Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Female Drivers at the Bathurst 1000


Christine Gibson

The Bathurst 1000 is Australia’s premier home-grown motorsport event. It began in 1960 as the Armstrong 500, and was actually held at Phillip Island for the first three years.

In 1963, it moved to its present home, as an endurance race for production touring cars, on sale in Australia. Until the mid-1960s, awards were strictly class-based, with no overall results published. Gradually, the rules were relaxed, with foreign-model cars permitted, and overseas drivers, raising its profile within international motorsport. Its length was increased to 1000 kilometres in 1973.

For a long time, the race stuck to its production-car origins. In 1985, it switched to Group A rules, and was part of the ITC global touring car championship in 1987, then in the early 1990s, it became open to cars running to Super Touring spec. This created a rift with the growing V8 Supercar championship, who, due to a TV broadcast agreement at odds with that of the original Bathurst 1000, created their own in 1997. The Australia 1000 ran alongside the original race for three years, before becoming part of the V8 Supercar championship in 2000.

Women drivers have raced in the event almost from the start, and were particularly numerous in the 1960s and 1970s. Christine Gibson (Cole) is the most prolific female starter, with nine attempts to her name. She also shares the best finish for a female driver with Marie-Claude Beaumont: sixth. The best finish for an all-female team is eleventh, achieved by the “Castrol Cougars”, Kerryn Brewer and Melinda Price, in 1998.

Following the inclusion of the 1000 into the V8 Supercar calendar, female participation has reduced drastically. In 2015, the first female entrants for six years were Simona de Silvestro and Renee Gracie.  

Phillip Island (race length: 500 miles)
1962
Anne Bennett/Diane Leighton/Pam Murison (Simca Aronde) – 3rd, Class C

Mount Panorama (race length: 500 miles)
1963
Lorraine Hill/Warren Blomfield (Morris Elite) – 16th, Class B

1964
Lorraine Hill/Brian Reed (Hillman Imp) – 13th, Class A

1967
Jane Richardson/Midge Whiteman (Morris 1100S) – 36th

1968
Christine Cole/Midge Whiteman (Morris Mini) – 41st

1969
Diane Dickson/Max Dickson (Ford Cortina) – 31st
Sandra Bennett/Arthur Olsen (Morris Mini) – 36th
Carole Corness/Ann Thompson (Morris Mini) – DNF
Christine Cole/Lynne Keefe (Fiat 125) – DNF

1970
Sandra Bennett/Christine Cole (Gibson) – (Holden LC Torana) – 13th
Lynne Keefe/Arthur Olsen (Morris Mini Cooper S) – 36th
Carole Corness/Gloria Taylor (Ford Escort MkI) – 42nd

1971
Jan Holland/Pat Peck (Holden LC Torana) – 29th

1972
Christine Gibson/Jan Holland (Holden LC Torana) – DNF
Pat Peck (Holden LC Torana) – DNF

Race length: 1000 kilometres
1973
Caroline O’Shanesy/Peter Williamson (Morris Mini Cooper S) – 26th
Christine Gibson/Sue Ransom (Alfa Romeo GTV 2000) – DNF
Pat Peck/Darrilyn Huitt (Holden LJ Torana) – DNF

1975
Marie-Claude Beaumont/John Leffler (Alfa Romeo GTV 2000) – 6th
Sue Ransom/Bill Brown (Ford Escort RS2000) – 11th
Caroline O’Shanesy/David Booth (Morris Mini Cooper S) – 27th

1976
Marie-Claude Beaumont/Christine Gibson (Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTAm) – DNF
Caroline O’Shanesy/Garry Leggatt (Fiat 128 3P) – DNF

1977
Sue Ransom/Russell Skaife (Ford Capri) – DNF
Janet Guthrie/Johnny Rutherford (Holden LX Torana) – DNF

1978
Sue Ransom/Bill Brown (Ford Capri) – DNF
Robyn Hamilton/Ralph Radburn (Holden LX Torana) – DNF

1980
Sue Ransom/Neville Bridges (Holden VB Commodore) – 22nd
Alexandra Surplice/John Gates (Toyota Corolla) – 28th

1981
Christine Gibson/Joe Moore (Ford XD Falcon) – 6th
Alexandra Surplice/Doug Clark (Toyota Corolla) – DNF

1983
Christine Gibson/Bob Muir (Nissan Pulsar) – DNF

1984
Alexandra Surplice/Bob Holden (Toyota Sprinter) – 26th
Christine Gibson/Glenn Seton (Nissan Pulsar) – DNF

1987 (ITC)
Annette Meeuvissen/Mercedes Stermitz/Roland Ratzenberger (BMW M3) – DNF

1990
Heather Spurle/Bob Jones (Holden VL Commodore) – 26th

1994
Melinda Price/Garry Jones/Andrew Reid (Toyota Corolla) – DNF

1997
Jenni Thompson/Aaron McGill/Terry Skene (Ford Mondeo) – DNF

FAI Australia 1000 (race length: 1000km)
Melinda Price/Kerryn Brewer (Holden VS Commodore) – 12th


The Castrol Cougars: (l-r) Melinda Price, Kim Watkins (never drove), Kerryn Brewer

1998
Heidi O’Neil/Paula Elstrek/Damien Digby (Ford Mondeo) – DNF
Jenni Thompson/Mike Fitzgerald (Peugeot 405) – DNF

FAI Australia 1000
Melinda Price/Kerryn Brewer (Holden VS Commodore) – 11th
Nicole Pretty/Nathan Pretty/Grant Johnson (Holden VS Commodore) - DNF

1999
(race length: 500 miles)
Debbie Chapman/Dennis Chapman (BMW 320i) – 10th
Jenni Thompson/Allan Letcher (BMW 318i) – 12th
Leanne Ferrier (Tander)/Dean Canto (Ford Mondeo) – DNF

FAI Australia 1000 (race length: 1000 miles)
Melinda Price/Dean Lindstrom (Holden VS Commodore) – 17th

2000
Melinda Price/Dean Lindstrom (Holden VS Commodore) – 20th

2001
Leanne Ferrier/Paul Dumbrell (Holden VX Commodore) – DNF

2009
Leanne Tander/David Wall (Ford BF Falcon) – 29th

2015
Renee Gracie/Simona de Silvestro (Ford FG X Falcon) – 21st

2016
Renee Gracie/Simona de Silvestro (Nissan Altima) - 14th

2017
Simona de Silvestro/David Russell (Nissan Altima) - DNF

(C. Gibson image copyright News Corp Australia)

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