Manuela Vasquez in 2010
One-make racing series are popular in South America. Due in part to initiatives such as Formula Hyundai Femenina (Argentina) and the Brazilian Fiesta Championship, quite a lot of women have competed in them in the last 20 years.
Lorena Blanco – best known for racing in Fiat one-make championships in Argentina. She started off in the Fiat Linea Cup in 2010, entering the last few rounds, following some previous historic racing. She had another part-season in 2011, and made it into the top twenty on four occasions. The Linea series crossed over to using the Punto Abarth in 2012, and she improved her best finish to fifteenth. That year, she was the team-mate of a returning Marisa Panagopulo. A full season in the Punto in 2013 gave her two fifteenth places, and 24th overall. A final part-season in the Punto, in 2014, saw her finish fourteenth, three times, and end up in 32nd place overall. In 2015, she did another part-season in the Punto series, and was 31st in the championship. Her best finish was 17th, at La Pampa. This arrangement continued in 2016, and her best finish improved to fourteenth, at Trelew. She was 36th overall.
Juliana Carreira - began racing in 1998, in a Vauxhall Corsa, participating in regional one-make races. She was involved in the women’s Corsa championship in 1999, and the later Fiesta version in 2001. In 1999, she also took part in four Corsa Metrocar (a mixed Corsa one-make series) races, finishing in the top five in three of them. She also raced in a Clio Cup in Brazil at some point. She is from a racing family, and drove in the 2003 Mil Milhas Brasileira with her brother, Luiz, and Denis de Freitas and Jose Venezian. They were 15th, in an Audi RS2G. Later, she also did some Stock Car racing, in 2006. She works in fashion and the media in Brazil.
Francisca Cortés – raced in the Chilean Trofeo Nissan Sunny in 1990. She was the first female driver to take part in the series, and one of Chile’s first female racing drivers. Although she never managed a podium position, she did achieve some top-ten finishes, and one pole position, at Antofagasta. This was overshadowed by the death of another driver during the race itself. The final championship standings for this series are not forthcoming. Francisca does not appear to have raced since then.
Carolina Eiras – did two seasons in the Fiat Linea Cup in Argentina, in 2010 and 2011. Her 2010 season is chiefly remembered for a spectacular crash into a lake at the Resistencia circuit, after which she was helped to safety by spectators. Her best finish was thirteenth, at Alta Gracia. In 2011, she did not complete as many races, managing three 19th places out of four starts. She is a former Olympic skier.
Julieta (Juli) Fernández - one of the front-runners in the Argentine Mini Challenge in 2013. She was third overall, just missing out on an actual win, but with two podium finishes and two podium positions. She did manage to win some at least one training race. This was her first experience of saloon car racing, although she did do some GT racing in 2009, aged 18. She drove a new Crespi prototype in the GT 2000 series for Oyikil Motorsport, although she did not finish her race. In 2010, she was linked to a drive in Formula 4, but she did not have the budget to compete. Previously, she was active in karting in Argentina for many years, and may have also competed in Formula 1100 briefly. In 2015, she took part in the Top Race championship, driving a Chevrolet Cruze. She almost reached the top ten a couple of times, finishing eleventh at Rosario and Olivarria. She was 25th overall.
Michelle de Jesus - Brazilian driver who has been competing since 2006. She started out in her regional championship in São Paulo. By 2010, she was second overall in the championship, a best-ever finish for a female driver. The following year, she moved into national-level competition, driving in a few rounds of the Brazilian Petrobras de Marcas Cup (in a Toyota Corolla) and the Mercedes Benz Grand Challenge (in a C250 CGI). As she only did a couple of races, she did not do enough to make her mark on the final standings. She returned to the Grand Challenge in 2012, this time mounting a full campaign. Her car was the same, run by the Pink Energy team. She was ninth overall, with a best finish of fifth , at Rio de Janeiro. For 2013, she changed marques, moving to the Mitsubishi Lancer Cup. She achieved her first podium, at third at Velo Città, on her way to another ninth overall finish. Early in the season, she also made her first trip to Europe, to participate in one round of the Euro Racecar series, at Dijon. She was thirteenth, in a Chevrolet Camaro. In 2014, she stayed in South America, competing in truck racing, and the Marcas e Pilotos Cup. Her car in the Cup was a Corsa, and she does not appear to have completed a full season. She was 25th in Formula Truck, after a part-season, and had a best result of eighth, at Brasilia. In 2015, she was registered for Formula Truck, but does not appear to have actually raced.
Carolina Larratea – Uruguayan driver from a motorsport family, who has been racing in the Chevrolet Sonic Cup since 2013. She was tenth in 2013, with a best finish of second, at El Pinar. In 2014, she scored her first outright win in the Cup, in the last round. This race was doubly notable in that two female drivers started on pole and second place. Carolina won the Sonic Ladies’ Cup. She continued to race a Chevrolet Sonic in 2015. Her season began very well, with a pair of wins at El Pinar, and she was second in the championship. She made the podium again in 2016, in third place.
Graziela (Zizi) Paioli - Brazilian driver who has raced in two different one-make championships. In 2007 and 2008, she had part-seasons in the Brazilian Clio Cup. In 2008, she finished tenth at Santa Cruz, her first Clio Cup top ten, and was 21st in the championship. After some time out, she returned to competition in 2011, in the Mercedes Benz Grand Challenge. Her car was a C250 run by her family team, Paioli Racing, as always. Her best finish was fourth, at Santa Cruz, and she also finished in the top ten on five more occasions. She was eleventh overall. Her father, Marco Paioli, is also a racer, who runs the team with Graziela’s mother. Graziela herself became a mother in early 2013, explaining her absence from the track.
Marisa Panagopulo - Argentine driver, active since the 1990s. She seems to have started in 1994, in a Nissan Sentra, which she may have used in a women-only series that was shown on television. Certainly, in 1996, she was part of Formula Hyundai Femenina, a touring car championship for female drivers. That year, she also raced a Citroen AX in a Citroen one-make series, and made at least one appearance in Turismo Carretera Argentina, in a Ford Falcon. After that, she turned to karting for many years, before making a circuit comeback in 2012. With Delfina Frers, Lorena Blanco and Carolina Eiras, she was part of an all-female team for the Fiat Linea Cup. She was ninth in the Rosario race. Since then, she has returned to competitive karting, and made a guest appearance in the ASM Championship in 2014. She was driving a Fiat Uno.
(Image from http://masguau.com/)