Friday, 28 August 2015

Female Rally Drivers After 1950: Malaysia

Gina Finanza Daud in 2014

For most of its history, Malaysian rallying has been a largely male-only enclave, apart from a few overseas drivers. In recent years, home-grown female drivers have started to compete, and their numbers can only increase.

Rohani Ahmad - Malaysian driver who competes in the Malaysian championship. She did her first rally in 2012, in a Proton Satria, and was eleventh in the fourth round of the Malaysian championship. Still in the Satria, which is the car of choice for many Malaysian drivers, she entered three rallies in 2013. She finished eleventh in the Rally of Perlis, and eighteenth in the Malaysian Rally and the International Rally of Perak. In 2014, she drove in the International Rally of Perak, but did not finish. 

Gina Finanza Daud - has been competing regularly in Malaysian rallies since 2011. Her car is always a Proton Satria. Her first attempt at the Rally of Malaysia in 2011 gave her a class win, and 18th overall. She did not rally much in 2012, but came back in 2013, and scored her first top ten, a tenth place in the Perak Rally, as well as eleventh in her third Malaysian Rally. In 2014, she achieved another two top tens, a ninth in the International Rally of Perak, and an eighth in the Rally Negeri Sembilan. She did her first rally as a driver in 2008, the Jaya One Rally, and then continued to compete as a co-driver for at least a season. As well as rallying, she competes in circuit races in Malaysia, driving a Honda DC2. She originally got into motorsport through her management of Malaysian driver, Sutan Mustaffa Salihin. In 2016, she was part of the stewarding team for the Rally of Malaysia. She made a driving comeback in 2017 and won the Malaysian Classic Car rally championship. Her car was a Proton Saga. In 2018, it was back to current machinery. She rallied a Proton Satria and had a best finish of twelfth in the Rally of Terengganu. 

Fadzilah Mamat – began her competition career in Malaysia in 2015. Her first rally was the Rally Negeri Sembilan, the second round of the championship, on gravel. She drove a Proton Satria, and was fourteenth overall, third in class. In August, she took part in her first Malaysian Rally, and was 21st, with another class third, in the same car. This was in spite of ending up in a ditch on the first day. She did some co-driving for Ahmad Amir in 2016. 

(Image from

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Women Drivers in One-Make Series: the Netherlands in the 21st Century

L-R: Sandra Douma, Kim van den Berg, Laura Kool, Suzanne Jager, Theresia Balk

A large number of female drivers competes in one-make series in the Netherlands. Those who began their careers after 2000 can be found here. For earlier one-make specialists, please go to the original post

Kim (Guven) van den Berg - Dutch saloon specialist. She began racing in 2007, in the Suzuki Swift Cup, and was eighteenth overall after seven races. Her best finishes were two tenth places at Zandvoort. She also took part in the Barcelona 24 Hours in a VW Golf, with a Dutch team, and was 45th. Later in the year, she scored her first win in the Dutch Winter Endurance Series, in the Swift. In the 2008 Swift Cup she was 27th, after missing some races, and only managing a best finish of fourteenth, at Zandvoort and Zolder. She returned to the series in 2009 and showed much improvement, becoming a regular visitor to the top ten and scoring her first top-five place, a fourth in the penultimate round, at Zandvoort. She was tenth overall. She had a less successful season in 2010, mainly down to only contesting six races. This was reversed in 2011, when she ran in most of the Swift Cup, earning her first podium position. She was eighth in the championship. In 2012, she bettered her record again, with sixth overall, and four top-three finishes. In 2013, she took part in the Lotus Ladies' Cup in Eastern Europe. Her best finish was ninth, and she was thirteenth overall.

Carlijn Bergsma - races in one-make series in her native Netherlands, initially the Light division of the Benelux Racing League, from 2006 to 2008. From her first season, she proved herself capable of finishing in the top ten. Due to website issues, her full race results were unavailable at the time of writing. She did not compete for the full season in 2008. Previously, she took part in the Pearle Alfa 147 Challenge in 2002, and also the Toyota Yaris and SEAT Cupra Cups. In 2011, she competed in the BMW Z4 Zilhouette Cup with Pieter de Jong. They were sixth overall, with six top-three finishes. Carlijn continued in the Zilhouette Cup in 2012, driving with Sipke Bijzitter this time. They were third overall, after nine podium finishes, although no wins. In 2013, she had another season in Zilhouette racing, with Piet de Jong this time. They participated in at least two rounds, and achieved podium positions at both. With the same team-mate, she won the championship in 2014, winning three times. She continued her winning ways in the Sport division of the Supercar Challenge in 2015, winning three races in a Lotus Exige. She was fourth overall, losing a few points due to DNFs. She returned to the Supercar Challenge in 2016, with Pieter de Jong. They were fifth in their class, with two wins. In 2018, she returned to the Zilhouette Cup in a BMW, scoring at least two podiums. 

Cynthia Boezaart - made a late debut in motorsport in 2009, at the age of 38. She contested the Volkswagen Endurance Cup in a Golf, for Certainty Racing. The four-driver team, including Cynthia's husband, Martin, was 28th in the championship. Cynthia contested the Diesel Touring Cup in a BMW in 2010. She was 45th out of 63 drivers. Returning to the series in 2011, she was 27th, and managed to score her first pole position. In 2012, she raced in the Burando Production Open in a Ginetta G50. She was seventh overall, her best championship result to date. In 2014, she raced an Avenger kit car in the Avenger Cup, but lost out on a podium place in the final leaderboard, due to not scoring any points in the last three rounds. In 2015, she raced in the DNRT Endurance Cup in a BMW 320d. Driving as part of a team of three, she was second overall in the Zandvoort 6 Hours. She raced a Mazda MX-5 in the Max5 Cup in 2016, as part of a two-driver team with Martin. 

Myrthe Bos – raced in the PTC Cup in the Netherlands in 2011 and 2012. Both times, her car was a Toyota Aygo. In 2011, she was ninth, after doing just under half the season. A shorter programme in 2012 gave her twelfth place. She was only sixteen years old when she started in the PTC Cup. She returned to the PTC Cup in 2013, driving with Perry Grondstra, but was not among the frontrunners. After 2013, she does not appear to have raced, probably due to funding issues. Her website has been taken down.

