a “Miss P Block”, adnd does not appear to have finished. In 1962, she entered the Monte Carlo Rally with Rosemary Smith, who was appearing in her first international event. Her car was a Sunbeam again. She may well have competed in other rallies, and possibly did some navigation as well.

Amanda Cornforth (Smith) - British driver who began her rally career in 2006, usually in a Ford Ka. Along with Jayne Auden and Shelly Taunt, she was part of the “Babes in the Wood” rally team. She finished the season 56th in the MSA English Rally Championship. For 2007, the team went their separate ways, although Amanda co-drove for Jayne Auden on a couple of rallies. She was very competitive in the BTRDA 1400cc championship and was often in the top three. In 2008 she tackled the British Rally Championship and continued to develop her career as a motorsport PR and sports writer. In 2009 and 2010, she entered some club rallies with her father, Derek, driving the Ka. In 2012, she returned to the stages for some BTRDA rallies, including the Trackrod clubmans' event. In 2013, she drove in three BTRDA events, finishing two of them (the Trackrod Rally and Dukeries Rally) in 51st place. She drove the Ka in a series of British rallies in 2014, usually on forest stages. Her best result was a 34th place, on the Malton Forest Rally. She was second in class. In 2015, she rallied the trusty Ka again in events in northern England and Scotland, including the Jim Clark Reivers Rally. Her best finish was 23rd, in the Riponian Stages. Mid-season, she teamed up with Jayne Auden again, as her navigator, for the Phoenix Stages. She stuck to selected northern events again 2016, in the Ka, with her father as co-driver once more. Her best finish was 51st, in the Trackrod Rally. She did one rally in 2017: the Riponian Stages.

Amy Cox - competes in Northern Ireland and Eire. Her most recent car is a Skoda Fabia S2000, in which she has scored three top-ten finishes in the past three years, the best of them being seventh in the Turkey Run Stages and Tour of the Sperrins. She previously rallied Ford Escorts and earned her first top-ten in the 2011 Ulster National Rally, finishing sixth. Her favoured surface is asphalt.

Liz Crellin - perhaps best-known as a navigator, who sat beside Pat Moss-Carlsson in her later career. Earlier, Liz was a driver in her own right, and won the BTRDA Silver Star driver's championship in 1968 and 1969. Driving a Mini Cooper S, she won the Ladies' Cup on the 1970 RAC Rally. Again, with Pat Wright, in a Mini, she took part in the 1971 RAC Rally, but did not fare as well. After that, she returned to the co-driver's seat in international events, sitting alongside Eeva Heinonen, among others.

Jean Crossley - rallied in Europe in the mid to late 1960s. In 1965, she entered an MG 1100 in the Tulip and Monte Carlo rallies. She did not finish either of them, and went over the time limit in the Tulip event. She followed the same schedule in 1966, with the same car. This time, she managed to finish the RAC Rally, in 63rd place. Her co-driver was Henry Dodd. She does not appear to have finished the Tulip Rally. Margaret Lowrey-Mackenzie was on the maps this time. In 1967, she made another attempt on both rallies, and seems to have finished both. She was 61st in the Tulip Rally, and 119th in the RAC Rally. This looks to have been her last season of international rallying.

Jenny Davies - competed in the UK in the late 1990s. She was a works Proton driver in the British Championship in 1998 and 1999. In 1996, she drove a Class A Peugeot 306 in the Mintex National Championship, scoring one third place in class. She was less active the following year, entering the Peugeot for a few Mintex rounds. Her first season in the British championship with Proton resulted in one third place in class. Her 1999 results have proved difficult to find.

Lyn Dimelow - 1995 ANWCC Rally champion. She drove a Peugeot 205 in the 1996 Mintex National Rally Championship, winning Class B11 and finishing eighth in Class B and 45th overall.

Aisling Dooris - Irish driver competed in the Irish and British championships between 2000 and 2004. Between 2000 and 2002, she usually drove a Suzuki Swift. She won several Coupes des Dames in both the UK and Ireland, as well as awards for Class A5, and was fairly competitive in the Irish Tarmac Championship. More recently, she has been involved in the administration side of rallying.

