Monday, 18 August 2014

Female Drivers in One-Make Series: Germany

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.

Vanessa Lee Engelhardt – raced in the Clio Cup in Germany for at least one season, in 2004. She was driving for the Renault Junior Team. Her final position was 29th, after picking up a few points where she could. That year, she had quite a big accident, but seems to have been unharmed. Towards the end of the season, she was linked with a drive in the 12 Hours of Malaysia in a Porsche 911 GT3, but this does not appear to have happened.

Jutta Fischer - a graduate of the Ford Fiesta Ladies Cup in Germany. She was sixth in the 1985 championship. In 1990, she competed in the Fiesta Mixed Cup, with Thomas Marschall, and won at least one race, at Hockenheim. She returned to the series in 1991, partnering Stefan Pfeiffer, but they were not as successful. Jutta was not in the women’s top ten. Away from Ford one-makes, she also participated in the VLN, and the Nürburgring 24 Hours, with her first race in 1984. She shared a Fiesta with Richard Fischer and Uwe Fischer, but did not finish. In 1990, she drove a Fiesta XR2 with Astrid Hild, Thomas Wirtz and Thomas Marschall. It is unclear whether they finished. She may well have entered other editions of the race, in between those years.

Nadine-Nicole Frentzen - has been trying to put together a motorsport career since 2004, when she took part in a Formula BMW driver selection event  at Valencia. This did not lead to a racing seat. After some other reported testing, she finally got to race in anger in 2011. Partnering Doreen Seidel, she took part in some rounds of the ADAC Chevrolet Cruze Cup in Germany, at Oshersleben. They were not among the front-runners. Nadine-Nicole is the sister of Heinz-Harald Frentzen, and first became known to the public when she was caught driving her mother’s car, on the road, at the age of thirteen.

Victoria Fross - began her racing career in 2012, in a Mini. She did four races in the German Mini Trophy, with a best finish of seventeenth, achieved three times, at Lausitz and Hockenheim. In 2013, she returned to the Mini Trophy, in her car, which she called “Lotte”, and was 16th overall, with a best finish of twelfth. This was recorded at the Sachsenring, and Lausitz. Still in the Mini, she moved up to Division III of the ADAC Procar Series in 2014, driving for the ITC team with Lisa Brunner. She started strongly, with fifth places at the Sachsenring and season’s-best fourths at the Nürburgring, and although she was not quite able to reach the podium, she was still a solid competitor. She was rewarded with sixth place overall. In 2015, she raced in Procar again, in a Mini, and was fifth in the championship. Her best result was third, at Spa. She raced in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Cup (DTC) in 2016, still in a Mini. She was one of the leading drivers in the Production class and was runner-up, with one win and twelve podium finishes. She did some races in the STT in 2017, and had a new car for 2018. In 2019, she raced in the STT again, driving an Opel Astra. This time, after a close battle, she won the STT title for the first time, a first for a female drivers. 

Nina Haller – raced in the Mini Challenge in Germany, in 2007. She was 42nd in the championship, after a part-season, and second in the Ladies’ class, behind Katharina König. This was her second season in the series, and the first went very similarly to the second. After 2007, she appears to have retired from racing, but remained involved in motorsport as a press officer for the Gigamot team, who competed in the Mini Challenge with Steffi Halm, among others.

Astrid Hild - appears to have begun her career in 1985, in the Ford Fiesta Ladies’ Cup. She was thirteenth overall, not among the front-runners. In 1991, she reappeared in the Fiesta Mixed Cup, partnering Jupp Bröhling. She finished strongly in some of the Ladies’ races, and was ninth in the Ladies’ standings. In between, she seems to have competed in the VLN, and is recorded as a starter in the 1990 Nürburgring 24 Hours. She shared a Ford Fiesta XR2 with Jutta Fischer, Thomas Marschall and Thomas Wirtz, who were also involved in the Mixed Cup. Previously, in 1988, she raced a Peugeot 205 GTI in the same event.

Nadja Hirth – raced in the Toyota Yaris Cup in Germany, between 2001 and 2003. During her first year, she proved herself a capable driver, and had some top-ten finishes, including an eighth at Lausitz. She was one of a relatively large group of female drivers racing in one-makes in Germany at this time, and was often second in the ladies’ standings, behind Stephanie Neitzel. Her senior career followed six years of junior karting.