Liz Grondel – raced a Toyota Aygo in the Netherlands in 2010 and 2011. In 2010, she competed in the M-Lease Aygo Cup, and was third overall, with eleven podium finishes from twelve races. The following year, she took part in the Aygo-based PTC Cup, but did not do a full season. She was tenth in the final standings. After this, she seems to have left motorsport, in favour of running her own cafe business.

Sharona van den Haak - drove in the SEAT Endurance Cup in 2009, in a diesel Ibiza. She and the SR Competition team were twelfth, with one pole position. This appears to have been Sharona's first competitive season on the circuits. In 2012, she was racing a BMW E30 in club endurance events. Previously, she raced karts.

Nicolette van der Hoek Ostende (Koster) - Dutch driver with wins in touring car endurance races. She was given an award for being the leading female driver in the Netherlands in 2002, after competing strongly in the Toyota Yaris Cup. Her final result was fourth overall. In 2001, she had a similar season, and led the Coupe des Dames standings from Paulien Zwart. Nicolette’s endurance successes came in the Dutch Winter Endurance series between the 2001 and 2002 seasons, where she was a race-winner. She has not competed since the birth of her daughter in 2003.

Suzanne Jager - Dutch saloon racer who competed in the Suzuki Swift Cup from 2007. She was seventh in 2007 and thirteenth in 2008. As well as the one-make championship, she shared a car with Laura Kool for the Dutch Winter Endurance Series. The pair first drove together in 2006 in the Winter Endurance Series, sharing a BMW E30. Suzanne’s partner in 2007 was Kim van den Berg, and she drove the Swift. After several years of karting, Suzanne began full-size motorsport in 2004, racing a Volvo 360. She won the 360 class in the Volvo championship in 2006, after winning five races. She did some Swift races in 2009.

Laura Katsma - competed in the Suzuki Swift Cup in the Netherlands in 2009. She was 18th in the championship, and had a best finish of ninth at the Paasraces meeting at Zandvoort. Her form dipped towards the end of the season, possibly due to an accident that put her out of one of the races. Previously, she had raced the Swift in one round of the 2008-2009 Dutch Winter Endurance Series. In 2010, she returned to the series, and was fifteenth overall. Her best finish was fourth.

Laura Kool - drove in the Suzuki Swift Cup in the Netherlands in 2007. She was fifteenth overall in what was her first full season of car racing. Later in the year, she drove the Swift in a round of the Dutch Winter Endurance Championship. As well as the Suzuki, she also did some club racing in a BMW 325i at Zandvoort, in 2006 and 2007. Prior to 2007, she was a successful karter on the European circuit, with a best result of third overall in her national championship. She does not appear to have raced since the end of 2007, despite being linked with the Dunlop Sport Maxx series.

Melanie Lancaster - one of the youngest Dutch drivers ever to race in a senior series, aged sixteen, in 2007. She started competing full-time in 2008, after some testing and race school events, in the Dacia Logan Cup in the Netherlands. Her best finish was a second at Zandvoort, and she was seventh overall after a further two third places and some more top tens. In 2009, she entered the DNRT BMW E30 Cup, after a guest spot in the Dutch Winter Endurance Series. She only appears to have competed in two races, perhaps due to funding problems. Since then, she has done some drifting and worked in race tuition and development.

Renate Sanders (Wilschut) - Dutch one-make saloon regular. She has raced in the Toyota Yaris Cup and the SEAT Cupra Cup, the latter alongside Paulien Zwart. She drove the Yaris between 2001 and 2003. Her best result was seventh in 2003. After that, she moved to the SEAT Cupra series, initially with her father Bertus, and then with Paulien Zwart. She was seventh in 2004 and sixth in 2005. In 2006, she entered the Dutch Endurance Championship in a BMW 120d, assisted once again by Bertus and Frank Wilschut. She and Frank remained team-mates for 2007, back in SEAT Cupras. The third driver was Jacco Valentijn. In 2008, they entered the Toyo Tyres 24-Hour series. They were 25th in the Dubai race, in the BMW. Using the same car, they competed in a touring car series for diesel vehicles in Holland. As Renate Wilschut, she drove a BMW 123d in the 2011 Dutch Toerwagen Cup, and was 29th in the championship. In 2013, she competed in the Lotus Ladies' Cup, and was eleventh overall, with two second places. As well as this, she drove a BMW 120d in the Burando Production Open, and was third overall. She returned to the Lotus Cup in 2014, and fared much better, coming third, after two podium places at Oschersleben.

Karen Schipper – raced in the SEAT Endurance Cup during the 2007 and 2009 seasons. In 2009, she was fifth in the championship, with one podium finish. Her car was a SEAT Ibiza, and she was racing as part of a four-driver SNA Racing team. In 2007, she raced for the SP-Support team, in the Unipart Endurance Cup. Results are harder to come by, but the team was eighth in the season finale at Zandvoort.

Femke Terpstra - karter and saloon racer from the Netherlands. After three years of championship karting, she entered the Light division of the Benelux Racing League in 2007, driving a Ford Focus silhouette car. She was sixteenth overall after car trouble marred her season. As well as the BRL, she did four races of the Mini Challenge, won two of them and came second in another. This was enough to win her the championship. In 2008, she returned to BRL Lights. It was a much stronger year for her and she was seventh. Her best race finish was fourth, at Zolder, and she was consistently in the top ten finishers. She took part in two BRL races in 2009, but retired after that, following some sponsorship deals that turned out to be false.

Femke Thijssen – finished fourth in the PTC Cup in 2012, driving a Toyota Aygo. She won one race. Later that year, she did at least some races in the Dutch Supercar Challenge, driving the Aygo with Henk Thijssen. In 2013, she did some more PTC Cup racing, and won at least one race, as part of a two-driver team with Joyce Kraan. They were thirteenth in the ACNN PTC championship, as a team. 

Madelon van der Vossen - competed in the Toyota Yaris Cup in the Netherlands in 2001 and 2002. In 2001, she only made one guest appearance, but in 2002, she completed most of the season and was  27th overall. That year, there was quite a strong female presence in the series, and in the Ladies’ Cup, she was normally third. She seems to have missed part of the season due to injuries sustained in a crash, and did not return to the circuits.

Maaike de Wit - began racing full-time in 2008, in the Formido Suzuki Swift Cup in the Netherlands. She was 29th in the championship, with a best finish of fourteenth at the Jubileumraces at Zandvoort. Her first season was marred by quite a lot of DNFs. After a brief run in her Swift in the 2008-2009 Dutch Winter Endurance Championship, she returned to the Swift Cup in 2009. She was 23rd in the points, after a slightly more consistent season, with more finishes. Her best result was fifteenth at the Masters of Formula 3 meeting at Zandvoort. On her return in 2010, she improved that to a tenth place at Zandvoort.

