Thursday, 9 September 2010

Women in International Sportscar Racing After 1950: Part II

Juliette Slaughter at Le Mans in 1978

Part one of this post can be found here. Andrea Robertson now has her own post, like Yvonne Simon and Sharon Scolari.

Josie von Neumann - raced sportscars, mostly in America, in the 1950s. Some of her early outings were ladies’ races in an MGTD that belonged to her father, John von Neumann. She also raced a Lincoln-Allard and is credited with winning ladies’ races. A little later, she campaigned a Ferrari 500 Mondial, which she drove in SCCA events in 1955. She competed in the Nassau Speed Weeks on more than one occasion. In 1958 and 1959 she drove a Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa Spyder Scaglietti, which was replaced by another TR in 1959. She was fourth in the Avandaro GP and eleventh in the LA Times GP in this car. She was also fourteenth and 16th in the Riverside and Vaca Valley USAC races. After 1959, she disappears from the scene.

Greta Oakes - took part in a number of American sportscar races between 1950 and 1959, including the Sebring 12 Hours, in 1955 and 1959. She usually drove with her then-husband, Sidney. Their car was normally a 3000cc Austin-Healey 100. As a Bahamas resident, Greta also competed in the Nassau Speed Weeks, driving solo. She and Sidney were the organisers of the event. In 1954, she was fifth in the Production race, driving a Triumph TR2. The following year, she used the Austin-Healey for the Locals race, unsuccessfully. After that, she entered the 1956 Ladies’ races, in a Porsche. Her racing career ended after her divorce from Sidney.

Leigh O’Brien - drove a Chevrolet Camaro in major American races in 1994, as part of an all-female O’Brien Racing team. She was 47th in the Daytona 24 Hours with Kat Teasdale, Tami Rae Busby, Linda Pobst and Margy Eatwell, and 42nd in the Sebring 12 Hours, with Linda Pobst and Kat Teasdale. Previously, she was named as a driver for Anthony Puleo in the 1993 Daytona 24 Hours, but did not make the start. This was despite finishing 16th in a Camaro in the Daytona tests.

Bianca Maria Piazza – raced a series of Ferraris in Italy in the 1950s. She drove a Ferrari 250 MM in 1953 and was 7th in the 12 Hours of Pescara with her husband, Mario. The Mille Miglia resulted in a DNF. Bianca, driving the 250 MM herself, was tenth in the Supercortemaggiore Grand Prix, but suffered an accident in the Monza Grand Prix. The couple had raced a different car, a 195 Inter, the year before. They were 16th in the Pescara race and 83rd, fourth in class, in the Mille Miglia. Driving solo, Bianca was third in the Coppa Europa. In 1954, she and Mario were 42nd in the Mille Miglia, still driving the 250 MM. They were sixth in their class. In a 166 MM, they were eleventh in the Messina 10 Hour race.

Linda Pobst - raced in Grand-Am, including the 1994 Daytona 24 Hours and 12 Hours of Sebring, driving a Chevrolet Camaro with Leigh O'Brien, Margy Eatwell, Tammy Rae Busby and Kat Teasdale. They were 47th at Daytona and 42nd at Sebring. The car was prepared by the O’Brien team. She has also taken part in many SCCA and Trans-Am events since 2000. More recently, she has driven the CART pace car and worked as a racing instructor. She began her motorsport career in autocross, shortly after her marriage.

Ingeborg Polensky - German driver of the 1950s who is best-known as Gilberte Thirion’s co-driver, in both rallies and races. They drove together from 1952 onwards, using Gilberte’s Porsche 356 and Ingeborg’s own Porsche, on occasion. They were fifth in the 1954 Tour de France together, and achieved the same result in the Tour of Belgium. Their last drive together resulted in an eleventh place on the 1956 Tour de France.

Luisa Pozzoli - Italian racer of the 1950s and early 1960s, who was a contemporary and rival to Maria Teresa de Filippis. Driving a Fiat 1100, she is listed as a finisher in the 1955 Mille Miglia, having failed to finish the year before. In 1957, she was third in the Trofeo Vigorelli Monza, driving a Fiat-Abarth Zagato. In 1959, she drove another Italian car, an Osca S750, in hillclimbs, and to sixth place in the Shell Vallelunga Grand Prix. For a change, she drove an NSU Prinz in 1960, finishing 26th in the Coppa Ascari, with Anna Maria Peduzzi. Returning to Italian power, she was fifth in the Coppa Carri in a Fiat 1100. She was still driving the Osca in 1961, where she proved she had not lost her touch by coming third in the Coppa Sant Ambroeus.