Dana Jurthe – raced in the Toyota Yaris Cup in Germany, between 2001 and 2003. She was eighteen years old when she started in the series. Although she was relatively competitive in the women’s category, considering her age and lack of experience, she was not able to challenge for overall honours. Later, she seems to have done some sprinting in Eastern Europe, driving a Reynard single-seater.

Jennifer Kölsch – raced in the Toyota Yaris Cup in Germany, in 2005. She was one of seven female drivers in the series that year, but was not the fastest of them. She was 28th overall in the championship, after some non-finishes. Previously, in 2004, she made some appearances in the German Production Car Championship, driving a VW Lupo. She managed two 18th places at Oschersleben. 

Larissa Könnecker – raced in the Toyota Yaris Cup in 2003. She was not particularly successful, although she was quite inexperienced, and even in the Ladies’ class, up against quite a large field. She does not seem to have raced again after that.

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.  

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. Her best finish was an eleventh place, at the Red Bull Ring. Normally, she finished further down the order, although she avoided accidents. She was 20th overall. After the end of the Scirocco-R Cup, she raced in its successor, the Audi TT Sport Cup. Her best finish was thirteenth, at the Nürburgring. 2016 saw a jump-up in power for Doreen, who raced a KTM X-Bow in the European GT4 Series. She did not race for the whole season, but she did manage a ninth place at Spa as her best result. She was 29th overall. 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.

Patricija Stalidzane - former karter who started racing cars in 2018. She is racing in the Central Europe Clio Cup for FSR Performance. She did a part-season and her best result has been a tenth place at the Red Bull Ring. In 2019, she raced an Audi R8 LMS in the ADAC GT4 series, scoring one podium position: a second at Hockenheim. She was 21st overall. Prior to this, she competed in karting at a national level from 2011, having begun at the age of seven in her brother’s kart. Previously, she was set on becoming a ballet dancer. She is a German national but was born in Latvia.

Roxanne Treuberg – young German driver racing in the Kia Lotos Cup in Eastern Europe. 2015 was her first season in circuit racing, after a long karting career. Her car was a Kia Picanto. That year, her best results were two sixteenth places, at the Slovakiaroring and Most. Roxanne was only sixteen years old at the start of the season.

(Image from

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. Ulrike Krafft, Ronja Assmann and Lili Reisenbichler now have their own post.

Heidi Blechinger - raced saloons in Germany in the 1970s. In 1978, she competed in the Trophée l’Avenir with Lili Reisenbichler. They drove an Audi 50 together in the Nürburgring 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.

Lisa (Christin) Brunner -  former karter who had her first season of senior motorsport in 2014, aged 21. She raced a Mini in Division III of the ADAC Procar championship, in Germany. Her team-mate was Victoria Fross. She was relatively competitive from the beginning, with a seventh place at Oschersleben, and was able to hold her own in her class. Her best finish was fourth, at the Nürburgring. Despite not completing the whole of the season, she was ninth in the championship, and third in the Rookie Cup, one place above Victoria Fross. Away from the championship, she also competed in a sprint race at Oschersleben, and was second overall. She started 2015 with a run in the Dubai 24 Hours, in a Peugeot 207, driving for Frensch Power Motorsport. Her final position was 61st. In the spring, she moved on to the Central Europe Clio Cup championship, where she had a best finish of eleventh, at Zandvoort. She was sixteenth overall. Her second season, not a full one, in the Clio Cup gave her a sixteenth place, although she was probably driving better. Her best finish was seventh, at Most. Most was her best circuit in 2017 too; she was ninth. She did the complete season and was 21st overall. 2018 ended in a similar fashion with 22nd overall and three top-ten finishes, a seventh and two eighths. She was 19th in the 2019 championship, picking up a ninth at the Red Bull Ring and tenths at Zandvoort and the Red Bull Ring.