Ella Zander - began her racing career in 2009, in the Dutch Suzuki Swift Cup. She did not enter all of the races, and had best finishes of 17th and 18th in the final races of the year, at Zandvoort. In spite of this, she had a reliable season and finished all of the races she started. She was 24th in the championship.

(Image copyright Chris Schotanus)

Monday, 24 August 2015

Henny Hemmes

Henny as a champion, in 1987

Henny Hemmes raced saloon cars in Europe from the 1970s to the 1990s. She entered the Spa 24 Hours fourteen times, and had a best finish of sixth.

Like many other Speedqueens, Henny got into motor racing through her husband, Peter, but initially, she was not a competitor. Roelof Wunderink was a friend of Peter’s, and he and Henny acted as pit crew for him during his rise through the racing ranks.

Henny had always been sporty and competitive, and wanted to have a go herself. In 1975, encouraged by Peter and Roelof, she entered a racing talent contest organised by André Pilette, based around Formula Vee. She was the winner, out of eighty entrants.

After proving that she had the basic talent needed, she jumped straight into the Dutch Touring Car Championship, wasting no time at all. Her car was a Toyota Celica GT which she had bought herself, run by the Eumig Film Racing Team. She was a steady finisher in all of her races, and featured well in the 1600cc class, with a best finish of third, in the final race of the season at Zandvoort. She was fourth in class at the end of the year.  

In her second year of racing, she entered her first Spa 24 Hours. As well as her first major endurance race of many, it was the start of a racing partnership with members of the Vermeulen family, who would be her regular Spa team-mates in the future. Henny and Loek Vermeulen shared her Toyota in 1976, driving for the Dutch National Team. They were 21st overall, second in class. Henny, as the leading female driver, was awarded a diamond ring.

Driving solo, she competed in some rounds of the DTCC (NTK), in the Toyota, but was not able to put together a strong challenge.

For the next two seasons, she continued to be sponsored by Eumig Film, but swapped the Celica for a Chevrolet Camaro. She used this car in the 1977 NTK, for some rounds, finishing fourth overall, and in the Spa 24 Hours. In 1977, she was sixth in the Francorchamps enduro, from pole, with Loek and Huub Vermeulen. She set a new closed-wheel lap record in the process. The following year, she did not finish. Her co-drivers were Loek Vemeulen and Hans Deen. Elsewhere, she raced the Camaro in the Belgian rounds of the Benelux and German touring car championships, finishing sixth in one German round at Zandvoort. She scored her first big win at Zandvoort, in the 2-Hour race.

In 1979, she continued in the Camaro, now sponsored by ADP and the newspaper for which she wrote. She had “Journal Tintin” on her car, a reference to the Belgian boy reporter. It was an eventful year in the Dutch championship, with a couple of crashes and subsequent accusations by rivals, but Henny also put in some good performances, the best of these being two second places. She and Loek Vermeulen were 18th in the Spa 24 Hours.

1980 panned out in a similar way. Henny drove the Camaro in the NTK, and was involved in some rather robust driving which ruffled a few feathers. Her best finish was second, in the season finale at Zandvoort. She was behind last year’s team-mate, Loek Vermeulen, who had tangled with her earlier in the season. The Spa 24 Hours was rather disappointing, as Henny did not finish. As a consolation, she won her third non-championship Diners Trophy race at Zandvoort.

In 1981, she was fourth in her class in the NTK, in the Camaro. She mostly steered clear of accidents, and was a consistent top-five finisher, with some class pole positions as well. Her final championship position was third, after two second places, one from pole. Another season in the Camaro gave her the NTK win she had been waiting for, in the Trophy of the Dunes, and she was second in the ADAC Nordsee Cup, both at Zandvoort. Due to her not completing the whole season, she was second in the championship. After two non-finishes, she managed to get to the end of another Spa 24 Hours in 1983, driving a Mazda RX-7 rather than the Camaro. She was 17th overall, with Hans van der Beek and Fred Frankenhout.

After her race win in 1983, she got her championship in 1984, winning the over 2500cc class of the NTK in the Camaro. It was a dominant performance, with four wins from eight races, including an outright victory against faster cars in the season finale. Driving a BMW in the Spa 24 Hours, she was eleventh, with Břetislav Enge.

1985 began well, with a second place, but for much of the season, Henny struggled or was absent from the NTK. She also sat out the Spa 24 Hours for the first time in several years. The following year, she did not appear in the NTK, although she had been due to drive a BMW. Instead, she raced trucks for DAF and Liaz. She returned to touring cars for the Spa 24 Hours, driving a Toyota Corolla as part of an all-female team, with Anny-Charlotte Verney and Chantal Grimard. They were 25th.

A return to the NTK in 1987 was very successful. Henny had moved on from the ageing Camaro, and raced a Ford Sierra Cosworth, sponsored by Blaupunkt. She was the Division One champion, with one win and two second places.  

She was second in Division One in 1988, although it was a fighting performance in the Sierra, with three wins. Only Ger van Krimpen’s second-place tally put him ahead. She drove a Toyota Corolla in the Spa 24 Hours, but did not finish.

A new three-door Sierra arrived for her in 1989, and she proved herself still a force to be reckoned with at the Colmar Berg round of the NTK, in Luxembourg. She won both Production heats, and the final. At the Clubraces in April, she was a hard-fighting second. These results gave her fourth in the championship.

After a year’s gap, Henny returned to the Spa 24 Hours in 1990. She was driving a Honda Civic for Team Seikel, and won her class. She and her team-mates, Peter Seikel and Stanislao de Angelis, were 19th overall. Her other activities this year included the European Community Challenge, a road rally through twelve EC states, in a Ford Sierra. Her second run in the Challenge, with a team of fellow woman journalists in 1991, brought a sixth place, and a record for the best female result, and the best result for a media team. A second Spa 24 Hours for Team Seikel ended in another class win, after Henny, Dagmar Suster and Lothar Schörg were 21st.

1992 saw her last participation in the Spa 24 Hours. It was a third outing in the Seikel Honda Civic, and she was 23rd, with another class win. Her co-drivers were Astrid Hild and Thomas Müller.

