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.

(Picture copyright Lara Platman)

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