Sunday, 27 September 2015

Female Rally Drivers After 1950: the USA

Verena Mei (right), with co-driver Leanne Junnila

The rally scene in the USA is growing every year, and female drivers are very much a part of that. Some of the profiles below originally came from the Rally Drivers in the Americas post. Gail Truess has her own post.

Lucy Block – first rallied in America between 2009 and 2013, initially as a co-driver. Her first rally as a driver was the Middle Cog rally in 2009, swapping seats with Christine Beavis. Her car was a VW Golf. She took the wheel again in 2010, driving a Mazda3 in the Mexico Rally and finishing 17th. She was also 19th in the LLCote Rally. A break from competition followed, but she returned in 2013, in a Ford Fiesta R2. Her best results were two fourteenth places, in the Maine and New Hampshire Rallies. After a break, she reappeared in 2015, driving a Ford Fiesta. Her best finish was eleventh, in the New Hampshire Rally. After another hiatus, she made a full-time comeback in 2018. She contested the ARA rally championship in the States and earned her first top-ten finish in the New England Forest Rally. Her car was a Fiesta R2T. In 2019, she made a small comeback and drove the Fiesta in the 100 Acre Wood Rally. She was 24th overall. Lucy is married to WRC driver and Gymkhana creator, Ken Block.

Renee Brinkerhoff - US historic rally driver who drives a Porsche 356. She has tackled two editions of the Carrera Panamericana in this car, in 2014 and 2015. She was 18th in 2014, after a 678km rally across Mexico which only about half of the field finished. Her final position in 2015 was 41st. In 2019, she travelled to Kenya for the East African Classic Safari. She was fifteenth overall after being allowed to restart under SuperRally rules. Only six cars finished every stage.

Keanna Erickson-Chang - American driver who has rallied extensively in her domestic championship and is now making trips to Europe. She began her career in ice racing and autocross in 2013, before moving into stage rallies. Her main rally car until 2018 was an R1-spec Ford Fiesta, which she started rallying in 2015. Her best results in 2016, her first full season, were two eleventh places in the Olympus and New England Forest rallies. She broke into the top ten for the first time in 2017, finishing ninth in Rally Wyoming and winning her class. She earned five top-ten finishes in 2018, the best of these being an eighth place in the Muscatell Ojibwe Forest Rally, in front of the experienced Travis Pastrana. The Fiesta was upgraded to R2 spec in 2019 and she also tried out a Renault Clio for two rounds of the French Clio R3T championship: the Vosges and Lyon-Charbonnieres events. She is entered into the 2019 Wales Rally GB in the Fiesta.

Tracey Gardiner - driver from the United States, who began rallying in earnest in 2013, despite being in her 40s. Initially, she drove a Subaru Impreza in the two-part Sno*Drift Central Regional Rally, and was 17th and eleventh on the twin events. In April, she took delivery of a Toyota Yaris, and promptly won the Production class in the Wagons Ho! Rally. She was 42nd overall. That year, in the Yaris, she managed three more class wins, in the Trail’s End, Ottawa and Lac Vieux rallies. Her best overall finish was 16th, achieved twice, in the New England Forest and Lake Superior Rallies. She was 32nd in the Rally America championship. 2014 was a shorter season, as the Yaris, nicknamed “Jellybean” was damaged during the Susquehannock Trail Rally, in May. Tracey returned in October for the Lake Superior Rally, and scored her best finish of the year, fourteenth, and second in class. She was 25th in the championship. In 2015, still driving the little Yaris, she was 18th in the Rally America championship, with three thirteenth places in the Oregon Trail, Lake Superior and Olympus Rallies. After a break of a year, she competed again in the Yaris in 2017. She was 20th in the Rally America championship, and earned a twelfth place in the Rally of Wyoming. In 2018, she continued with the Yaris and picked up 17th spots in the Blazing Saddles and Prospectors Run Rallies. Her only event in 2019 was the 100 Acre Wood Rally and she was 29th in the Yaris. As well as actually competing, Tracey runs TAG Rally Sport, her own team, and a motorsports marketing agency.  