Anna Rathe – Norwegian driver who races a KTM X-Bow in the GT4 European Series, for Reiter Engineering. Despite being involved with karting for many years, she only started racing in 2013, when she was 32. In 2013 and 2014, she raced a Nissan GT-R in the Norwegian GT championship, and was third overall in 2014. In 2016, her best GT4 result was tenth, at Spa, with co-driver Cedric Freiburghaus. Individually, Anna was 30th in the championship. She has also raced an Audi R8 LMS Ultra in the International GT Open Series, finishing eleventh at Spa. In 2017, she joined the Reiter all-female team for the Dubai 24 Hours, driving a KTM X-Bow. She was 16th in class. Away from the circuits, Anna is a vet.

Lise Renaud - Belgian race and rally competitor of the 1950s and 1960s. She was often co-driver to Gilberte Thirion, sharing a Renault Dauphine for the Gilberte's 1956 Tour of Belgium class win. Prior to this, she had co-driven Madeleine Pochon to a Coupe des Dames and seventh place on the Monte Carlo Rally, in 1954. As well as co-driving, Lise occasionally competed in hillclimbs and more often, road races. She is listed as a driver in the 1957 Mille Miglia, sharing a Citroen DS19 with Regine Gordine.

Martine Renier - entered Le Mans twice, in 1974 and 1976, driving a Porsche both times. She was thirteenth in 1974, driving with Anny-Charlotte Verney and Pierre Mauroy. Her second attempt gave her an 18th place, fourth in class, with Thierry Perrier and Guy de Saint-Pierre. In 1974 and 1975, she piloted an Alfa Romeo on the Tour de France. Earlier in her career, she had won the Coupe des Dames on the Tour, driving an Alpine in 1971. In between, co-drove on the 1973 Monte Carlo Rally for Jean-Claude Lagniez. She also competed in early runnings of the Paris-Dakar rally, as a motorcyclist and driver. She rode a Moto Guzzi in 1979, co-drove the following year in a Range Rover, and drove a VW-engined buggy in 1983.

Marianne Rollo (Windridge) - raced in the USA in the 1960s. She and Denise McCluggage entered the 1960 Sebring 12 Hours together in an Osca S750, but failed to finish. They returned to Sebring in 1967, this time driving a Ferrari 275 GTS/4, and were 17th, second in class and the only Ferrari finishers. Marianne drove in many SCCA events in the late 1950s and early ‘60s and managed to win several, including a Marlboro six-hour race in 1963. She drove a selection of American, Italian and British cars, including Corvettes, MGs, a Triumph Spitfire and a Jaguar.

Melanie Snow - has raced on and off in the ALMS since 1999, having raced Porsches in the USA since 1997. In her first ALMS season, she won the GT3 class at Sebring, driving a Porsche. Ten years later, she made a comeback with a Porsche 997 GT3. Her team-mate was her husband, Martin. They won the Challenge class outright, after three class wins at Salt Lake City, Road Atlanta and Mid-Ohio. A further two starts did not lead to finishes. Later, in 2011, she returned once more, forming an all-female team with Andrea Robertson. They drove a Ford GT at Mid-Ohio, finishing 14th. Melanie stayed with Robertson Racing for two more races, but spent most of the year driving in the IMSA GT3 Challenge for her own team, in a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. She was sixth overall, with two fifths as her best results. Snow Racing also made an appearance in the Canadian Porsche Carrera Cup, but did not do as well. Driving for another team, Melanie also raced a 997 in the international Porsche Supercup, but was not among the leaders. Snow Racing was active in SCCA events throughout 2012, with Melanie driving alongside her sons Madison and McKay, a first in US motorsport. In 2013, they took their family team to the Daytona 24 Hours, driving a Porsche 997 with Sascha Maassen, Marco Seefried and Klaus Bachler. They were 19th overall.

Annie Spiers – raced sportscars in Europe in the 1950s, with her husband Jacques. Their MGA finished the Tour de France in 34th, in 1956. They tackled the Mille Miglia in 1957, coming 153rd and tenth in class. In 1960, Annie reappeared as navigator to Annie Soisbault in her Triumph TR3. They entered at least the Alpine Rally together.

Anita Tóth - competed in the Maserati Trofeo in 2011 and 2012. She was 34th in the 2011 championship, with one points finish. In 2012, she only drove in five rounds, and was not placed in the final standings. That year, she also took part in four rounds of the Lotus Ladies’ Cup, based in Hungary, her home nation. In 2013, she drove a Honda Civic in the Central European Endurance championship. In 2014, she raced the Civic in touring car events in Central Europe, with a best finish of tenth, at the Hungaroring. Back in the Civic in 2015, she entered the Eset TWC Touring Car Cup, and was more competitive. Her best result was third, at the Slovakiaring, and she was usually one of the top five finishers. In 2016, she raced the Clio in the EWC Touring Car Cup again, and was a regular top-ten finisher in a large field. Her best finish was fourth. Away from actual competition, she is a motorsport journalist for a Hungarian newspaper, and writes extensively about the Dakar. She also works in an organisational capacity for rally raid events, and as a press officer for the WTCC. 

(Image copyright Steve Burton)

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