Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Women Drivers in One-Make Series - Part I

Helen Moore (left) in 2001, with Amanda Stretton, Vicki Butler-Henderson and Louise Goodman

One-make series for saloon cars are a popular starting point for racing careers, as well as attracting enthusiastic and well-funded club racers. Women drivers have competed quite extensively in these championships, especially in Europe, where drivers like Sandra van der Sloot have gone on to greater things.

Perhaps the premier current one-make series in the UK is the Renaultsport Clio Cup. Below is a list of the female entrants on the one-make scene in the UK and Ireland, since the 1980s.

Carolyn Barker - races BMWs in the UK at National level. Her car is an M3 E30. She entered motorsport through Silverstone's driving school in 2003 and was a front-runner in their novice series. She is also a BMW track instructor, in the UK and Germany. In 2009, she took part in one Mazda MX5 race.

Natalie Brookes – raced a Mini in the BARC CNC Heads championship. She has raced all over the UK, including Scotland, for the Celtic Challenge. Her best finish seems to have been a second place. 2016 looks to have been her first season, although she did own and drive in the Mini in 2015. Her 2017 season was spent putting together sponsorship, and doing some racing in a Rage buggy. In 2018, she is racing in Classic Formula Ford. When not actually racing, Natalie is a model and grid girl, as well as working in engineering.

Dawn Boyd – entered motorsport through the Formula Woman female-only initiative, in 2006. She was not in the final twenty, but gained some racing experience in a Caterham 7. Away from Formula Woman, she gravitated towards small saloons, and raced a Ford Fiesta and a Mini in 2006. The Mini was the car she carried on with in 2007, and she spent two years in the Mini Challenge. Her best results were fourth places, including one at Pembrey, in 2008. She was second in the Ladies’ Cup in 2008. After the Mini came a Volkswagen Golf, which she raced in the Golf GTi Championship for the next three seasons, with a best race finish of second. In 2012, she became part of the Ford Fiesta Championship, competing in Class C. Her first year was her better year, and she was 19th overall. In 2014, the Golf was swapped for a Honda Civic, a car with which she got on well. She won seven races in the VTec Challenge, and was the unofficial Production Class winner (as a Challenge, the series has no official final positions). In 2015, she raced the Civic in the VTec Direct Pre03 championship, for non-turbo 2WD saloons. She was a top-ten finisher and had some impressive battles back up the grid, following mishaps. She returned to the series in 2016.

Emma Bruce – races a BMW Mini in Scotland. She has been active since at least 2012, when she was a challenger for the Ladies’ Cup, against her main rival, Steph McMurdo. Steph, Emma and Elaine Marshall raced as an all-female team in the Celtic Speed Scottish Mini Cooper Cup in 2013, and Emma was second in the Ladies’ Cup, behind Elaine Marshall. She was 26th overall, tied in the main standings with Steph McMurdo. In 2014, she only entered a few races, at the beginning and the end of the season, finishing third in the Ladies’ standings and 31st in the overall championship. She does not appear to have raced since then.

Sarah Budby - former karter, now racing in the Ford Fiesta Championship. She was 21st in the championship, in Class C, out of 42 drivers, after completing most of the season. Class C is for ST-spec cars. Her best finish was seventh, at Cadwell Park. Previously, she raced an MG ZR, in the MG Trophy, in 2013. She was fifth in her class and won an award for “most improved driver”. This was her second season in the ZR, although she had to sit out 2012 due to funding issues. In 2011, she drove in the Peter Best Endurance Challenge, and was third overall, despite not finishing the season. In karting, she was the first female driver to win the LKRC Junior Max Championship. She intended to compete in Fiestas again in 2015, but was not able, and she returned to karting in 2016. She raced Superkarts in 2017.

Maria Brown – races Minis in one-make series in the UK. She is one of Britain’s leading female Mini racers, making a return to the circuits in 2015, after eight years out of motorsport, caring for her son. She raced in the Mighty Minis championship, a series in which she previously had race wins, the first female driver to do so. In 2004, she graduated to the Super Mighty Mini division, and even went as far as testing a BTCC car. In 2015, she was racing to raise awareness of cerebral palsy charities, as her son is affected by this. Among her sponsors is the rock band, Iron Maiden. She is planning a comeback to Mini 7 racing in 2018.