Janie Eaton - at the time, the youngest ever finisher in the 1995 RAC rally, aged 18, driving a Ford Escort Cosworth. She entered the RAC event again in 1997, driving a Ford Ka this time. As well as her RAC exploits, she took part in some British BTRDA Championship rallies in a Vauxhall Nova. Since 1997, she has competed on and off at club level in stage rallies and rallysprints, often for Chelmsford Motor Club.

Melanie Fitzgerald-Smith - Irish driver who sometimes drove an ex-works Hillman Imp. She used this car on the 1969 Scottish Rally. Later, in 1971, she entered the RAC Rally, again, driving a Hillman Imp. It is likely that she competed in Ireland more extensively, and she is recorded as entering a rally in Galway in 1975, driving a Hillman Avenger.

Tonya Fortune – Irish driver competing in the Irish National championship. She began her career in 2013, in junior rallying. Her first car was a Vauxhall Corsa, and her best result was a fourteenth place in the Junior section of the Raven’s Rock Rally. After one senior rally in the Corsa, in 2014, it was changed in for a Honda Civic, which she continued to rally in 2015. Although her overall finishes were modest, Tonya managed a class win on the Tipperary Stonethrowers Stages Rally, and was 66th overall. She was 31st in the championship, after taking some gambles with rallies held the other side of Ireland to her home. In 2015, she contested the Irish National championship again, in the Civic, and scored three class seconds. Her best overall result was a 63rd place in the Skibbereen Rally, which was one of her runner-up spots. As well as rallies, she has also competed in hillclimbs in Ireland, in her rally car. In 2016, she rallied the Civic in Ireland again. Her best finish was a class win in the Volkswagen Wexford Stages. She was 50th overall. She did some more Irish rallies in 2017, and managed a 27th place in the Carlow Stages. 

Daphne Freeman - driver and co-driver, mostly in the 1960s. One of her earliest outings was the 1959 Monte Carlo Rally, navigating for Mary Handley-Page in a Sunbeam Rapier. Later that year, she co-drove Pauline Mayman’s Morgan on the RAC Rally. In 1961, she navigated for Mary Handley-Page and Pauline Mayman again on the Monte, in another Sunbeam Rapier. The following year, she drove an Austin in the RAC Rally, with Elizabeth Jones on the maps. In 1963, she was back navigating, for Valerie Pirie this time, in a Ford Cortina, on the RAC. She also did some circuit racing and partnered Jean Aley in a Mini in the 1962 Nürburgring 500km. They did not finish.

Debbie Garlick - campaigned a Vauxhall Astra and a Peugeot 205/106 in British rallies, in 1995 and 1996 respectively. In 1996, she contested the Mintex National series for the Shropshire Rally School team, scoring points in class N1, the Coupe des Dames and the Junior driver category. She was killed in the 2004 Asian tsunami.

Debbie Gilliver - rallied a Peugeot 205 and a Vauxhall Nova in British rallies in the late 1990s. She entered the 1997 Rally GB in the Nova, but retired on Stage 23. The same car was used in some BTRDA championship rounds in 1998. Debbie’s navigator was usually Linda Craske.

Jane Gunningham - competed to British Championship level, in a Subaru Impreza and a Peugeot 306. She trained at the prestigious John Haugland rally school in Norway, and was highly-regarded by her mentor. Her single WRC entry, in the 1997 RAC Rally, ended in retirement. She had more success in the 1996 British championship, ending the season 19th overall in the 306, after three points finishes. She had also competed in this series in 1995, but did not do as well. In 1997, she switched to a Group N Impreza and managed one good finish in class, on the Ulster Rally.

Pam Haggie - competed in the UK from 1959. For her first season, she used an Austin A40, and drove in club rallies in Cheshire. In 1960, she exchanged this for a Ford Anglia 105e. She was rewarded with tenth in the White Horse Rally and a career-best third in the Mini Miglia Rally, navigated and coached by Don Barrow. Later, still in the Anglia, she entered the RAC Rally with Sheila Taylor. They retired after a collision with a team-mate’s car. After that, her name seems to disappear from the entry lists. She was a hairdresser by trade.