Jennifer Imai - rallied a Suzuki Swift in the Rally America championship between 2006 and 2013. She started in shorter rallysprints, but moved into stage rallies fairly quickly. The first of these for her was the 2006 Desert Storm Rally. After a tough 2010, in which she did not finish many events, she broke into the top ten in 2011, in the South West division. She was fifth in the Desert Storm Rally and ninth in the Mendocino Rally. Her best finishes since then have been a trio of twelfth places in 2013, in the Mendocino, Bear Valley and High Desert Trails events. Since then, financial issues have kept her off the stages, although she appears to have done some co-driving and perhaps some engineering since. Next to Verena Mei, she is the only Asian-American female rally driver.

Verena Mei - American driver who started out as part of the import scene, competing in drifting as well as promo modelling. In recent years, she has moved into mainstream motorsport, and is active in the US rally championship. She took up rallying in 2011, undertaking training before driving competitively. Her first event was the Sno*Drift Rally in 2011, as a navigator to Wyatt Knox. In 2012, she started driving herself, in a Ford Fiesta. She achieved some good class finishes, and even won the B-Spec National Championship, as well as finishing fourth in the 2WD standings. In 2013, she carried on with the Fiesta, run by the Truecar team and partly supported by Ford themselves. With her usual co-driver, Leanne Junnila, she finished five of her six events, with a best result of twelfth, in the Ojibwe Forests Rally. She was 20th overall in the US championship.  

Christy Nelson – rallied in the Rally America championship between 2010 and 2013. Her first car was a Nissan Sentra, and she was second in her first event, the Nocona Rally Stomp. In 2012, after a couple of seasons of solid results, she upgraded to a Subaru Impreza WRX, and had a best finish of fourth, in the 100 Acre Wood Rally. 2013 was a strong year, with four class podiums, the best of these being a second, in the Drift Regional Rally. She was 20th overall. Prior to taking up rallying, Christy was a successful club rallycross competitor, winning SCCA championships in 2008 and 2011.

Lavinia Roberts – American driver who entered the World Cup Rally in 1970, which ran from London to Mexico. Her car was a Ford Mustang, and she was part of a three-driver team with David Jones and Arthur Hazelrigg. They did not finish. In 1971, she is on the entry list for the Southern Cross International Rally in Australia, but no further details are forthcoming.

Amanda Skelly – rallies a 1998 Subaru Impreza in her regional Rally America championship. She began in 2012, in the SnoDrift Rally. She returned to the event in 2013, finishing 19th overall. Her best finish that year was twelfth, in the Drift Central Rally. In 2014, she earned another two top-twenty finishes in the Sno and Drift Rallies. Her 2015 programme was similar, with her best finish being 14th, in the SnoCentral Rally. As well as driving, In 2016, she rallied a Subaru Impreza in Rally America's Central division. Her best finish was thirteenth, in the New Hampshire Rally. She entered the New England Forest Rally in 2017, but this was mainly to try out a new version of the Impreza. The car came out for a full season in 2018 and she excelled in rallysprints, finishing third in the Eastern Tennessee event. She had a standout performance in the 2019 Sandblast Rally, finishing fifth. Amanda also co-drives on occasion, and she and her 2015 navigator, Ian Kessel, have taken turns in both seats. Her team is called Noble Star Rally and includes her sister, Desiray, among its members. Desiray was her first co-driver.

Kristen Tabor - rallies a Subaru Impreza in Rally America events. She is from a family of rally drivers, and she is normally co-driven by her mother, Janice. She began rallying the Impreza in 2012. In her second season in the car, she was eighth in the Mendocino and Bear Valley Stages rallies, which helped her to second in class in the Rally America North West Division. In 2016, she was ninth in the North West standings, and class L champion. Her best result was fifth, in the Shunpiker Stages. She drove the Impreza again in 2017, but was not as successful. She did not reach the top twenty in any of her six rallies, although she secured two second places in class. In 2018, she earned three top-twenty finishes in the latter part of the year, the best of these probably being a 16th in the Tour de Forest Regional Rally, as she picked up class second. Her best finish in 2019 was an excellent third place in the Dirtfish Regional Rally, from 22 finishers. Prior to owning the Impreza, she rallied an Acura RSX, in which she won class championships in 2010 and 2011. She has been active in the sport since the 1990s.