Her full-time professional racing career ends here, although she continued to be active for a while longer. She was named as a third driver for the Seikel team in the ADAC GT Championship in Germany, in a Honda NSX, but was a reserve only. In 1994, she was sixth in the Neon Challenge support race for the Detroit Grand Prix.

After that, she stopped racing wheel-to-wheel, but continued testing cars, as part of her job as a motoring journalist, and broke some speed records. In 1996, she drove a Saab 900 at Talladega Speedway, and set a new one-hour world record. In 2007, she drove a Saleen in a speed shootout in California. She won a “Hot Shoe Award” for her speed.

Henny continued to write about motoring and test cars for a number of publications, including AutoWeek. She worked as a motoring writer from 1979 onwards and was also a member of the FIA's Women in Motorsport Commission.

She died in April 2019, aged 70.

(Image copyright Gerrie Hoekstra)

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Lorina McLaughlin (Boughton)

Lorina with her 1992 Benetton

Lorina is best known now for racing and hillclimbing Formula One cars from the 1970s and 1980s, but her career goes back much further than that.

She has been racing since 1970, having begun in an Alexis Formula Ford, as Lorina Boughton. Unlike many of her Speedqueen contemporaries, she is not from a family with a history of motorsport, but was introduced to circuit racing by a friend, who took her to Goodwood.

In her first year of racing, she won the BWRDC’s Newcomer award. By 1973, she was their Racing champion.

In 1974, she took over the running of a GRD Formula 3 car from her erstwhile team-mate, Jeremy Gambs, who was stepping down from the cockpit. The car was eligible for the Formula 4 championship that year, so Lorina entered. She was one of the star drivers of the series, and would have won it outright, if she had not had to drop some of her scores to get her final position. She was second overall, with three wins, and two “Man of the Meeting” awards, causing it to be renamed “Driver of the Meeting”.  This achievement netted her a BWRDC Embassy Trophy, and second in their racing championship, as well as the prestigious Lord Wakefield Trophy, for outstanding female contribution to motorsport.   

For the next couple of seasons, Lorina raced a Sark Formula Ford, and a Royale FF2000 car, with some good results, in Formula Ford and Formula Libre. She was also very active in the British Women Racing Drivers’ Club, and was one of those chosen to take part in the Shellsport Ladies Escort Championship, from its beginning in 1974. Her best year in the championship was 1975, when she had her best result of second, at Brands Hatch, with a fastest lap as a consolation. She was fourth in the final standings.

Between 1978 and 1980, she was a multiple championship winner at club level. She won the BARC Teddy Lawry Championship in 1978 and 1980, using one of her single-seaters, and in between, won the BARC FF2000 championship in the Royale, and set a Fastest Time of the Day at the Lydden Hill sprint. The following year, she was awarded the BARC’s Sydney Allard Trophy. A second win in the Teddy Lawry championship was hers in 1980.

Lydden Hill was a favourite track with Lorina; she won the Lydden racing championship in 1982. In the early and middle part of the 1980s, she was active in several different historic Formula Junior cars, including a Gemini, in which she set a Snetterton lap record in 1983. In 1984, she set another record at the same track, this time driving a Lotus 22. This achievement came on the way to a second place in the Historic Formula Junior Championship.

In 1982, she was part of a BWRDC all-female team in the Oulton Park 4-Hour Relay race, driving a Davrian. The other two members of the team were Julie Thwaites, in another Davrian, and Sue Davies, in a Hillman Imp. They were second overall on scratch.

Towards the end of the 1980s, Lorina became increasingly focused on historic competition, and she was proving her mettle in very powerful cars. In 1989, she raced an ex-James Hunt McLaren M23 Formula One car, and won Class B of the Historic Formula One Championship. Her best result was a fourth place, at Magny-Cours, in a Grand Prix support race. In 1991, she took the lap record at Silverstone in a Climax-engined Lotus 20 F1 car, racing in the F1 FISA Trophy. Between then and 1994, she was a regular in historic events, usually in the McLaren. Almost twenty years earlier, she had watched James Hunt race the car.

Lorina took a break from competitive motorsport lasting from 1994 to 2000, during which she concentrated on other things. She had married David McLaughlin in 1989, and together, they promoted historic Formula One, under the banner of “The FORCE” (The Historic European Formula One Car Entrants). Lorina continues to work as a race organiser to this day.

On her return to competition in 2000, she did not ease herself back in with some club meetings in a Formula Ford or a little saloon – she went straight back to the McLaren, demonstrating it at the Coys Festival. Slightly less powerful, but not much, was the Formula 2-spec Brabham BT30 she raced in the Classic Grand Prix championship.

After her return, she became a regular fixture at the big historic motorsport events, including the hillclimb at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. She has won the Ladies’ Award at the FOS seven times, usually in the McLaren, but it is not the only car she has taken up the hill. In 2012, she drove an Arrows A9, and in 2011, an ex-Denny Hulme McLaren M19. Her car in 2013 was an ex-Michael Schumacher Benetton B192 from 1992. In 2015, she drove an Osella F1 car.

Wheel-to-wheel racing had not been forgotten. During 2003, she raced in Europe, and managed at least two sixth places at the Pau Historic Grand Prix. In 2004, she raced the McLaren M23 at the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix Historique, and was twelfth, out of 30. She has also raced a March 711 in the States.

As well as her multiple Ladies’ awards at Goodwood, she set the fastest ladies’ time of the day at the 2008 Cholmondeley Pageant of Power.

In 2012, she travelled to Azerbaijan, for the inaugural Baku City Classic Grand Prix. She drove the Benetton, but it was not one of her best moments, due to fuel pipe issues, and she counts it as her worst race.

In 2015, Lorina was still a regular fixture at historic meetings around the UK, normally in the Benetton, and she demonstrated that car at the Silverstone Classic. In 2016, she took the Arrows up the Goodwood hill again. She is still active as an organiser for The Force.

She was elected President of the BWRDC at the start of 2019.

(Picture copyright Lara Platman)

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Gosia Rdest

Gosia as an Audi driver

Malgorzata Rdest, always known as Malgosia or Gosia, is a Polish driver who races saloons and single-seaters in Europe.

She was born in 1993, and started karting quite late for someone who would go on to drive professionally; she was a teenager. At the age of twelve, she went to a car show, which sparked an interest in all things automotive. In 2011, she won the Polish championship in the KF2 class, and went on to race in Italy, winning some races.