Sarah Ganser – German driver who mostly races in Belgium. She began racing at 15 years old, in a Peugeot, in the 2011 Cup and Tourenwagen Trophy (CTT). The following year, she entered the CTT again, and won her class in six of the fourteen races. In 2013, she moved into the Belgian Racing Car Championship, driving a Porsche 996 GT3. Her co-driver was Karen Vaes. Their best finish was fifteenth, at Spa, but they were third in class in all four of the races they contested. Sarah was 23rd in the championship. In 2014, she moved back to Germany, and entered the VLN, in a BMW 325, as well as some runs in the RCN (Rundstrecken Challenge Nürburgring) in her own Peugeot 206. She retired very early from the DMV 250-Mile race, which sadly ended her VLN involvement. It was not a great year for Sarah or her co-driver, Jana Osterheider, in the RCN, either, as they often struggled to finish. Sarah has her own racing team and planned a return to the circuits in 2015. She was not very active in 2015, but is signed up for the 2016 VLN, as part of an all-female team with Tina Annemuller and Tatjana Hanser. This did not come to fruition, but Sarah did compete in the DMV BMW Challenge. She earned at least one class win, at the Nürburgring. In 2018, she did at least one round of the VLN with a family team, driving a BMW. Away from motorsport, she works as a nurse. 

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 Lüttecke 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.

Helga Hess - raced touring cars in Germany in the late 1980s. She drove a Volkswagen Polo in the Special Touring Car Trophy in 1988. In 1987, she appears to have competed in the VLN, and driven an Audi 50 in the Nürburgring 24 Hours. Her team-mates were Werner Hürttllen and Meinhard Hellweg. Other details of her career are not forthcoming.

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.

Carmen Holzer - raced in Germany in 2005. She drove an Alfa Romeo 147 in the Diesel class of the German Production Car Championship, and finished eighth. Actual race results are hard to come by, but she earned at least an eighth and a seventh at Oschersleben that year. After 2005, she does not appear to have raced again, although she possibly married and competed under another name.

Alexandra Jovanic - raced an Autobianchi A112 Abarth in the DRP in 1977. She competed in the Hockenheim, Salzburg and Ulm-Mengen rounds, and was usually in the middle of a group of Autobianchi drivers. She was not able to challenge for wins. She returned to Hockenheim in 1978, in the same car, and was eleventh in class. Other details of any further racing activities are not forthcoming.

Petra Kolic-Wiese - has had at least five seasons in the German Special Touring Car Trophy, in different cars. In 2007, she raced a Vauxhall Astra and Opel Kadett in the series. In 2009 and 2010, she drove a Volkswagen Golf, with a best finish of thirteenth in 2009. In 2011, she changed to a BMW M3, which was faster, but she was not quite as competitive, although she did figure quite strongly in her class. Towards the end of the season, she changed it again, for an Audi TT, which was a little more competitive. Since 2012, she has campaigned a V8 Star one-make car in the STT, and some associated events in Germany and the Netherlands. 

Sophia Menzenbach - former junior kart champion who is now racing in TCR-based series around the world. After some time spent training, she launched her TCR career in 2019, racing a Volkswagen Golf in the Malaysia Championship Series with sim racer Angeline Lee. They were 24th in their two debut races at Sepang. Sophia has also been linked with a drive in the ADAC TCR series in her native Germany.

Inez Muhle - driver from Hamburg  who raced in Europe in the 1970s. She began in Formula Vee some time 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. 

Saskia Müller – raced in ADAC Procar in Germany in 2010 and 2011. Her car in 2010 was a GENA Autosport Citroen C2. That year, she was a consistent top-ten finisher in Division II, and had a best finish of sixth, at Oschersleben and Hockenheim. In 2011, she drove for Glatzel Racing, in a Ford Fiesta, as team-mate to Sandra Sutter. She was seventh in Division II, after five fifth places, at Zolder and the Red Bull Ring. She does not appear to have raced since. She may now be competing as an amateur jockey.

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. 

Brigitte Schmalzl – racer, rally co-driver and drifter from Austria. Although drifting is her main motorsport activity, she started racing in the Slovakian Racing Trophy in 2014, using the Mercedes 190 in which she competes in drifting. Her best result was sixth. In 2015, she returned to the championship. Her best results have been two seventh places. She races alongside her husband, Christoph, and also acts as his co-driver in historic rallies.

Jessica Schüngel – raced in the RCN series in 2015, driving a VW Polo. It was at least her second year in the championship, and her second in that car. In 2015, she was part of a four-driver team, and took part in the Nürburgring 24 Hours. She and her team-mates were 96th overall, after problems during the night. She is from a racing family, and sometimes competes alongside her father, Ulrich Schüngel.