(Image from

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Naomi Schiff

Naomi with the KTM X-Bow in 2015

Naomi Schiff is a Belgium-based South African driver. She is one of the most cosmopolitan speedqueens on this site, with a Belgian father and a Rwandan mother. She spent much of her childhood in South Africa, where she began racing. Currently, she competes under the South African flag, although she has previously raced on a Belgian license.

Naomi’s father raced himself when he was younger, but he did not push her into motorsport. She caught the racing bug at a karting birthday party held by a friend. By the age of twelve, she was racing her own kart.

Following a successful kart career in South Africa, she moved up to Formula Volkswagen in 2010, still only aged 16. She did six races, with a best finish of sixth, and was 17th overall.
Her Formula Volkswagen season was accompanied by some more karting, and she continued to race karts, with some success, in 2011. At this time, she was studying for exams, and also modelling, in addition to her racing activities.

After that, she moved to Belgium, and raced a Norma M20 in four rounds of the Belgian Special Open Trophy, managing a second in her first race, with no testing beforehand. She was also fifth and sixth at Spa. Unfortunately, the owner of the team for which she was driving vanished, and took all of her sponsor money with him. This was the end of her season.

A period on the sidelines followed, and she used this as an opportunity to finish her education. She decided afterwards to decamp from South Africa to Belgium full-time, and to pursue motor racing as a career. This was the end of her modelling days, and she was now on the lookout for sponsorship and racing opportunities.

She reappeared in 2013, racing in different machinery in different parts of the world. She was back in a Radical for two rounds of the Dutch Supercar Challenge, giving her another two sixth places, after making a guest appearance at the Motorland meeting of the Formula Renault Eurocup. She was less successful there, with one 34th place. A chance meeting then led to a new career direction; she was due to test a Lamborghini Gallardo for the Reiter Engineering team, but when she arrived, a customer had already claimed the car. Later that day, she met the driver, a Chinese racer and team owner. When Naomi explained that the drive she was testing for had been taken, the team owner offered her his own race seat, in the Clio Cup in China. So it was off to Southeast Asia, which was a good move. She won her second Chinese Clio Cup race, after coming second in her first, against experienced local drivers, at Chengdu. At Guangdong, she picked up another win, but did not finish her other race. In between, she did two Asian Formula Renault races, and was sixth and seventh at Zhuhai. Whilst in China, she guested in some rounds of the Scirocco-R Cup there, with at least one second place. Late in the northern hemisphere season, she was one of the twelve entrants in the VW Scirocco-R Shootout for female drivers, held in Germany. Lucile Cypriano was the eventual winner.

She intended to compete in the North Europe Formula Renault series in 2014, but this fell through. She returned to the Chinese Clio Cup, invited back by her 2014 team, and won it convincingly, with four victories. In Europe, she competed in the Zolder 24 Hours, in a Wolf GB08 sportscar, and was seventh overall, with Jonathan Pizzuti, Kurt Thiers and Guglielmo Belotti.  

In 2015, she worked with Reiter Engineering again, driving a KTM X-Bow in the Nova GT4 Euro Series. She entered the championship for the Slovakiaring round, with Reinhard Kofler, and was rewarded with a third place and a win. She has also achieved two fourth places at the Red Bull Ring. As well as the GT4 Series, Naomi also drove a Lamborghini Gallardo for the Reiter team at last, in the GT Sports Club series for “gentlemen” drivers.

She competed in the GT4 series in again in 2016, in a Reiter-prepared KTM X-Bow. She only did a part-series, with her best finish being a seventh place, at Pau.

In 2017, she began the year with a run in the Dubai 24 Hours, in the X-Bow. She was part of an all-female team with Marylin Nierderhauser, Anna Rathe and Caitlin Wood. They ran as high as fourth in their class, but a collision with another car put them out of the running. They just made it to the end, in 72nd place.

Most of her season was spent in a slightly different all-female team, but with the same car. She raced in the GT4 European Series, usually with Marylin Niederhauser and once with Caitlin Wood, for RYS Team WP. The season was not a huge success and the team did not do the whole calendar. Being disqualified from the opening round at Misano did not help. Naomi did not receive a radio message from the team informing her of a drive-through penalty due to a too-early driver change.

Her best result was a sixth place at the Slovakiaring. Naomi was 28th in the championship individually, with two points fewer than Marylin.