Her first steps in senior competition were in 2012, a year later. She took part in the Formula BMW Talent Cup, held at Oschersleben in Germany, hoping to win a funded season of single-seater racing for 2013. Her inexperience showed, but she managed to finish all three races, with two sevenths and one tenth place. She was tenth in the championship.

She competed in Formula 4 in Great Britain in 2013, in the form of the MSA Formula series. Her best finish was eleventh, at Snetterton, and she was 18th in the championship, out of 27 drivers. After the main season had finished, she entered the Formula 4 Winter Series, and managed two eighth places, at Brands Hatch. This year, she took her first steps in saloon racing, and drove in three rounds of the Volkswagen Castrol Cup, in Austria, Hungary and Poland, with three top-ten finishes. These included a fifth place at the Red Bull Ring.

In 2014, she raced in the Volkswagen Castrol Cup in Eastern Europe. Her best result was sixth, at her home track of Poznan, and she finished in the top ten on three more occasions. She was fourteenth overall. A guest appearance in the Volkswagen Scirocco-R Cup gave her a DNF, and as a result, she could not start the next race. 

Saloon racing, in particular, one-make series, became her chief focus for 2015. Remaining with Volkswagen power, and in a Polish-based championship, she signed up for the Polish VW Golf Cup, which runs all over Eastern Europe. She finished in the top ten in nine of her twelve races, with a fifth places at the Sachsenring being her best result. She was tenth in the championship. In another VW Golf, she has also tried endurance racing, joining the KPM Racing team for the Dubai 24 Hours. She shared the car with Tom Wilson, Lucas Orrock and Javier Morcillo. They were ninth in class, and 51st overall. The next round of the 24 Hour series was a 12-hour race at Mugello, and Gosia drove a similar Golf, for the R6 Motorsport team. She was sixth in class, 37th overall, driving as part of an all-Polish team.

In Germany, she took part in the successor to the Scirocco-R Cup, the Audi Sport TT Cup. She was not as competitive in the Audi as she was in the Golf, and managed one eighth place, at the Red Bull Ring, as her best result. She was also ninth three times. The rest of her finishes are much lower down the order, and she was twelfth overall.

She continued to be based in Germany in 2016. A second season in the Audi Sport TT Cup was productive, and she scored her first podium finish, at the Nurburgring. This was augmented by two more top-five positions, on the way to a championship eighth. Perhaps with an eye on the future, she started racing in the TCR touring car series. She drove an Engstler-run Golf at Hockenheim in the German championship, and was nineteenth and eighth in her two races. At the end of the season, she travelled to Portugal and did two more guest spots in the Portuguese series, driving a Honda Civic for the Target team. She was seventh and third.

2017 started with the Dubai 24 Hours. She drove a TCR-spec SEAT Leon, as part of a five-driver team. They were 52nd overall and third in class.

For some of the rest of the year, she used a different TCR car in the ADAC TCR Championship, an Audi RS3. This was rather a frustrating experience; she managed one sixth place at Zandvoort, but spent the rest of the season either not finishing, or struggling outside the top twenty. She did not take part in the last two races of the year, and went back to the Audi TT Cup, in which she enjoyed a full season. Her best finishes were a pair of second places in the first rounds at Hockenheim and she was a regular top-ten finisher. This gave her a sixth place overall. 

The Audi TT Cup finished after the 2017 season, but Gosia continued to be associated with the Audi marque. She was one of the winners of the GT4 class of the 2018 Dubai 24 Hour GT race, driving an R8 LMS with an Anglo-Asian team. They were 26th overall.

Still on an endurance theme, Gosia then travelled to the USA to take part in the Daytona 24 Hours. She was part of an all-girl team for the supporting IMSA Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge, with Ashley Freiberg. They were running well in class in their Audi R8, but ran into problems and finished 18th.

She continued to race the R8 in different championships in 2018. Her best results came from the Pro Am section of the GT4 European Cup, where she earned a win and a second place at the Nurburgring, with Oscar Tunjo. She also raced in GT4 series at Catalunya and Bahrain. 

2019 began again with the Dubai 24 Hours, in the R8. Gosia and her team-mates drove a Porsche 991 to second in class and 18th overall. Shortly afterwards, she was one of the 20 drivers selected for the all-female W Series. When the W season proper started, she was not one of the front-runners, ending the short season 14th overall with a best finish of sixth at Assen.

Away from the W Series, she made appearances in the ADAC GT Masters, driving an Audi R8 LMS at Hockenheim, and a round of the Baltic Touring Car championship in Riga, which she won. At the end of the season, she was invited to race in India as part of the Hyderabad BlackBirds team in the X1 Racing League. Gosia was the team's compulsory female professional. The BlackBirds scored a couple of podium finishes in the two-driver relays but did not challenge for the overall title, partly due to car problems.

Gosia has stated that her aim is still to become Poland’s first Formula One champion, following on the path begun by one of her role models, Robert Kubica. With only one full season of single-seaters behind her, this seems unlikely now, although a drive in the WTCC or the DTM is within her reach, and could bring her success. She has attempted to return to single-seaters via the all-female W Series.

(Image from

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Female Drivers in the Spa 24 Hours, 2001-present

A victorious Lilian Bryner and her Care Racing team-mates in 2004

After 2000, the Spa 24 Hours became a race for sports and GT cars. It was part of the FIA GT Championship from 2001 until the series' demise in 2009. After one year as part of the FIA GT2 European Cup, it was picked up by the Blancpain Endurance Series.
Women drivers have continued to play an important role, none more so than Lilian Bryner, who became the first female winner in 2004. In recent years, the number of female entrants has declined, but this may change in the future. Parts 1 and 2 of this list are here.

