Thursday, 13 October 2016

Female Single-Seater Drivers Around the World: Canada

Ashley Taws

Female drivers have been a feature of the Canadian single-seater scene since the 1970s. Formula Ford has been particularly popular. Louise Roberge now has her own post.

Amy Castell – began racing Formula Ford 1600 in Canada in 2012, at the age of sixteen. She was the youngest driver on the grid, and she was instantly competitive, despite driving a 40-year-old Zink Z10 car. Her best finish of the season was third, at Calabogie Motorsports Park. Later that season, she had a big accident and had to take some time off, but she came back in 2013, about half-way through the season. Since then, she has raced a 1990 Reynard SF90. In 2014, she won her first race, at Honda Indy, and was third in the Toyo Tires FF1600 championship. In 2015, she competed in the B Class of the Canadian F1600 Championship Series. She managed four podium finishes – one second and three third – and was third in the championship. 

Molly Elliott – Canadian driver who raced single-seaters in her home country in 1986. She competed in both Formula Ford and Formula Vee. Formula Ford 2000 was her most successful series, and she was ninth in the Canadian championship. Molly’s later activities are not well-documented, but she was still racing in Formula Ford in Canada in 1991. She was 20th in the championship, with a best finish of eighth, at Mosport. 

Megan Gilkes - a leading name in Canadian Formula 1200 since 2017. She has picked up wins in both of her seasons in the championship and was runner-up in 2018. Her experiences in larger-capacity cars have not been quite as successful, but she has raced both Formula 2000 in Canada and Formula Vee in Brazil. In 2019, she was announced as one of the 18 drivers selected for the women-only W Series and shortly after that, began competing in the F3 Americas championship. She was one of the weaker drivers in the W Series and was substituted for one race, in an unpopular move by W management. Her only real highlight was her win in the Assen reverse-grid race, which was not part of the championship. She ran better in US F3, picking up one ninth place at Pittsburgh. She also started the Viriginia round but crashed in the first race. Back in a Van Diemen F2000, she did a couple of races in the US championship, finishing seventh at Road Atlanta.

Caitlin Johnston – races in Formula Ford 1600 in Canada. Her first season was in 2007, after she won a senior karting championship.Her best year has probably been 2010, when she was third outright in the Formula Ford Ontario Championship, with two runner-up spots at Mosport as her best finishes. That year, she also competed in three rounds of the NASCAR Canadian Tyre Series. Periodically, she has raced in the US as well as Canada, and has tried 2000cc Formula Ford as well as 1600. After a couple of quieter years, she was fourth in the 2014 F1600 championship, earning one podium position and a start from pole. She has been much less active since then. 

Patricia Smith – raced in Formula B in Canada for a part-season in 1973. Her car was a Ford-engined March. She was a rival of Linda Wilson. That year, she was 23rd in the championship. She scored at least one finish, a seventeenth place at the Sanair circuit in Quebec. Patricia was from Montreal herself, and was sponsored by PS Transport, which looks to have been a family firm.

Carol Soucy - Canadian driver from Quebec, who raced in Toyota Formula Atlantic in 1997. She was 33rd overall in the championship, having entered three races. Her best finish was thirteenth, at Trois-Rivieres. She did not finish the other two races. In 2002, she did at least a part-season in Formula Ford in Canada. Prior to her Atlantic exploits, she had also raced in Formula Ford in 1996.

Ashley Taws - successful young Canadian Formula Ford driver between 2000 and 2002, recognisable for her pink, "Barbie"-sponsored car. She was a race-winner at 1200cc level and scored seconds and thirds in her one season of 1600cc competition. In only her first season, she won two races, and she was second in the championship in 2001. She moved up to the more competitive 1600cc class in 2002. Her career was almost ended by a serious road traffic accident at the end of 2002. She only returned to motorsport full-time in 2007, in a BMW, and later, a CASCAR stock car. Although she showed promise, finishing second in only her third CASCAR race, she did not take to oval racing and quit in 2009. She is now pursuing a business career.

Linda Wilson – Canadian driver who raced in single-seaters in the 1970s. She took part in Formula B in 1972 and 1973, driving for the Fergusson-Wilson team. Her car was a Chevron B20. She scored at least one fifteenth place at the Sanair circuit in 1973, one of six races in Formula B that she did that year. She was seventeenth in the championship.

(Image from

1 comment:

  1. In regard to Amy Castell, it must be very unusual to see such an ancient car (Zink Z10) being competitive with more modern machinery - it must have been a very well-engineered design.