Alexandra Hammersley - competed in France and Europe in the 1950s, often with her daughter, Genevieve, as her navigator. In 1950, she navigated for her husband in the Liège-Rome-Liège Rally. In 1951, they were 40th in the Tour de France, driving a Peugeot 203. In 1952, they were 50th. They entered the 1953 Monte Carlo Rally together, but retired at the start after Genevieve Hammersley was hit by a bicycle. The same year, they were 19th overall in the ADAC-Rallye Travemunde and second in the Paris-St. Raphaël, driving a Lancia Aurelia. In 1951, Alexandra was also sixth in the Bol d’Or endurance race in Paris, driving a Peugeot 1.5. She had used the same car in the Liège-Rome-Liège Rally, driving with Mme. Sigrande.

Gilly Handley - rallied in Britain in the 1990s, usually in a Vauxhall Corsa. She was National Ladies' Rally Champion in 1997 and 1998 and took part in one WRC round, the 1999 Rally GB, coming 52nd. Her career began in 1993, first in historic rallying with her father, then in a modern Metro. She mainly drove in BTRDA rallies, but also took part in some British Championship events from 1995 onwards.

Sue Hedley - competed in National level rallies in the UK, as well as finishing the RAC Rally in 1998. She was national Ladies’ champion in 2001 and 2002, driving a Vauxhall Nova. This was modified to run on LPG for the 2002 season. She was set to be the first person to rally an LPG-powered car in the British Rally Championship, but the deal fell through. She later drove a Vauxhall Astra in British events.

Melissa Heijink - rallied a Skoda Felicia in the UK in 1997. She finished the RAC Rally once, the same year, in 88th place. She and Anna Tait got their chance in Group N Felicias as the winners of Silverstone Rally School’s LadyQuest. Both cars were supported by the Skoda works team. Melissa entered at least two other British rallies in the Mintex championship, including the Panaround Rally. She does not appear to have competed since.

Linzi Henderson - Scottish driver who began in junior rallying in 2012, in a 1000cc Peugeot 107. She was 16, but this was not her first rally experience - she co-drove for her father, Walter Henderson, in at least one event, in 2011. She moved up to senior competition in 2013, at 17, and continued to use the Peugeot. It finished one of the three rallies she drove it in, the Stobart Rail Pendragon Stages. She was 51st. Her best result of 2013 was a seventh place in the Albar Kames Trophy Rally, a single-stage asphalt event. She was driving her father’s Subaru Impreza. For 2014, she acquired an MG ZR, and drove in the Scottish championship, on both tarmac and gravel. Her finishing record was much improved, and she was often the fastest female driver. Her best overall result was 38th, in the GWF Energy Merrick Stages, and she was third in class. She was quite active in the Impreza in 2016, mostly in Scotland. Her best finish was 29th, in the Grampian Stages. 

Octavia Hopwood - rallied a Volkswagen Golf around the UK in 2016, normally competing on tarmac. 2016 seems to have been her first season. Her best outright finish was a 34th place in the SMC Stages, in April. She was ninth in her class. Away from the stages, Octavia works as a wildlife TV presenter, and has been a stunt performer and competitive climber.

Lynda Hughes (Morgan) - UK driver who competed in two Safari Rallies, in 1989 and 1991. She was twelfth on both occasions and she won class A6 in 1989. Her cars were a Nissan March and Daihatsu Charade respectively.

Joan Johns - drove in European rallies in the late 1950s, as main driver and co-driver. She was sixth on the 1956 RAC Rally in an Austin A90 Westminster, and finished the Monte Carlo Rally in the same car, co-driven by Pat Moss. In 1957 and 1958 she co-drove a series of MGs with Nancy Mitchell. They won the Coupe des Dames on the 1957 Liège-Rome-Liège Rally and finished the 1958 Monte Carlo Rally.

Toni Kelly – Irish driver who has finished the Rally of Ireland twice. The first time was in 2007, when she was 66th, with a win in class A7, driving a Honda Civic Type-R with the experienced Gemma Price. The second time was in 2009. She won class A7 again, but was a respectable 21st overall. In between, she rallied the Civic in Northern Ireland, in 2008, with a best finish of eleventh in the Circuit of Ireland International Rally. She crashed out of the Rally of Ireland, and had to take six months out of competition to recover. Her last competitive outing seems to have been in 2011, when she was 69th in the Donegal International Rally, in the Civic, with a class win. Since 2012, Toni has been running her own driving school, and has worked as a TV presenter on Ireland’s RPM motorsport show.