Vanina Ickx/Xavier Pompidou/Christophe Tinseau/Tim Verbergt (Porsche 996 GT3-RS) – DNF

Sylvie Delcour/Philippe Tollenaire/Loic Deman (Porsche 996 GT3-Cup) – 21st
Fanny Duchateau/Jean-François Hemroulle/Jeffrey van Hooydonk (Vertigo Streiff) – 26th
Vanina Ickx/Renaud Kuppens/David Saelens (Gillet Vertigo Streiff) – DNF
Lilian Bryner/Marco Zadra/Andrea Piccini/Jean-Denis Déletraz (Ferrari 550 Maranello) – disqualified

Lilian Bryner/Enzo Calderari/Fabrizio Gollin/Luca Capellari (Ferrari 550 Maranello) – 2nd (1st in GT class)
Sylvie Delcour/Loic Deman/Peter Scharmarch/Christian Land (Porsche 996 GT3 Cup) – 12th (1st in Class G3)
Vanina Ickx/Jean-Luc Blanchemain/Stefano Zonca/Pertti Kuismanen (Chrysler Viper GTS-R) – DNF
Paula Cook/Jacques Laffite/Neil Cunningham (Morgan Aero 8) – DNF

Lilian Bryner/Enzo Calderari/Luca Capellari/Fabrizio Gollin (Ferrari 550 Maranello) – 1st
Vanina Ickx/ Jean-François Hemroulle/Peter Wyss (Porsche 996 GT3 Cup) – 10th
Liz Halliday/Moreno Soli/Franco Groppi/Luigi Moccia (Porsche 996 GT3 Cup RSR) – 14th
Sylvie Delcour/Lino Pecoraro/Philippe Ménage/José Close (Lotus Elise) – N/C
Fanny Duchateau/Loic Deman/Marc Duez/Stéphane Lémeret (Chrysler Viper GTS-R) – DNF

Lilian Bryner/Enzo Calderari/Steve Zacchia/Frédéric Bouvy (Ferrari 550 Maranello GTS) – 4th
Vanina Ickx/ Jean-François Hemroulle/Heinz-Josef Bermes/Helmut Reis (Porsche 911 GT3) – DNF
Liz Halliday/Justin Keen/Bobby Verdon-Roe/Jens Møller (Lister Storm GT) – DNF
Sylvie Delcour/Jérôme d’Ambrosio/Renaud Kuppens/Bas Leinders (Gillet Vertigo Streiff) – DNF

Sarah Bovy/Bas Leinders/Renaud Kuppens (Giller Vertigo Streiff) – DNF

Catherine Dèsbrueres/Daniel Dèsbrueres/Eric Hélary/Vincent Radermecker (Ferrari F430) – DNF

Claudia Hürtgen/Edward Sandström/Dirk Werner (BMW Z4 GT3) – 2nd

Michela Cerruti/Tom Coronel/Stefano Colombo/Edoardo Liberati (BMW Z4 GT3) – DNF
Sarah Bovy/Marlène Broggi/ Jérôme Thiry/Massimo Vagliani (McLaren MP4-12C) – DNF

Rahel Frey/Matt Halliday/Nikolaus Mayr-Meinhof (Audi R8 LMS) – DNF
Sarah Bovy/Michael Schmetz/Pierre Grivegnée/Bert Redant (Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3) – DNF
Michela Cerruti/Stefano Comandini/Luca Rangoni (BMW Z4 GT3) – DNF
Marlène Broggi/Christophe de Fierlant/Karim Ojjeh/Laurent Pasquali (McLarenMP4-12C) – DNF

Michela Cerruti/Stefano Comandini/Stefano Colombo/Eugenio Amos (BMW Z4 GT3) – 35th
Marlène Broggi/Pierre Hirschi/Philippe Richard/Philippe Bourgeois (Ferrari 458 Italia GT3) – 39th

Michela Cerruti/Loris Spinelli/Cedric Sbirazuolli/Gilles Vannelet (Lamborghini Huracan GT3) - 28th

Sarah Bovy/Giorgio Maggi/Jurgen Krebs/Clement Mateau (Lamborghini Huracan GT3) - 31st

Sarah Bovy/Beniamino Caccia/Andrew Haryanto/Andres Josephsohn (Lamborghini Huracan GT3) - 47th

Christina Nielsen/Richard Heistand/David Fumanelli/Jack Hawksworth (Mercedes-AMG GT3) - 32nd
Angelique Detavernier/Loic Deman/Stephane Lemeret/Marc Duez (Porsche Cup MR) - N/C

(Image from

Female Drivers in the Spa 24 Hours, 1974-2000

Henny Hemmes and Huub Vermeulen

The Spa 24 Hours ran continuously throughout the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. From 1974 to 1981, it was part of the Trophée de l'Avenir, with one "guest spot" as an ETCC race in 1976. In 1981, it was also included in the World Endurance Championship, before switching back to an ETCC event in 1982. From 1989 to 2000, it was still a touring car race, but not part of a major championship. During this time, female drivers featured in every race, and scored many good finishes. Henny Hemmes was the queen of Spa at this time, racing in the 24 hours fourteen times, with a best finish of second. The first part of this list can be found here

Yvette Fontaine/Claude Bourgoignie (Ford Capri II) – DNF

Yvette Fontaine/”Pedro” (BMW 3.0 CSi) – 2nd
Christine Beckers/Jenny Birrell/Marianne Hoepfner (Triumph Dolomite) – 24th

Henny Hemmes/Loek Vermeulen (Toyota Celica GT) – 21st
Yvette Fontaine/Stuart Graham/Reine Wisell (Chevrolet Camaro) – DNF

Henny Hemmes/Loek Vermeulen/Huub Vermeulen (Chevrolet Camaro Z28) – 6th

Henny Hemmes/Loek Vermeulen/Hans Deen (Chevrolet Camaro Z28) – DNF
Christine Beckers/Daniel Rombaut/Huub Nijsten (Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTV) – DNF
Lella Lombardi/Thierry Boutsen/Marc Duez (Toyota Sprinter Tueno) – DNF

Henny Hemmes/Loek Vermeulen (Chevrolet Camaro Z28) – 18th
Christine Beckers/Pascal Witmeur/Jean-Paul Libert (Chevrolet Camaro Z28) – N/C
Anny-Charlotte Verney/Jean-Pierre Delaunay/Cyril Grandet (Ford Escort II RS 2000) – DNF

Christine Beckers/Heinz-Jürgen Hoffknecht/Marc Piessens (VW Scirocco GTi) – DNF
Henny Hemmes/Loek Vermeulen/Huub Vermeulen (Chevrolet Camaro Z28) – DNF

Marianne Hoepfner/Derek Bell/Alain Cudini/Jean-Louis Trintigant (BMW 530i) – 7th
Henny Hemmes/Loek Vermeulen (Chevrolet Camaro Z28) – DNF
Anny-Charlotte Verney/Jean-Louis Schlesser/Alain Ferté (Ford Capri III) – DNF
Kathy Rude/Quirin Bovy/Jean-Claude Lagniez (Chevrolet Camaro Z28) – DNF

