Monday, 23 November 2015

"Valli" (Valerie Stack)

Valli's helmet, and portraits of her

“Valli” was the nom de course of Valerie Stack, a 1970s saloon racer, and Biba model, who managed to claim some good race finishes and a string of lap records too. She raced between 1975 and 1977, driving an MG Midget, Lotus Europa and Triumph TR7 with Biba sponsorship.

Her name first became known in motorsport circles in 1975, for reasons not related to her on-track performance. She was photographed sunbathing topless at Mallory Park, and the pictures were published in the British motoring press. Valli was already working as a model, and at that time, was in a relationship with racer and track owner, Chris Meek.  He encouraged her to drive one of his racing cars, and her first track appearance was more of a modelling assignment than a race, just doing some demonstration laps in an MG Midget. Meek saw that she took to the car quite well, and offered her some actual racing, in the Midget. Despite having few ambitions in that direction, she decided to give it a go, and entered the BRSCC Production Sports Car Championship. Her early races were hard work, and some ended in spins, but she was soon picking up class awards, including two at Croft. Biba, the fashion label for which she had modelled, was the main sponsor of her MG Midget, which carried a striking black and gold livery.

Away from motorsport, Valli’s professional life took a different direction in 1976. She moved away from modelling and into music production, working alongside her future husband, Emile Ford, and producing one of his albums. Her relationship with Chris Meek must have been over by then, but he continued to support her in her racing activities. She was active in Production Sports Cars again in 1976, and was one of the leading drivers in her class. She set lap records for production sports cars worth £2000 and under at Brands Hatch, Aintree, Castle Combe, Rufforth and Ingliston.

The BWRDC gave her their award for the most successful woman driver in 1976, as well as its Best Newcomer title.

In 1977, she raced a Triumph TR7 in Production Sports, also owned by Meek and sponsored by Biba. She came second in at least one race, at her favoured circuit of Croft. At some point, she raced a Lotus Europa, again owned by Meek, part of a two-car team with him, but no results are forthcoming.

That year, her name was linked to a Land Speed Record project, Blue Star, led by Dave Gossling. Valli was said to be considering an attempt on Lee Breedlove’s women’s record, by no less than Motor Sport magazine. Drag racer Tony Densham and Formula One driver, David Purley, were linked to the project too, but it never came to fruition, as Dave Gossling was killed in an accident before the car was even built.

Valli retired from motorsport after 1977, following her marriage to Emile Ford and subsequent pregnancy. She is rather an obscure figure now, although she is remembered fondly by some motor racing fans who saw her in action.

(Image copyright “Sherbet Hamilton”)

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