Bettina Sonntag - driver from the former East Germany who began racing in 1986. She entered the 1300cc class of the DDR’s Touring Car championship, probably in a Trabant. In her first ever race, she managed to hit a kerb and crash, causing the race to be stopped. She improved later in the season, and was fifth in class at the end of the year. She carried on in the same class in 1987, and was seventh, improving to third in 1988. In 1989, she was not as competitive, and finished ninth, but she was third again, in the 1600cc class, in 1990, the last year of the DDR. That year, she also entered the Fiesta Mixed Cup with Oliver Dobbekau, the first East German pairing to do so. After that, she disappears from the entry lists until 2007, when she made a guest appearance in the ADAC GT Masters, driving a Ferrari with he father, Sieghard Sonntag.

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 Nürburgring 24 Hours.

Julia Trampert – raced in ADAC Procar between 2011 and 2013. At first, she did some guest drives for the GENA team, in a Ford Fiesta, before moving to the Liqui Moly Engstler team in 2012, driving a different Fiesta. 2013 seems to have been her best season. It was her second driving for Franz Engstler, and she was seventh in Division II. After that, she could not raise enough sponsorship to continue at this level. She competed in slaloms and karting in 2014, but she does not seem to have raced in 2015. Before entering the Procar series, she did some racing in the VW Fun Cup in 2009 and 2010.

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.

Monika Wallraf - active in German motorsport in the early 1960s. In 1961, she drove an Auto Union 1000 in touring car races, including the Nürburgring 500km, in which she was 20th, driving with Jürgen Karrenberg. They were second in the one-litre class. That season, she also acted as Ewy Rosqvist’s navigator in European rallies, driving a Volvo. They won the Coupe des Dames on that year’s Alpine Rally. The following year, she concentrated more on circuit racing, still with the Auto Union. During the summer of 1962, she raced in the Nürburgring 12 Hours, with a driver called “Peters”, and was third in the one-litre class. Driving solo, she entered the Grand Prix support race at the Nürburgring, and was 24th, seventh in class. A little later, she took part in the Nürburgring 500km again, in a DKW Junior belonging to French driver, Malou Racle. Malou was also driving, and they were 30th overall, sixth in the 850cc class. After this, Monika’s name disappears from the entry lists, although in 1964, she is mentioned as a test driver for Volkswagen in a newspaper article. She is described as being 33 years old, and a beautician.

Suzanne Weidt – raced an Audi R8 LMS Ultra in 2014 and 2015. In 2014, she guested in the International GT Open series, in the GTS category, at the Nürburgring and Spa. Her best finish was eleventh, at Spa. In 2015, she used the same car in the DMV Gran Turismo Touring Car Cup, and was 24th overall. Her sojourn in the GT Open championship was a break from the DMV Touring Car series, in which she also raced the Audi in 2013. In 2016, she raced the Audi R8 in the Dubai 24 Hours, for the Spirit Race team. She and her three team-mates did not finish. In 2017, she stayed in the DMY GT Cup, but changed her car to a Lamborghini Huracan. She was 16th in the championship after a part-season, and scored fifth places at Hockenheim and the Red Bull Ring. A longer season in the series in 2018 led to eleventh in the championship, with a best finish of eighth at Monza and the Nurburgring. 

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

Monday, 11 August 2014

Female Drivers in North American Circuit Racing, 1910-1950

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. Zenita Neville now has her own profile.

Elfrieda Mais (also spelt Maas and possibly 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. The early part of her career is a little unclear as she was sometimes mixed up with Arline Mazy, another driver. 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. Nevertheless, she periodically bragged in the papers of how she was the "champion woman driver of the world". Increasingly, she turned to stunt driving at fairground dirt tracks, to earn money and satisfy her taste for danger. She was killed in 1934, 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.

Arline Mazy - American stunt driver and occasional racer who was active in the 1910s and is sometimes mixed up with Elfrieda Mais, against whom she competed. In 1918, she claimed in the Muncie Evening Press, and Indiana paper, that she had never been beaten by another woman driver. The same year, in July, she won a race on the Lima Driving Park dirt oval, driving a Hudson and defeating seven other competitors. Two months later, she won another race outright at the track and her car was described as “easily the snappiest car entered.”

Helen Temme (Pyott) - raced in Chicago and Indiana in the 1910s and 1920s, usually under the name “Mrs. Oliver Temme”. She raced on fairground dirt tracks in a single-seater, and may well have raced in mixed events at least once. A press clipping from 1923 describes a meeting at the North Shore track, where the winner of the ladies’ race would take on the men. She may also have raced at North Shore in 1924. She may have begun racing as a teenager, in 1916, although details of this race have been lost.