Lella Lombardi/Tony Palma/Marcello Gallo (Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTV6) – 12th
Henny Hemmes/Loek Vermeulen/Huub Vermeulen (Chevrolet Camaro) – DNF

Henny Hemmes/Fred Frankenhout/Hans van der Beek (Mazda RX-7) – 14th
Lella Lombardi/Roberto Marazzi/Giancarlo Naddeo (Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTV6) – DNF

Henny Hemmes/Břetislav Enge (BMW 635 CSi) – 11th
Lella Lombardi/Giorgio Francia/”Tango” (Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTV6) – 16th (1st in Division 2)

Lella Lombardi/Rinaldo Drovandi/”Spiffero” (Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTV6) – DNF
Annette Meeuvissen/Arno Wester/Jörg van Ommen (Ford Escort RS 1600i) – result unknown

Lella Lombardi/Rinaldo Drovandi/Roberto Castagna (Alfa Romeo 75) – 8th
Anny-Charlotte Verney/Chantal Grimard/Henny Hemmes (Toyota Corolla GT) – 25th

Annette Meeuvissen/Mercedes Stermitz/Gerrit van Kouwen (BMW M3) – 7th

Ellen Lohr/Frank Schmickler/Michael Bartels (BMW M3) – 7th
Patricia Bertapelle/Valentin Bertapelle/Freddy Fruhauf (BMW 635 CSi) – 24th
Kaori Okamoto/Kaoru Hoshino/Keiichi Suzuki (Toyota Corolla GTi) – N/C
Jenny van Hilten/Evert Bolderheij/ Bernard Winderickx (Ford Sierra RS 500) – DNF
Henny Hemmes/Claude Holvoet/Eddy van Esch (Toyota Corolla GTi) – DNF

Kaori Okamoto/Morio Nitta/Hideshi Matsuda (Toyota Corolla GT) – 12th
Jenny van Hilten/Bram van Hilten/Philips (Honda Civic) – 34th

Ellen Lohr/Altfrid Heger/Patrick Slaus/Franz Engstler (BMW M3) – 5th
Anny-Charlotte Verney/Hideo Fukuyama/Naoki Hattori (Nissan Skyline GT-R) – 12th
Henny Hemmes/Peter Seikel/Stanislao de Angelis (Honda Civic V-Tec) – 19th (1st in Class N2)
Kaori Okamoto/Morio Nitta/Patrick Snijers (Toyota Corolla GT) – DNF

Kaori Okamoto/Naoki Nagasaka/Phil Dowsett (Toyota Corolla GT) – 20th
Henny Hemmes/Dagmar Suster/Lothar Schörg (Honda Civic V-Tec) – 21st
Giovanna Amati/Patrick de Radigues/François Turco (Peugeot 309 GTi) – DNF

Annette Meeuvissen/Marc Gindorf/Heiner Weis (BMW M3) – 17th
Henny Hemmes/Astrid Hild/Thomas Müller (Honda Civic V-Tec) – 23rd (1st in Class NB1.6)
Kaori Okamoto/Morio Nitta/Suzuki (Toyota MR-2) – 24th
Jutta Kleinschmidt/André Carlier/D. Phillips (BMW M5) – N/C
Junko Mihara/Masahiro Matsunaga/Hideo Uehara (Toyota MR-2) – DNF

Lilian Bryner/Enzo Calderari/Luigino Pagotto (Porsche 911 Carrera RS) – 9th
Kaori Okamoto/Morio Nitta/Keiichi Suzuki (Toyota MR-2) – DNF

Kumi Sato/Daniel Brillat/Patrick Bastiaens (Honda Civic V-Tec) – 13th
Junko Mihara/Satoshi Yamaguchi/Masahiro Matsunaga (Toyota Corolla) – 16th
Florence Duez/Blaton/Alain Thiebaut (Renault Clio) – 18th
Kaori Okamoto/Morio Nitta/Keiichi Suzuki (Toyota Carina E) – DNF
Kate Rafanelli/Didier Stassart/Benoit Galand (BMW 325i) – DNF

Florence Duez/Paul Grutman/Michel Schmitz (Renault Clio) – 18th
Junko Mihara/Michiko Okuyama/Kumi Sato (Toyota Corolla) – 19th
Katja Müller/Dietmar Konopka/Torsten Neuenbölen (Renault Clio) – DNF

Kate Rafanelli/Yolanda Surer/Florence Duez (BMW M3) – 4th (1st in Spa 3.0 class)
Isolde Holderied/Freddy Loix/Renaud Verreydt (Toyota Carina GTi) – 8th
Vanina Ickx/Christian Jupsin/Pascal Tillekaerts (Honda Civic VTi) – 16th
Sylvie Delcour/Michel Lambermont/Bernard Dethier (Nissan Sunny GTi) – DNF
Heather Spurle/B. Lawrence/Luff (Peugeot 306 16S) – DNF

Tamara Vidali/Yvan Muller/Brad Jones (Volkswagen Golf TDi) – 12th
Sylvie Delcour/Michel Lambermont/Frédéric Baugnée (Renault Clio Williams) – 25th
Vanina Ickx/Kate Rafanelli/Florence Duez (BMW M3) – DNF
Paula Cook/Luca Canni-Ferrari/Nicola Bertolucci (BMW M3) – DNF

Sylvie Delcour/Mathias Viaene/Frédéric Baugnée (BMW 320i) – 14th
Florence Duez/Alain Courmont/Hervé Lelong (Suzuki Baleno) – 26th
Vanina Ickx/Jacky Ickx (Renault Mégane) – DNF

Vanina Ickx/Mathias Viaene/Martial Chouvel (Renault Mégane) – 5th
Sylvie Delcour/Damien Chaballe/Etienne Baugnée (BMW 320i) – 7th

Vanina Ickx/Anthony Beltoise/Thierry van Dalen (Peugeot 306 GTi) – 3rd
Fanny Duchateau/Jean-François Hemroulle/Tim Verbergt (VW Bora TDi) – 6th (1st in SPD class)
Sylvie Delcour/Eric Jamar/Frédéric Baugnée (BMW 320i) – DNF
Catherine Liegeois/Michel Wilders/Alexandre Leens (Honda Integra Type R) – DNF

(Image from

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Female Drivers in the Spa 24 Hours, up to 1973

Elyane Imbert and Simone des Forest with their Porsche in 1953

The Spa 24 Hours has been in existence for almost as long as Le Mans, having begun the year after, in 1924. Pre-war, no female drivers made it on to the grid. 