Amy Chambers - British driver who was 16th in the 2005 Renault Clio Cup. She was driving for the Mardi Gras Motorsport team. Her best finish was tenth, at Brands Hatch. She now works as a test driver and race instructor.

Hannah Chapman – races a Mini in the Scottish Mini championship. She was the Newcomers’ Champion in the Scottish Mini Cooper Cup. In the main championship, she was 18th, after a somewhat up and down season. In 2015, she was fifth in the overall championship, with a best finish of sixth. She won the Ladies’ trophy from Taeler Shand. The following year, she was tenth, after missing some rounds, and lost her Ladies' title to Taelor Shand, although she had been the stronger driver almost all season. She began racing in the Mini in 2013, with a part-season in the Mini Cooper Cup. She returned in 2017, and was fifth in the main championship again, with two wins. 

Joanne Eason – usually races small saloons in the UK. She began her senior career in 2007, in her mid-twenties, after many years in karting. Between 2008 and 2013, she raced a Ford Fiesta in one-make series, in different classes. In 2012 and 2013, she contested the B Class of the Ford Fiesta Championship, with a best finish of fourteenth, in 2012. She won the Ladies’ award several years in a row. After sitting out 2014, she returned in 2015, with a new challenge: the British Truck Racing Championship. Her truck was a Seddon-Atkinson, and she was racing against her husband, Wayne. Her class results were promising, but a broken leg, following an accident, put her out of contention. She did some more truck racing in 2017, and was thirteenth in the British championship. 

Melanie Healey - between 2002 and 2006, drove in one-make series for Alfa Romeos, SEATs and Renault Clios in the UK. In 2003 and 2004, she came to prominence as one of the few female competitors in the televised SEAT Cupra Championship. Unfortunately, she was not particularly competitive, and could only manage a 15th place. After the SEAT sojourn, she won some shared class awards in Alfas in 2005, in a BRSCC club championship. Her most successful season was probably 2006, in the Clio Cup. She drove for Team Pyro and was thirteenth overall. Her best finish was seventh, at Donington. Although she returned to Clios in 2007, she only managed a part-season. In 2008, she returned to club racing in her Alfa Romeo 33. She won the club championship in 2010.

Sarah Heels – raced Alfa Romeos for many years in the UK, between 2004 and 2012. She drove at least three different cars, all Alfas: a 33, 156 and 147. She was most successful in the 147, in which she won Class C of the Alfashop Alfa Romeo Championship in 2011. She was second in 2010. She is from a racing family who have all raced Alfas at one time. She stopped racing after the 2012 season.

Chloe Hewitt – races in the Mini Challenge in the UK, in the 180 Open class. In 2016, she was fifth in her class, and this gave her fifth in the Rookie standings as well. 2016 was her first season of senior competition, after a few seasons of karting. In 2017, she was fourth in the Open class. She was seventeen years old when she did her first Mini race. Her team name is “Chewitt Racing”, after a brand of sweets in the UK.

Alice Hughes - BRSCC Mighty Mini Champion in 2017, driving for Agouti Motorsport. She won two races outright and finished on the podium on six further occasions. This was her first full season of circuit racing, but her second attempt at Mighty Minis, after a part-season in 2015. In between, she raced a Ford Fiesta in the 750MC Hot Hatch Championship. Previously, from the age of fourteen, she won several national titles in Autograss.

Natasha Hussain - competes in the Dunlop Ford Fiesta Championship. Her first race was in 2012 in the Fiesta Junior Chamionship, at Brands Hatch, and she was eighth and seventh in the last two races of the season. She did a full season in the Junior championship in 2013, and had an eventful year, including a pole position and a disqualification, plus her first podium. At Cadwell Park, she had a spectacular spin in both races, but recovered in the second, to take the finish. She finished the year in the middle of the championship leaderboard. In 2014, she moved up to the senior Fiesta Championship, where the grids are bigger and the racing more demanding. She was 17th overall, again in the mid-table region. In 2015, she did a part-season in the championship. 