(Image from Originally from the Danville, Virginia newspaper, The Bee.)

Friday, 8 August 2014

Vicky (Vittoria) Piria

Vicky with her F3 car

Vicky, who is half Italian and half English, began her senior racing career early in 2009, at the age of sixteen. Previously, she had driven karts since childhood, although she had only a couple of years of serious competition behind her.
Her first season was a busy one, with rides in Formula Renault, Formula Light 2000 and Formel Lista Junior, in Italy and Europe. She started with Formel Lista Junior, racing at the first event of the season, at Dijon in France. She was fifteenth in her second race, but did not finish her first. After a break, she tried out Italian Formula Renault in July, again, for one meeting. She was fourteenth and thirteenth at Misano. A little later, she joined the Light class of Italian Formula 2000 for the second half of its season. Her best finish was ninth, at Varano, her second race. She also managed tenth places at Misano and Adria, and was 19th overall. Despite gaining a lot of experience, she did not compete in enough races in any series to mount a serious challenge. After the close of the main motorsport season, she returned to Formula 2000 for the Winter Trophy, and scored one fourth place, at Adria. This year, she raced under a British license, which she is entitled to hold, due to her mother’s nationality.
In 2010 she concentrated on the Campionato Italiano Formula ACICSAI Abarth championship, but found it tough-going, competing against older drivers with at least a year’s more single-seater experience. She did not score many points. Her best finish was 16th, at Magione. Her early season results were better than her later ones, and she did prove herself capable of running in the top twenty.
She had a full season in 2011, driving in the Formula ACICSAI Abarth series, and Formula Abarth Europe. She was racing for Prema Powerteam in both series. In the Italian championship, she only entered four races, finishing three of them. She was closer to the pace this year, with two eleventh places and a fourteenth, at Varano. In the European championships, she was quite competitive, with a best finish of eighth, at Monza. She also scored two ninth places, at Valencia and Catalunya. The Valencia result was her first of the season. She was eighteenth overall.
In 2012, she raced in GP3. Her initial plan had been Italian Formula 3, and she had posted some very competitive times in testing. However, an offer of a higher-profile series was too tempting for Vicky, and she accepted, despite having limited experience of racing at this level, or in a car this powerful. Her best finish was twelfth, at Monte Carlo. Mostly, she finished in the lower part of the top twenty, although she did manage a fourteenth at Hockenheim. Unfortunately, she crashed quite heavily in the second race, and was injured. She was unplaced in the championship.
Away from GP3, Vicky travelled to Austria for a guest appearance in the Lotus Ladies Cup, early in the season. This was her first experience of sportscar racing. At the end of the season, she travelled somewhat further, to India, for four rounds of the MRF Challenge, at Irungattukotai. She was eleventh, fifteenth, eighth and fifth, learning the track as the race weekend wore on.
2013 was the year she finally got a seat in a Formula Three car. She drove for RP Motorsport first of all, in the European F3 Open Winter Series, where she was fourth at Jerez. For the Open Series proper, she was with BVM Motorsport, alongside Mario Marasca. As had happened before, her season started quite badly, with a 23rd place at Paul Ricard, but she then rallied, and was fourth the next day. She did not manage to better her fourth place for the rest of the season, but she did obtain six more top-ten finishes, eighth and ninth places at Portimao, the Nürburgring, Jerez, Silverstone and Catalunya. She was tenth in the championship, one place behind her team-mate.
In 2014, Vicky decided to move to the States, in order to take her first steps on the Indycar ladder. She signed up for the Formula Star Mazda Pro Series, with JDC Motorsports. Again, she had a difficult start to the season, and was sent out of her first race, at St Petersburg, by a crash, which also put her out of the second race. At Barber, she was thirteenth in both of her races, out of twenty drivers. Sadly, this seems to have been her last involvement with the series.
In 2015, she returned to Europe, and moved into saloon-based competition. She did not race for most of the season, but in October, she took part in the Imola round of the Mitjet silhouette racing series. Part of her year was taken up with her participation in the Roadto24 contest, a TV-based challenge to find a driver for Le Mans.