Initially, it was a race for sports racing cars. After 1949, it did not run for a few seasons, but reappeared in 1953 as a round of the World Sportscar Championship. Following another long hiatus, it became a race for touring cars in 1964, Between 1966 and 1973, it was a round of the European Touring Car Championship. 

Listed below are the results for every female driver in the Spa 24 Hours, up to 1973. As ever, in the case of a mixed team, the woman's name comes first, for clarity. More posts will follow with the rest of the results.

Yvonne Simon/Germaine Rouault (Delahaye-Delage) – 11th (1st in 4000cc class)

Annie Bousquet/Gilberte Thirion (Fiat 1100) – 16th
Elyane Imbert/Simone des Forest (Porsche 356 Super 1500) – disqualified
Joyce Leavens/Barry Leavens (Jowett Javelin) – DNF

Claudine Bouchet/Ada Pace (Lancia Flaminia) – DNF

Yvette Fontaine/Nicole Sol (Alfa Romeo 1300 TI) – 19th

Christine Beckers/Marie-Claude Beaumont (NSU 1000 TTS) – 24th
Natalie Goodwin/Cyril Williams (Ford Lotus Cortina) – N/C
Yvette Fontaine/Jean-Marie Lagae (Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTA) – DNF
Nicole Sol/Tom Sol (Ford Lotus Cortina) – DNF

Christine Beckers/Nicole Sol (Alfa Romeo 1750 Berlina) – 23rd

Yvette Fontaine/John Fitzpatrick (Ford Escort TC) – 11th
Liane Engeman/Bob Wollek (Alfa Romeo 1750 Berlina) – 13th
Hannelore Werner/Ferfried von Hohenzollern (BMW 1600) – DNF
Christine Beckers/Jacques Demoulin (Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTA) – DNF

Christine Beckers/Liane Engeman (Alfa Romeo 2000 GTAm) – DNF

Liane Engeman/Christine Beckers (BMW 2800) – DNF
Yvette Fontaine/Hans Akersloot (Ford Escort RS 1600) – DNF
Gabriel Konig/Marie-Claude Beaumont (Chevrolet Camaro) – DNF

Christine Beckers/Jean-Claude Sola (Alfa Romeo 2000 GTV) – 15th
Yvette Fontaine/Gillian Fortescue-Thomas (Ford Escort RS 1600) – DNF
Jenny Dell/Dennis Thorne (Ford Escort TC) – did not qualify

Christine Beckers/Huub Vermeulen/Patrick Neve (Opel Commodore GS/E) – 7th
Yvette Fontaine/Frans Lubin (Ford Escort RS 1600) – DNF

(Image copyright Mike Copperthwaite)

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Paola della Chiesa

Marisa Zambrini and Paola della Chiesa, (first and second left), pose for photos with their team-mates in 1954

Paola della Chiesa mostly drove in rallies in Italy in the 1950s. She was associated most with the Lancia Aurelia, and was very successful in the women-only events of the time.

This Italian noblewoman, from Turin, competed both before and after World War II, often alongside her husband, Luigi. She began racing after her marriage, having been introduced to motorsport by her husband. Prior to this, she had not had much interest in cars.

They entered the 1938 Mille Miglia together, driving a Fiat 1100 Sport, but did not finish. Paola was acting as a navigator, with Luigi driving. Not long after this, motorsport in Europe ceased for World War II.

Once peace returned to Italy, it took a while for races and rallies to get going again. It was not long before Paola and Luigi were active once more. “Shortly after the War”, Luigi pushed Paola to enter a Concours d’Elegance. In 1949, the two entered the Coppa della Toscana, known as the “Little Mille Miglia”, together, and were thirteenth overall. The make of their car is not recorded, but it may have been a Cisitalia 202, which Paola is known to have driven. She and Maria Teresa de Filippis both entered this race, and earned much press attention, not all of it related to their driving. Some media sources have them as team-mates.

By 1951, she was driving solo. She entered the Coppa d’Oro delle Dolomiti, driving an Ermini Fiat 1100, but did not finish.

In 1952, she began racing a Lancia Aurelia, which would become a favoured car for her for the next few years. In May, she won the first edition of the Rallye Femminile Perla di Sanremo, a women-only event. Her car was a 2500cc Aurelia B20. It was not just all-female rallies she entered this year; she also drove in the Alpine Rally, in the Aurelia, but had to retire with brake failure, a rare disappointing experience with the car. Luigi was her navigator that year, and was apparently so shaken by his experiences that he did not volunteer again.

1953’s motorsport season began with another win, in the Paris-St. Raphaël women’s rally. This was the first win for an Italian driver in the event’s history. Once more, she was driving the Lancia Aurelia, which proved more reliable this time. That year, she registered for a second attempt at the Mille Miglia, sharing a Fiat 1100 with Yvonne Simon, but they did not make the start, for undisclosed reasons.

Later, in 1954, she drove a Lancia Aurelia again, in Italy. That year, she was second in class in the Aosta-Gran San Bernardo hillclimb. Paola claimed that hillclimbs were her best events. In the same car, she won the Santa Margherita-San Lorenzo climb, a women-only event. This made up for the slight disappointment of second places in both the Paris-St. Raphaël and Perla di Sanremo rallies. For the Sanremo rally, she was driving an Alfa Romeo 1900, for a change. Her navigator this year was Marisa Zambrini.

In the Aosta-Gran San Bernardo hillclimb in 1955, she was fifth in the over 2500cc class, in the Aurelia. She was also second in the Alghero-Scala Piccada women’s hillclimb, behind Gilberte Thirion in a Mercedes. In a 1991 interview, she rated Gilberte as one of her most accomplished rivals. Her last big event seems to have been the Perla di Sanremo rally, which she won for a third time, driving her faithful Aurelia.

After that, Paola stopped driving competitively, although she still retained her interest in motorsport. Luigi died in the mid-1950s, and it must have been hard for her to carry on without him, and his support. She also said that she did not particularly like the increasing professionalism of European motorsport; she had thoroughly enjoyed the vibrant social scene that surrounded the rallies of the time. Unlike some female drivers, she liked the special attention that winners of Coupes des Dames received. In 1992, she claimed to have won over a hundred of these trophies, and the assorted prizes of jewellery and other items that went with them.

(This post draws on a 1991 interview with Paola, conducted by Donatella Biffignandi of the National Motor Museum in Turin. The original Italian text can be found here.)

(Image from