She did not do as much racing in 2018 as in previous years. In May, she drove the X-Bow in the Nurburgring 24 Hours with Laura Kraihamer, Lena Strycek and Rahel Frey. They were second in class and 39th overall. Later in the year, she teamed up with Laura and the True Racing regulars for the Catalunya round of the 24H Series. They were second in class again and ninth overall.

Naomi was signed with the Reiter team, who run the Lamborghini and KTM works sportscar teams, as a junior driver. This araangement appears to have come to an end in 2019. 

At the start of 2019 she was accepted as one of the 20 W Series drivers and raced around Europe in a regional F3 during the summer. Her time out of a single-seater was somewhat evident and she was not one of the quicker drivers in the series, earning a best finish of tenth on-track and 16th in the championship, missing the cut for automatic entry in the 2020 W Series. 

(Image copyright KTM)

Monday, 21 September 2015

Corinne Koppenhague (Tarnaud)

Corinne, left, with Bob Wollek and Jacques Rey in 1970

Corinne Koppenhague was a versatile French racer, probably best known for coming 11th at Le Mans in a Porsche Carrera in 1975, as Corinne Tarnaud. Her team-mates were Yvette Fontaine and Anny-Charlotte Verney.

Her motorsport journey began in 1968 or 1969, depending upon which source one trusts. Her cousin, Marie-Claire Cibié (Beaulieu), had been involved in events like the Tour de France, and Corinne had become friends with some of the young guns of French motor racing, including Jacques Laffite and Jean-Pierre Jabouille. Her first practical experience of a motor race was when she helped out in the pits at the Reims 12 Hours, working for Sylvain Garant. This spurred her on to start her own competition career. In 1969, she co-drove for Marie-Pierre Palayer in the Critérium des Cévennes, in a BMW. They won the Coupe des Dames.

In the 1970 Critérium des Cévennes, she navigated for Bob Wollek, and helped him to second place in his Porsche 911. She shared a similar car with Thierry Sabine for the AGACI 300 at Montlhéry, but the result has been lost. Her performance on the Critérium des Cévennes was enough to win her the French Coupe des Dames for co-drivers. She also drove herself in some French rallies, in the Porsche, at Chataigne and Poitou.

By 1971, she had moved more fully into the driving seat. Her biggest event of the year was the Tour de France, which she had entered in a Porsche 911. Her co-driver was Christine Rouff, later a key member of Team Aseptogyl, and they had a third team member in the shape of a tortoise, which slept in the Porsche’s glove box and was fed by the mechanics. Corinne and her team were 27th out of 49 finishers, and ninth in the 2000cc GT class. Navigation had not been completely left behind: she sat beside Francine Warein in a Simca for the Morocco Rally. At some point, she also co-drove for Christine Dacremont in an Opel Kadett, perhaps this year.
In 1972, she stepped away from Porsches temporarily, and drove an Alfa Romeo 2000 GT. She did not finish this year’s Tour de France due to engine failure, but was 32nd in the Ronde Cévenole. She was still active in French rallies in the Porsche, and entered that year’s Paris-St. Raphaël Rally

She did not compete in 1973. It was this year that she married, and thereafter, raced under the name Tarnaud or Koppenhague-Tarnaud. She was eighth in the 1974 Paris-St. Raphaël, driving an Alfa Romeo 2000. Another run in the Ronde Cévenole led to an 18th place, out of 33 drivers, and she was 27th in the Tour de France, in an Alfa Romeo again. Her team-mate for the Tour was a Madame Hoube, who had co-driven for her in rallies previously.

1975 was the year of her Le Mans adventure. She was part of an all-female team, led by Anny-Charlotte Verney, whose Porsche 911 Carrera RS they drove. Anny-Charlotte was another regular on the French racing and rally scene. Yvette Fontaine, the third team member, was also multi-talented, and from Belgium. They were the better of the two all-female teams that year, and were second in the Series GT class. She teamed up with Christine Beckers at Zolder, driving a Triumph Dolomite, and even made the trip out to Sweden, to race a Volvo in a one-make cup there. She was all set to drive in another Tour de France, too, but the death of her intended team-mate, “Charlotte”, in a road traffic accident, meant that she dropped out.
She attempted to qualify for Le Mans again in 1976, driving a TOJ SC204 with Jacky Haran and Jacques Marquet. They were not successful.