She did not race in 2016, although she remained involved in motorsport as an instructor and as a brand ambassador. After another long break, she made a comeback as part of the all-female W Series, driving an F3 car for the first time in six years. She was ninth in the championship with a best finish of fifth at Misano.
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Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Annette Meeuvissen

Annette was a German driver who raced in the 1980s and 1990s, in Europe mainly, but also further afield, as far as Bathurst in Australia. She began her motorsport career in 1980, when she was 18, and initially competed in slaloms. In 1982, she entered her first major championship, the Ford Fiesta Ladies’ Cup. She won the first race, at Wunstorf, and went on the win the Cup, after multiple wins. Throughout the season, Delia Stegemann matched her performances, and they were declared joint winners, the prize doubled. Despite her success, Annette was sometimes the target of disparaging comments from spectators, but she did not let this deter her. Despite her rivalry with Delia Stegemann, the two teamed up for the Nürburgring 24 Hours mid-season, in the Fiesta, with Peter Marx. They did not finish.
For the 1983 and 1984 seasons, she raced in the VLN long-distance series, at the Nürburgring. Apparently, she almost won her class at the 1984 Nürburgring 24 Hours, but was prevented from doing so by a mechanical problem. The complete starting and finishing lists for these races do not seem to be available.
In 1985, she stepped up to international competition, driving a Ford Escort for the Gerstmann team, in the European Touring Car Championship. Driving with Jörg van Ommen, she entered the championship in the third round, at Donington, and was 20th overall. After missing the Anderstorp round, she reappeared at Brno, with Arno Wester as a third driver. They did not finish. The trio were then fifteenth at Zeltweg. After another break, they entered the Spa 24 Hours, but do not appear to have finished. Back as a pair, Annette and Jörg van Ommen raced at the Silverstone Tourist Trophy, but were only 26th. Their last race of the season was at Zolder, but they did not qualify.
1986 was a quieter season for Annette. She raced a Porsche in the 944 Turbo-Cup, against her former team-mate, Jörg van Ommen, and the likes of winner Joachim Winkelhock, but was not among the front-runners. Mid-season, she was linked with another Gerstmann drive in the Spa 24 Hours, but this did not happen.
1987 was certainly not quiet. Annette was paired up with former beauty queen, Mercedes Stermitz, to drive the second Schnitzer Motorsport BMW M3 in the International Touring Car Championship (ITC), competing around the world. Their first race was the second round, at Jarama, and they qualified ninth. However, an accident put them out after eleven laps. Back in action after a short break, they did not finish at the Nürburgring either, driving as a trio with Altfrid Heger. For the Spa 24 Hours, they transferred to the satellite Linder team, still driving a works BMW, with assistance from Gerrit van Kouwen. Despite only qualifying 35th, they were seventh overall. Driving for the factory team, Annette and Mercedes were then fifteenth at Brno. They missed the Silverstone round, but then flew across the world for the Pacific-region races. The prestigious Bathurst 24–hour race in Australia ended in clutch failure, and third driver, Roland Ratzenberger, did not get a look-in. The second Australian race, at Calder Park, was more productive, and the two women were seventh again. Their last race was at Wellington, New Zealand, and it resulted in another crash. Annette was unplaced in the ITC standings.
Away from the ITC, the Schnitzer M3 was entered into the Zeltweg round of the ETCC, Mercedes Stermitz’s home race. They finished seventh, again. The team’s poor finishing record this season was blamed squarely on Stermitz, whose incautious and rather crash-happy style was ridiculed in the motoring press.
In 1988, Annette became one of the first women to race in the DTM, one of several at this time. She was driving another BMW M3, for the Zakspeed team. This year, she was very much a secondary driver, and at the AVUS race, had to give up her car to Markus Oestreich. That said, she participated in almost all of the other races, and finished a large majority of them. She appears to have had some degree of mechanical sympathy, unlike her previous team-mate. Although she was a reliable finisher, her results were not spectacular this year, with a twelfth at the Nürburgring being her best. Towards the end of the season, she was getting into the top twenty regularly, in large fields of about 35 cars. She was 31st in the championship.
 In 1989, she only managed a few DTM races, in a Linder-run BMW M3. She raced at the Hockenheim Rennsport-Festival, and was twelfth, 22nd and 21st in her three races. Later, at Hochenheim again, she was twelfth in a qualification race, but did not finish the race proper, after a rare accident. The rest of the year may well have been spent in the VLN once more, although results are hard to find.
The following year, she was back in the Zakspeed M3, and did the whole DTM season, apart from the fly-away season finale at Kyalami, South Africa. Her year started badly, with a double DNF at Zolder, but it soon picked up and settled down. Her qualifying performances were improving, and she often able to hold her position, just outside the top ten. Her best performance was at AVUS, where she was seventh in the qualification race, and converted it into eleventh in the first feature race. She was also eleventh in a feature race at Hockenheim, part of the Rennsport-Festival, after finishing eleventh in the preliminary qualifying race. That year, she was linked to a drive in a Rimstock M3 in the Spa 24 Hours, but it did not happen.
1990 saw her back in the DTM, driving for the satellite Linder team again. She was entered into the main championship, but not any of the extra races, some for privateers, put on that year. Her team-mates, usually Dieter Quester and Altfrid Heger, were not really on the pace, and Annette did not fare as well as she had in previous years, with a best result of fifteenth, achieved at the Diepholz airfield track. The Mercedes and Opels were more dominant that year, and she was getting left behind somewhat. This would be her last DTM season.
The Nürburgring was a happier hunting ground for her. She was fifth in the 24 Hour race, driving another BMW. During her career, she entered this classic event four times.
In 1992, she did less racing than in previous years. Her only big event was the Spa 24 Hours, in which she drove am M3, run by Bychl Euroracing. With her team-mates, Marc Gindorf and Heiner Weis, she was 17th overall.
Towards the end of her career, Annette became rather frustrated by motorsport and its vagaries. She retired in 1992, and for some time, worked as a performance driving instructor for BMW. In the mid-1990s, she travelled to Africa, where she ended up founding an animal sanctuary in Namibia. Later, she worked as airline cabin crew, and gave birth to a son. She was in the process of setting up her own kindergarten when she became ill with cancer. Sadly, she died a year later, in 2004.
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Saturday, 2 August 2014