Becky Kirvan - winner of Silverstone Rally School's LadyQuest in 2006. Her prize drive was a series of supported entries in British rallies in an MG ZR, in 2006 and 2007. After a break from competition, which she spent building a car and rental business, she returned in 2010, driving a Nissan Micra. She contested the BTRDA Rally First championship. She won the BTRDA Ladies' Championship, despite destroying her car on her penultimate event. In 2011, she moved up to the BRC Challenge, driving a Ford Fiesta ST, and won its Ladies' award. She also entered, and finished, her first Wales Rally GB, in 39th place. She sat out the 2012 season to look after her new baby. In 2017, she made a small return, finishing 55th in the Trackrod Forest Stages. Her car was a Fiesta.

(Image copyright Robert Grounds)


  1. Hi. Other than Jean Denton and Rosemary Smith, any info' on the other women competitors of the 1968 London-Syndey Marathon? 12 in total - as well as Rosemary and Jean, there were Elsie Gadd, Jenny Brittan, Lucette Pointet, Eileen Westley, Marion Macdonald, Jenny Tudor-Owen, Sheila Kemp, Anthea Castell, Jenny Gates and S. Kay.


  2. Lucette Pointet is on here somewhere!
    I'm trying to update all of my existing content at the moment, but a couple of those names are ones I'm going to chase up in future.

    1. Then there was me, Barbara Brown who went on to marry David Day of Windermere who drove DD19. We won the best foreign entry for the Rally Fluer et Parfum in 1963. We also won the Guild of Lady Driver's Rally that year as well. We had 3 sons before we got divorced. Oddly enough we both ended up in the USA married to Americans a few hundred miles apart. David died 25 November 2012.
      I live in Phoenix, Arizona. Can't drive any more - arthritis took over.

  3. But where is Pat Moss, the first lady to win an international rally - and the toughest of them all, the Liege-Sofia-Liege' in a Healey 3000.

  4. Pat Moss has her own profile page

  5. Hi - I just found your blog. I am Jo Ashfield's granddaughter. She was an ambulance driver during the second world war. I wonder if being allowed to drive ambulances/have more responsibility during the second world war directly led to so many women taking up racing driving, like her, in the 50s? I am trying to get hold of some footage of her, during her time racing in the 50s. So far I have one film of her Zephr at Monte Carlo from Pathe News. Any ideas how I could find any more footage? Any ideas much appreciated! El Ashfield.

  6. Liz Crellin (Barlow) - Liz Crellin and Elizabeth Barlow are not the same person.

    Don Barrow.

  7. In the 1958-1960 era, I navigated for Pam Haggie with a fair amount of success, she used both an Austin A40 and a Ford 105e Anglia. Her best result was a 3rd overall on the famous 1959 Mini Miglia Rally which attracted 120 of the best crews from all over the country. Pam had a hairdressing business in Macclesfield and drove one of the famous Macclesfield Anglia's with great gusto.

  8. Glenda Boyle came 2nd in class in 2010 in the Irish Tarmac Championship and won the ladies award in the 2010 Irish Tarmac Rally Championship. In 2011 came 2nd in class in the Irish Tarmac Championship and again the Ladies award.

  9. We can create Rally Driving experiences and rally driving days at any venue, whether we come to you or at our own rally school near Chichester in West Sussex.

  10. Angela Palfrey won the ladies cup in the RAC International rally in 1956 and went on to win the Silver garter in the same year. The car was a Jensen built A40 Sports with entry number of 32. The car was registered as MAD 23 and was entered in many UK rallies. Does anyone have any film featuring this car please?

    1. Hello Keith,
      Peter Neale here (Eric’s son) - we met many years ago. Could you please contact me on neale_peter - thanks!

  11. Long shot, but does anyone have any information on a Virginia Ruth Farlow née Holland?