She was certainly still involved in stage rallying in 1976, and was part of one of the later incarnations of Team Aseptogyl. She drove a little Autobianchi A110 in the Monte Carlo Rally for the team, although she does not appear to have finished. She may well have rallied elsewhere in the pink A110, as she appears in Aseptogyl publicity material for that season. She entered the Mont Blanc Rally that year, but crashed out. As well as the Aseptogyl car, she also drove an Alpine-Renault 1800.

1977 was mostly spent away from motorsport, “resting”, as Corinne claimed in a contemporary interview in Echappement. In 1978, she raced an Alfasud in a European one-make series, finishing third at Albi, and setting a lap record in the process.

After 1978, she became more and more involved in rally raids, first on motorcycles, then on four wheels. In 1979, she entered the first Paris-Dakar Rally, on a motorbike, one of seven female riders making history that year. She rode a Suzuki, but did not finish. The following year, she moved into the car class, in a Willys Jeep. This led to another non-finish. She attempted the Dakar another eight times, once more on a motorcycle in 1985. Her last try was in 1988, when she drove a Land Rover. Her other vehicles included a Range Rover, a Jeep Hotchkiss in 1981 and a Toyota pickup in 1982.

After her retirement from active motorsport in 1988, she has remained involved in competitive sport. She still rides motorcycles recreationally, and skis competitively, despite her advancing age.

(Image copyright Michelle Wollek)

Friday, 18 September 2015

Ekaterina Stratieva

Ekaterina at the 2014 Acropolis Rally

Ekaterina Stratieva is a Bulgarian driver who competes in the European Rally Championship (ERC). She has won two European Ladies’ Championships.

Her family were motorsport fans, and she was a spectator at the circuits from a young age. When she was 21, she took her first steps towards a competition career of her own, starting with hillclimbs and club circuit racing in a Suzuki Swift. She began rallying in 2006, at the age of 24, driving a Citroen Saxo in Bulgarian events. This was a brave step, and Ekaterina claims herself that being “Bulgarian and blonde” is not an ideal start to an international rally career. Not one to shy away from a challenge, one of her first rallies was the Rally of Bulgaria itself, then a European championship round. She was 25th, and third in class. Her best result came from the Rally Victory Sofia, in which she was 22nd, fifth in class. As well as rallies, she spent some time competing in hillclimbs in Bulgaria, winning a class championship. She used her rally car.

Her second year of rally competition, 2007, was spent in the Bulgarian championship. The Saxo was run all year by Astra Racing. Ekaterina steadily improved her rally performances, and had five top-twenty finishes. The best of these was thirteenth in the YU Rally, which was part of the Bulgarian championship, despite being held in Serbia. In the Rally Bulgaria, she was the winner of class N2, and was 24th. Her first rally outside the Bulgarian championship, the Saturnus Rally in Slovenia, ended in a retirement on the first stage. She was 21st in the Bulgarian championship. Away from rallying, she won another class championship in the Saxo, in the Bulgarian hillclimb championship.

In 2008, she drove a Citroen C2 R2 in rallies the Bulgarian championship. This year, she did not finish as many rallies as previously, but her final positions kept improving. She scored the first top-ten of her career, a sixth place in the Victory Rally Sofia, then followed it up with a tenth place in the Rally Tvardica, at the end of the season. Her performances were enough to get her a Pirelli Star award, which gained her entry to the ERC rounds in Italy, Croatia and Bulgaria for 2009.

She ran quite well in her three Pirelli Star rallies: she was 45th in the Mille Miglia in Italy, 19th in Croatia (with a class second) and 20th in the Rally of Bulgaria itself. Her year was more international than ever before, with an entry into the Barum Czech Rally as well as the Bulgarian championship. She was 52nd in the Czech Rally. The Bulgarian championship was a happier hunting ground; she was tenth in the Serbia Rally, and won class A6 in the Trayanovi Vrata and Vida rallies. Her finishing positions were twelfth and thirteenth respectively. She was second in class in the Bulgarian championship, and was never out of the top twenty.