Beitske Visser

Beitske after her Lausitz win, in 2012

Beitske Visser is a young Dutch driver with several race wins to her name. Among the current crop of female single-seater drivers, she is probably the most successful, despite her young age and relative inexperience. She began karting competitively at the age of seven, and by 2011, she was competing in the European championships.
Her move into senior motorsport was quick, and she made instant progress. Even her first major race, a round of the 2011 Dutch Supercar Challenge, gave her a win, in the Race 4 Slovakia Praga R4S. For the time being, she kept karting as her main focus, having proved her worth in a car.
In 2012, in search of competitive single-seater racing, she travelled over the border to Germany, to compete in ADAC Formula Masters, which has rounds at Zandvoort. She was driving for Team Lotus.  Her first races, at Oschersleben, gave her a promising ninth and fifth, as well as a DNF, which also caused her to miss the next meeting, as well as the first Zandvoort race. However, she was on the pace on the second day, finishing eighth in the first race, and winning the second one. Later in the season, at Lausitz, she won another race, this time from pole. One of these came from taking advantage of a reverse grid, but was a victory nevertheless, fought for and deserved. Apart from her two wins, her best result was fourth, also at Lausitz. Despite her race-winning speed, Beitske was not always consistent, and mostly finished in the lower half of the top ten. She was eighth overall, despite not doing a full season.
That year, she also travelled to Azerbaijan for some all-star street racing, in a Porsche GT3. She was thirteenth in the Baku City Challenge GT race, alongside Christian Bracke. They were competing against Jacques Villeneuve and Jos Verstappen, among others. Beitske also entered the Sprint race at Baku, in the same car.
Her exploits, and winning ways, in 2012 were enough to draw the attention of Red Bull’s talent scouts. She was signed up to the Red Bull Junior Team development programme for 2013. This meant practical support, and considerable sponsorship for her coming season.
Aided by Red Bull money and guidance, she embarked on a second season in Formula Master. To begin, she carried on where she left off, with eighth and ninth places at Oschersleben.  At Spa, she had another DNF, but it was not serious, and she was 16th and eighth in her next two races. At the Sachsenring, she started off a disappointing fourteenth, but moved up to seventh in the second race, and won the third. This was her only win of the season, but she managed another podium (a third) at the Slovakiaring, and a fourth at the Nürburgring. This added up to a slightly more consistent 2013, and she was tenth in the championship again.
Unfortunately, the Red Bull Junior Team managers were not sufficiently impressed with Beitske’s progress. It was announced in November that she was no longer part of the development squad.
This must have been a big setback for her, but she carried on with her motorsport activities, getting in as much practice and experience as she could, in both karts and cars. She put together a deal with the Spanish-based AVF team for the Formula Renault 3.5 Series in Europe. In order to train most effectively with her team, she moved to Barcelona. Her team-mate was the Swiss driver, Zoël Amberg. Formula Renault was a new experience for Beitske, and proved a steep learning curve. Her first race weekend, at Monza, started with a mystery car failure during the last qualifying session, then moved on to a puncture in the first race. She pushed hard in the second race, made up several places, but then made a mistake, and ended up in 17th place. The second weekend, at Motorland in Spain, did not include a DNF, but did feature problems in qualifying, a fightback, and then a mistakes. She was 18th and 16th.
During a break in FR3.5 proceedings, she accepted a drive in GP3 with Hilmer Motorsport, at her adopted home track of Catalunya. This was the first meeting of the season. Rain, associated tyre issues, problematic qualifying sessions and a poor start in the first race left her 15th and 18th, although as usual, she did make up some places during the races themselves.
Monaco was the next FR3.5 race. She was 17th overall, but lucky to finish, after damaging her car at the start. She managed to set some good lap times during the race itself, but could not convert them into places. However, at Spa, she finally managed her first points finish, a tenth place, after qualifying in 18th. In the second race, she also improved on her qualifying position, despite another little crash, and was fourteenth. In Moscow, she was thirteenth in both races, and was performing better in qualifying. At the Nürburgring, she just managed to finish the first race in 19th, following another puncture. More encouraging was the fact that she qualified in eleventh, with the same time as Zoël Amberg. She struggled to qualify for the second race, in the rain, and was running in twelfth when she crashed into a car going across the track.
In the last round of the season, she achieved her best result: a fifth place at Jerez. She was 21st in the championship. Beitske’s overtaking ability was often noted, a skill which is sometimes lamented in modern motorsport. She was among the leading rookie drivers in FR3.5.