Louise Inch – races a Mini in the UK. Between 2008 and 2011, she competed in the Mighty Mini championship, and she won the series outright in 2010, after winning two races. She narrowly avoided being disqualified, after her car was deemed to be two millimetres too low, but she was eventually awarded her title after an appeal. 2010 was only her third season, and she went from accident-prone rookie, to third place, to a win. In 2011, the situation was reversed, with a rival being stripped of his points, giving Louise a chance at the title, but she could not quite make up enough ground, and was second. She made some appearances in a Mini in 2012, but does not appear to have raced much since then.

Dana Freeman – races a Ford Fiesta in the UK. She made her debut in senior motorsport in October 2015, after a teenage karting career. Her first races were at the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch. She competed in the D Class of the Ford Fiesta Championship, and experienced some setbacks in her first races, including a grid penalty for having to use old tyres. She ran as high as ninth in one race, but dropped back. In 2016, she raced in the championship again, and was seventh in class D. She tried out a class C car for two races, which she intended to use in 2017. This was limited to guest appearances in the final round at Donington.

Emma Karwacki – winner of the 2011 BRSCC Alfashop Alfa Romeo Championship. She won seven of her nine races, driving an Alfa Romeo 147. She had been competing in Alfas quite extensively for some years, in a 33, and further back in 2002, an Alfasud, as well as the 147. She was also very successful in 2012, although she did not take part in enough races to challenge for the title. Emma is Canadian, but based in the UK.

Jessica King – races in the Ford Fiesta Championship, in the D class. Her final position on the leaderboard was fifth. 2015 is her second year of car racing; she began in 2014, in the Fiesta Junior Championship. She was fifth overall. After turning 17, she had to move into the senior championship. In 2016, she moved up one position in class D, to fourth, with one class win. Prior to racing her Fiesta, Jessica raced karts from the age of twelve to 16.

Elaine Marshall – races Minis in Scotland. She won the Celtic Speed Scottish Mini Cooper Cup Ladies’ class in 2013. Her overall championship position was 16th. She raced in the Mini Cooper Cup from at least 2011, when she was a strong challenger for the Ladies’ Cup. In 2012, she was still registered for the Newcomers’ Cup, so it is probable that 2011 was her first season. She does not appear to have raced since the end of 2013.

Stephanie McMurdo – races a BMW Mini in Scotland. She is from a family of racers, and began competing herself in 2011. Her first full season in the Celtic Speed Scottish Mini Cooper Cup was in 2012, and she was the fastest lady in the series. A more difficult season followed in 2013, and she missed some of the rounds, as well as recording some non-finishes. This meant that she lost her Ladies’ crown to her team-mate, Elaine Marshall, and was 26th overall. She was racing for the Tynecastle team, as part of a three-woman squad with Marshall and Emma Bruce. In 2014, she was much more consistent in her finishing, and regained her Ladies’ Cup. She was 20th overall. She does not appear to have raced in 2015.

Annabel Meade - British karter and circuit racer who did a part-season in the Renault Clio Cup in 2005. She started her full-sized career with a 2nd overall in the Ford Fiesta Si Championship in Scotland, in 2000. In 2006, she was awarded a sponsored scholarship by Mango Communications, but appears to have struggled to find funding since then. She returned to karting.

Helen Moore - did some saloon racing in the UK in the late 1990s and early 2000s. She won the Ford Fiesta Zetec Ladies' Championship in 1999. She also took part in some Formula Ford races, as part of the BRDC Junior Single Seater Championship. Unfortunately, she has struggled for sponsorship throughout her career, and has not raced at a high level since then.

Sarah Munns - regular in Mini racing in the UK since the 1990s. She won her first championship in 1997: the Mini Se7en Novice Championship. Since then, she has moved through the British Mini racing ranks, competing in the Mini Se7en championship proper, and later, the faster Mini Miglia series. She won her first main-series race in 2001, and was a strong contender for the Miglia crown in the early 2000s. Occasionally, she races other cars, including a Mazda RX-7 in the Toyo Tyres 24 Hour series in 2009. She was fourth in class for Brunswick Automotive. In 2011, she was fourth in the Mini Miglia Championship. In 2012, she switched to sprinting, and won the Tunbridge Wells Motor Club championship. She was runner-up in 2013.