Despite her partnership with her long-term co-driver, Rumen Manolov, ending after the 2009 season, Ekaterina continued to improve in 2010. She began the year with two gravel rallies in Greece, the Halkidiki Rallysprint and the Rally Thermaikou, finishing a competent thirteenth and 19th. A rare mechanical fault put her and the Citroen out of the Serbia Rally, then she was excluded from the Rally of Bulgaria, for a technical infringement. A somewhat disappointing Czech Rally and another retirement, from the Rally Sliven, then gave way to two top-ten finishes. She was eighth in the Rally Tvardica, and then fourth in the Hebros Rally, with a class win. This was enough to score her a second in class for the championship.

2011 was very international in nature for Ekaterina. She spent quite a lot of time competing in Romania. Her best finishes were two 22nd places, in the Clujului and Iaşului rallies. Elsewhere, she managed a class win in the Croatia Rally, finishing 18th overall, and a sixth in the Rally Tvardica. Her 19th place in the Yalta Rally in the Ukraine, an IRC event, gave her a class second. At the end of the year, she was second in class in the Romanian championship, and was also named their female driver of the year. She also gained a new navigator, Carmen Poenaru, who is also Romanian. Their first rally together was the Rallye du Var in France, in which they were 91st, in the Citroen.

In 2012, her season was split between the Eastern European and western European rallies, in the C2. She entered five rounds of the IRC, in the Canary Islands, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Ukraine. Her best finish was eighth, in the Yalta Rally. She was also eleventh in the Rally Sliven, the Bulgarian round. Rally Bulgaria itself, an ERC round this year, gave her a ninth place, second in class. She was tenth in the Sredna Gora Rally, and won her class. That year, she also rallied in Romania and Switzerland, although she did not finish the Rallye du Valais. She was third in the Bulgarian championship, third in the 2WD class of the ERC (sixth overall), and won their unofficial Coupe des Dames. Her performances in international rallies earned her the Richard Burns Award.

2013 was a mixed year. She entered rallies across Europe, with two eighteenth positions, in the Hebros Rally and the Açores City Rally Show, her best finishes. She was also 21st in the Tour de Corse, part of that year’s ERC. A couple of accidents, in the SATA Rallye Açores and the Sibiu Rally Romania, may have knocked her confidence. She was not quite on form, and lost her European Ladies’ crown to the Australian, Molly Taylor.

Her 2014 schedule was similar, taking in the European Rally Trophy, including the Açores, Ypres and Czech Barum Rallies. Her best result was 22nd, in the Acropolis Rally. She was 38th in the ERC Production Cup. Of interest this year were two drives in a Subaru Impreza, in the Acropolis Rally and the Rally Liepāja, in Latvia. She finished the Acropolis Rally in 22nd, but the engine failed in Latvia. She spent the rest of the season in her trusty Citroen C2. One consolation was her first official ERC Ladies’ Trophy.

Her 2015 season continued in the same vein. She had a shorter schedule, and was committed to ERC rallies. Her co-driver this year was Julianna Nyírfás, from Hungary, a highly-experienced ERC navigator. Her best finish was 27th, in the Circuit of Ireland, and she was also 28th in the Brasov Rally in Romania. As before, she mainly stuck with the C2, but experimented with bigger cars. She drove the Impreza again in the Bosphorus Rally, but did not finish. A drive in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX in the Barum Czech Rally gave her a 48th place, which was not spectacular, but enough to net her another Coupe des Dames. She ended the season as the Ladies’ champion once more.

In 2016, she did not defend her ERC Ladies' title. She competed less than before, around Europe, although she did pick up an ERC Coupe des Dames in the Barum Rally, in a C2. She was 57th overall. 

2017 looked quite similar. She drove the C2 in some Balkan rallies, and picked up a few ERC Ladies' points via her participation in the Barum Czech Rally Zlin. Her best finish was fourteenth in the Rally Sliven, a Bulgarian rally.

She only did one major rally in 2018, the Barum event. Her car was a Hyundai i20 and she finished in 65th place. She was one of six female drivers contesting the rally.

Despite a relatively short rally schedule in 2019, Ekaterina regained her ERC Ladies' title in 2019. She drove a Peugeot 208 R2 and had a best ERC finish of 28th on Rally Hungary, third in the ERC3 class.

Away from the ERC, she entered the Ihtiman Rallysprint in Bulgaria and was seventh overall.