In 2015, she had a second season in FR3.5, driving for AVF again. The early part had some disappointments, including a DNF in the first race at Motorland, and a penalty, for a technical infringement with the underside of her car, at Spa. This was particularly frustrating, as she had qualified in second place, and was dropped to the back of the grid. She bounced back with her first top ten of the year in Hungary, finishing ninth, and she was also tenth at the Red Bull Ring. For the rest of the season, she mostly kept it on track, but could not push into the points-paying positions consistently. She was 23rd overall.

In August, she did another two guest spots in GP3, for the Trident team. She raced at Spa, and finished one of her races, fifteenth place. 

She joined up with Teo Martin Motorsport in 2016, and raced in Formula V8 3.5. It was a solid, if unspectacular season, and she was thirteenth overall. She was a top-ten regular, with a best finish of seventh, which she earned three times, at Jerez, Spa and the Hungaroring.
Although she had quite a limited racing season in 2017, it was a good one, with another win. She had a go at sportscar racing, after the V8 3.5 series was canned. Driving a Schubert Motorsport BMW M4 GT4, she won a European GT4 race at Catalunya. She was 15th in the second race.

She raced again in the GT4 European Series in 2018, driving for the RN Vision STS team along with a rotating crew of team-mates in an M4. Towards the end of the season, she won two races, at the Hungaroring and the Nurburgring, on her way to championship sixth. This year, she was announced as part of the BMW junior driver academy.

As well as the European GT4 series, she made some guest appearances in French GT4s, driving a different team, and in the Nurburgring 24 Hours. 

She continued as a BMW Junior in 2019, making appearances in the VLN and the International GT Open in an M6. She raced in the Pro category for the second half of the year, picking up one second place at the Red Bull Ring and a fourth at Silverstone. Her single race in the Pro-Am class led to a win at the Red Bull Ring, sharing a car with Richard Gonda.

Beitske was also selected for the all-female W Series and quickly became one of its leading drivers. She was second overall, with one win at Zolder.

Away from racing, she seems to have considerable gymnastic ability, as evidenced by pictures on her Twitter feed, which show her in difficult balance positions. Despite her ex-pat status, she is proud of her origins, and her car is Dutch orange whenever possible.
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