Chloë Noyce – veteran of the VW Fun Cup series, having first raced in it in 2006. Her first team was Random Racing, made up of karting friends. Since 2007 she has been part of Team Tiger, a long-standing Fun Cup entry consisting of Chloë, Ben and Chris Beighton, and Oliver Bryant. The team have been race winners on various occasions, including once at Donington in 2014. In 2015, they raced in the series part-time, although they were sixth in the first race at Silverstone. She stayed with Team Tiger in 2016, and raced in the 25-Hour race again. 

Rachel Owen - Welsh driver who raced in the Mini Challenge between 2004 and 2006, in the Club class. She scored well in this class, but did not really challenge for overall honours. In 2005, she also raced a Caterham as Wales's entry in the Formula Woman Nations Cup, an all-female event. Her finishes were mid-field.

Sarah Parsons - raced in the Mini Challenge in the UK. Her first season was 2007, when she was eighteen years old. She was racing alongside her father, Graham. She was tenth in the Cooper class in her first year, and ninth in 2008. Her 2009 season was disrupted by a crash at Donington, but she was sixth in the championship. The Advent team for which she and Graham had been competing pulled out in 2010, so she moved to the Exelr8 team, and was fifth in the Cooper class, with eight podium finishes. She shared the Exelr8 car with team owner, Justina Williams in 2011. This seems to have been her last season of competition.

Jo Polley (Goldin) – races a Mini. She began in short-oval racing, including Ministox and BRiSCA F2 Stock Cars. She moved into long-circuit racing in 2007, in the Mighty Mini Championship. For her first race, she qualified in fourth. In her first full year, 2008, she earned one pole position, at Mallory Park. She was fourteenth overall. In 2009, she had another season in Mighty Minis, and achieved her first podium finish. She was eighth in the championship at the end of the year. After a break, she returned to the Mighty Mini series in 2013, and she moved into the Mini Challenge in 2014, driving a BMW Mini. She was thirteenth in the Cooper class. In 2015, among some other challenges, she attempted to win an entry to the Rally Aïcha des Gazelles. She spent most of the season in the PowerMaxed Mini Challenge. In 2016, she continued to race her Mini, and also travelled to Spa for the Mini 24 Hours, in which she and her team-mates won their class. She raced in the JCW class of the Mini Challenge in 2017, as part of a three-car Eurotech team. Her best finish was eleventh, at Oulton Park, and she was 27th in the championship.

Jenny Ryan - winner of the 2007 UK Mini Cooper Challenge series. She won four races. It was her second attempt at the British Mini Challenge. Previously, in 2005, she won a Fiat Punto club racing championship in her native Ireland.

Taelor Shand – races a Mini in Scotland, as part of the Celtic Speed Scottish Mini Cooper Cup. 2015 was her first season in the championship, and she only did the last few rounds. She was second in the Ladies’ Cup, behind Hannah Chapman, and tenth in the Newcomers’ Cup. Her final championship position was 26th.  She won the Ladies' title in 2016 from Hannah Chapman, who could not finish the season. In the overall classification, she was 27th, and she was ninth in the Newcomer standings. Hannah retook the Ladies' title in 2017, with Taelor finishing joint 13th in the overall championship. Her best result was fifth. 

Alana Taylor – Scottish driver who races a BMW 121 in the UK. 2016 was her first season of senior car racing, after several years of karting. She was competing in the NSSCC BMW championship in Scotland, with some appearances in the Invitation class of the Kumho BMW Series in the UK as a whole. She is supported currently by the MSA Academy development programme.

Lisa Thackwell - raced a Renault 5 and a Ford Fiesta in Europe between 1989 and 1991. She entered the Fiesta Mixed Cup with her future husband, David Brabham, in 1991. Previously, she competed in the Renault 5 Cup. Her brother is Mike Thackwell, a former F1 driver.

Claire Tippet - raced in the Volkswagen Cup in the UK between 2003 and 2006. Her car was a Mk1 Golf and her best result was a tenth place in 2004. Unfortunately, she was unable to compete much in 2006 due to a lack of sponsorship, so she moved into motorsport administration and race instructing.

Justina Williams - best known as a member of the management team at Exelr8 Motorsport. She co-owns the team with Antony Williams. In 2010, she got behind the wheel herself in the Mini Challenge. She was one of the leading drivers in the Cooper class, with two class wins at Brands Hatch and Thruxton. She was third in class at the end of the year.

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