(Image from

Monday, 14 September 2015

Jill Scott-Thomas

Jill in 1938

Jill was a British racer of the late 1920s and early 1930s. She was born Eileen May Fountain in 1902, and was the daughter of a coal mine owner. Her entry into motorsport came via her first husband, William “Bummer” Scott, who was a regular at Brooklands and lived next door.
She competed at Brooklands between 1926, when she entered her first trial, and 1939.

1928 was the year when Jill really made her mark on the motor racing scene. She became one of the first women to be awarded the Brooklands 120mph badge, to be displayed on the front of her car. This was given to her after she lapped the circuit at the requisite speed in September, driving an ex-Grand Prix Sunbeam that she and Bummer owned jointly. She was also elected to membership of the BARC, but this offer was downgraded to honorary membership; the BARC was a conservative association and had only recently allowed women drivers to enter its sanctioned meetings. Jill was the first woman suggested for membership.

At about this time, she attempted to race the ex-J.G. Parry-Thomas Leyland Eight, which she and Bummer had bought after the death of their friend and mentor. Although the car was nominally hers, and she was actually quite skilled in handling very large cars, it defeated her. Her main Brooklands experience in it was riding as a passenger with John Cobb, who raced the car on her behalf. They also owned the Thomas “Flatiron” special, which Jill is said to have driven, but no results are forthcoming.

In 1929, she entered her first big international race, driving a 4.5 litre Bentley with Bummer. It was the JCC Double Twelve race, and the Scotts were eleventh overall, from 26 finishers. Just a week later, Jill won a Brooklands ladies’ handicap, driving a Delage, after Miss Burnett was judged to have jumped the start.

The following year, she tried her hand at the Double Twelve once more, in a Riley Brooklands 9. She and her team-mate, Ernest Thomas, were sixth, a very pleasing result. Jill also had another go at one of the Brooklands ladies’ handicaps in March, and was second. Her car was a Bugatti.

After the 1930 season, Jill was absent from the track for a long time. Her marriage to Bummer Scott ended, and she started a relationship with Ernest Thomas, her erstwhile Double Twelve team-mate. The pair had met whilst flying their respective planes at the Brooklands airfield (Jill had had her pilot’s license since 1927). They married, a union that lasted until Jill’s death in 1974.

As Jill Thomas, she returned to Brooklands in 1938. She drove an Alfa Romeo in the March meeting, and in the JCC International Trophy, but did not finish either of the races. In the international Ladies’ Race at Crystal Palace, held in June, she was third, in a Delahaye, behind Mrs Lace and Kay Petre. Despite her absence, and the personal upheaval she had experienced, she was still a popular figure. Madame Yevonde produced a colourised photograph of her in her distinctive red racing attire, which is now in the National Portrait Gallery.

In 1939, she mostly drove a Frazer-Nash BMW. She was second in the First March Long Handicap at Brooklands, but was disqualified from first place in the Second March Handicap, due to a coming-together with another driver. In April, she also raced a big Alfa Romeo in the Road Championship, but did not finish. She then raced at Crystal Palace again in April. Her best finish was a third place in the Second Long Scratch Race. Her last competitive outing looks to have been the Second August Mountain Handicap at Brooklands, in which she was unplaced.

After the war, Jill did not return to motorsport. Although her marriage to Ernest was a happy one, her personal life was not straightforward, particularly in regard to her eldest daughter, Sheila, whose father was Bummer Scott. After her death, her racing trophies and Brooklands 120mph badge were found in a charity shop.

(Image copyright The National Portrait Gallery)

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Women Drivers in Indycar: the championship results

Sarah Fisher and Janet Guthrie, 2002

This post lists the championship finishing position of women drivers in the USA's elite single-seater racing series, referred to in the title, for convenience, as Indycar. The championship has been run by a series of sanctioning bodies over the years. Between 1996 and 2003, two championships were held, run by rival bodies. Results for both of these have been included here.
No women at all raced in Indycar and its antecedents until the mid-1970s. Women were not even allowed in the Indianapolis pit area, in any capacity, until 1971.
Results of women drivers in the Indianapolis 500, the series' blue riband event, can be found here.

