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. Lucy is married to WRC driver and Gymkhana creator, Ken Block.

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 is competing again in the Yaris in 2017. As well as actually competing, Tracey runs TAG Rally Sport, her own team, and a motorsports marketing agency.  

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. 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.

(Image from www.verenamei.com)

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