Saturday, 21 March 2015

Early Female Racers in New Zealand

Sybil Lupp

There was no major, organised motor racing in New Zealand until after the Second World War. After that, in the late 1940s, road races began to be held, first on public roads, then on purpose-built circuits. Women drivers were involved in these, right from the start. They were also part of the speed eventing scene, which grew up shortly before this.

This post describes some of New Zealand’s female racers in the 1940s and 1950s.

Nola Blackburn – raced a JAP-engined Cooper single-seater in road races in the 1950s. She took part in the New Zealand Championship Road Race in 1952 and 1953, and finished once, in tenth place, at Mairehau, in 1952. The following year, when the race was held at Dunedin, she crashed out. Nola may also have raced a Buick alongside her father, Vic Blackburn, shortly before. The Cooper remained in the family until about 1958, when it was sold.

Sybil Lupp – New Zealand’s first female racing driver. Her interest in cars began on the engineering side, and she was one of New Zealand’s first female mechanics in the 1940s. She started racing after her second marriage, in 1947. Initially, she drove in hillclimbs, scoring several wins in MG cars. In 1949, she entered the first road race in New Zealand, the Road Racing Championship, and was fifth, in an MG TC. In 1950, she was second in the same race, in the TC, and first on handicap. In 1952, she raced an MG TD, and was seventh in both the Lady Wigram Trophy and the CWF Hamilton Trophy. In 1953, she changed from an MG to a Jaguar XK-120. In this car, she was seventh in the CWF Hamilton Trophy, with HR Brown, and seventh in the Dunedin race, driving solo. As well as racing, she was one of the founder members of the Otago Motor Association, and ran a series of garages and car dealerships. She died in 1994.

June Monk – started off racing a Ford 10 special, then acquired a Triumph TR2, painted pink, which she raced in some major events in the mid-1950s. She did not finish the CWF Hamilton Trophy in 1955 or 1956, but was twelfth in the South Island Championship Road Race in 1957. Her position on handicap was fourth. After this, she competed in club events only, in a Jaguar XK140.

(Image from

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