USAC National Championship
Janet Guthrie (Vollstedt-Offenhauser) – unplaced (4 races)
Arlene Hiss (Eagle-Offenhauser) – unplaced (1 race)

Janet Guthrie (Lightning-Offenhauser) – unplaced (3 races)

Janet Guthrie (Wildcat-DGS) – unplaced (1 race)

Janet Guthrie (Lola-Cosworth/Offenhauser) – 15th (3 races)

SCCA/CART Indycar Series
Janet Guthrie (Lola-Cosworth) – unplaced (1 race)

PPG Indy Car World Series
Desiré Wilson (March Cosworth)– 28th (9 races)

Desiré Wilson (March-Cosworth) – unplaced (2 races; did not qualify for either)

Desiré Wilson (March-Cosworth) – unplaced (3 races)

Lyn St. James (Lola-Chevrolet) - 30th (1 race)

Lyn St. James (Lola-Chevrolet/Ford) – unplaced (7 races)

Lyn St. James (Lola-Ford) – unplaced (1 race)

Lyn St. James (Lola-Ford) – unplaced (3 races)

Indy Racing League
Lyn St. James (Lola-Ford) – 12th (3 races)

Lyn St. James (Dallara-Infiniti) – 42nd (1 race)

Lyn St. James (G Force-Infiniti) – unplaced (1 race – did not qualify)

Sarah Fisher (Dallara-Oldsmobile) – 46th (1 race)
Lyn St. James (G Force-Oldsmobile) – unplaced (1 race – did not qualify)

Indy Racing Northern Light Series
Sarah Fisher (Riley&Scott/Dallara-Oldsmobile) – 18th (8 races)
Lyn St. James (G Force- Oldsmobile) – 49th (1 race)

Sarah Fisher (Dallara-Oldsmobile) – 19th (13 races)

Indycar Series
Sarah Fisher (G Force-Nissan) – 18th (10 races)

Sarah Fisher (Dallara-Chevrolet) – 18th (15 races)

Sarah Fisher (Dallara-Toyota) – 30th (1 race)

Danica Patrick (Panoz-Honda) – 12th (17 races)

Danica Patrick (Panoz/Dallara-Honda) – 9th (13 races)
Sarah Fisher (Dallara-Honda) – 25th (2 races)
Champ Car:
Katherine Legge (Lola-Ford) – 16th (14 races)

Danica Patrick (Dallara-Honda) – 7th (17 races)
Sarah Fisher (Dallara-Honda) – 17th (17 races)
Milka Duno (Dallara-Honda) – 20th (7 races)
Champ Car:
Katherine Legge (Panoz-Cosworth) – 15th (14 races)

Danica Patrick (Dallara-Honda) – 6th (17 races)
Milka Duno (Dallara-Honda) – 25th (11 races)
Sarah Fisher (Dallara Honda) – 34th (3 races)

Danica Patrick (Dallara-Honda) – 5th (17 races)
Milka Duno (Dallara-Honda) – 24th (9 races)
Sarah Fisher (Dallara Honda) – 25th (6 races)

Danica Patrick (Dallara-Honda) – 10th (17 races)
Simona de Silvestro (Dallara-Honda) – 19th (17 races)
Milka Duno (Dallara-Honda) – 23rd (17 races, 1 DNQ)
Sarah Fisher (Dallara Honda) – 26th (7 races)
Ana Beatriz (Dallara-Honda) – 30th (5 races)

Danica Patrick (Dallara-Honda) – 10th (16 races)
Simona de Silvestro (Dallara-Honda) – 20th (14 races)
Ana Beatriz (Dallara-Honda) – 21st (15 races)
Pippa Mann (Dallara-Honda) – 38th (3 races)

Simona de Silvestro (Dallara-Lotus) – 24th (14 races)
Katherine Legge (Dallara-Lotus/Chevrolet) – 26th (9 races)
Ana Beatriz (Dallara-Chevrolet) – 29th ( 2 races)

Simona de Silvestro (Dallara-Chevrolet) – 13th (19 races)
Ana Beatriz (Dallara-Honda) – 29th (7 races)
Pippa Mann (Dallara-Honda) – 31st (4 races)
Katherine Legge (Dallara-Honda) – 37th (1 race)

Pippa Mann (Dallara-Honda) – 33rd (1 race)

Pippa Mann (Dallara-Honda) - 29th (6 races)
Simona de Silvestro (Dallara-Honda) - 30th (3 races)

Pippa Mann (Dallara-Honda) - 29th (2 races)

Pippa Mann (Dallara-Honda) - 30th (1 race)

(Image copyright Ron McQueeney)