Friday, 27 October 2017

Eleanor Allard

Eleanor Allard competed in trials, sprints and hillclimbs from the 1930s onwards, with some success, but she is best known for rallying during the early 1950s.

Married to Sydney Allard, she had access to works Allard cars. The couple met through Eleanor’s brother, Alan May, who was a fellow car owner and racing colleague. They were all members of Berkhamstead Motor Club.

Before the war, she was mainly active in trials. She and Sydney sometimes drove together. In 1936, they had a lucky escape on the Colley Experts’ Trial; their Allard-built CLK5 overturned and trapped them underneath.

It was not until the late 1940s that she began to compete seriously. Starting in 1947, she made a name for herself in sprints and hillclimbs. Her first major result was a second place in the ladies’ class for unlimited sportscars in the 1947 Brighton Speed Trials, in an Allard. She came second to Betty Haig. The following year, she was ninth in the class for standard sportscars over 2000cc.

In 1949, she won the ladies’ award in the Blandford hillclimb, in a 3622cc Allard. The same year, she entered the RAC British hillclimb championship and was third in class at Prescott, behind Sydney, who won. The couple competed against each other again at Craignantlet, with Eleanor in a J2. Her third Brighton Speed Trial resulted in an overall ladies’ class win, seven seconds faster than Mrs Treen in her Riley.

She improved even more in the 1950 Speed Trials, finishing seventh overall. Her car was a Cadillac-engined Allard. Once more, she was just behind Betty Haig.

Her first big rally was Monte Carlo, in 1950, which she did not finish after starting at Glasgow. She was driving a 4400cc Allard P1, and had her sister, Edna Wood, as navigator.

In 1951, she drove in the Paris-St. Raphaël Rally, and was one of the fastest on the hillclimb and sprint stages. Unfortunately, she managed to get lost in the Alps after winning the Lausanne hillclimb. She had telephoned her husband to say that she had had to retire her Allard P1 owing to engine trouble, and that she was on her way to Geneva to find a suitable garage. Only a short time later, she turned up in St. Raphaël. By the time the story of her disappearance had hit the British papers, she had reappeared again, with Edna in tow.

In 1952, she drove an Allard P1 on the Monte, the year Sydney won, although her own efforts were seriously affected by an off-road excursion. She and her navigator knew that Sydney was due to pass them on the road, and hoped that he would stop to help. When he did pass, however, he did not stop. Having seen that the crew were unhurt, he passed on his way, apparently shouting “see you in Monte Carlo” out of the window.

Later, she won the Coupe des Dames in the Daily Express Rally. This event had a huge entry list of over 400 cars, but it is proving very difficult to find a complete results list.

Her navigators were always one, or both, of her sisters, Edna (Wood) and Hilda (Johnson).

She died in 2001, aged 88.

(Image from

Monday, 23 October 2017

Jenny van Hilten

Jenny van Hilten is most famous for racing a Group B-spec Ford RS200 in Europe in the late 1980s. She is from Luxembourg, and did most of her racing in the Netherlands.

Jenny and her husband Bram bought the RS200 in 1987. It had been used as a pace car by the factory previously.  

One of her most memorable races was at Zandvoort in 1988, when she entered the NTK (Dutch Touring Car) round there. After making the most of her four-wheel-drive in the wet in the Group A Super Touring race, she was fourth overall. This was her only NTK race of the year.

That year, she also drove  an RS500 in the Spa 24 Hours, with Evert Bolderheij and Bernard Winderickx. They did not finish.

She did another 24-hour race in 1988, driving a Honda Civic at the Nürburgring 24h as part of a Luxembourgish team. Her co-drivers were Carlo Gillen and “Lou”.  

Jenny, driving with her husband Bram van Hilten this time, and a driver called Phillips, returned to Spa in 1989, in the Honda Civic. They were 38th overall.  

That year, she made another appearance in Dutch touring cars, driving a Ford Fiesta XR2. Bram had made some appearances in the car earlier in the season and Jenny ran in the final round at Zandvoort. She was second in class in the Group A race, behind Bram in another XR2.

In 1990, she competed in the Citroen AX GTI Cup, and managed some top-five positions. She was noted for her pace in qualifying. Mid-season, she was third in the overall standings, second in the Ladies’.

The following year, she opted for another one-make series: the Ford Fiesta Mixed Cup, which was based in Germany. She was already familiar with the XR2s used by the series. Her male team-mate was Thomas Wirtz, a German driver. The series that year was dominated by Sabine Schmitz/Thomas Marschall and Claudia Hürtgen/Michael Funke. As a pair, Jenny and Thomas were not among the front-runners, although Jenny was sixth in the women’s points table.

The van Hilten/Wirtz pairing did another Mixed Cup season in 1992. Again, Sabine Schmitz and Thomas Marschall were runaway winners, but Jenny and Thomas had a decent season, and were fifth in the team standings. Jenny was second in the ladies’ championship.

Alongside her circuit racing career, Jenny became an adept hillclimb driver. In 1988, she won her class in the Lorentzweiler climb in the RS200. She repeated this in 1989. The Lorentzweiler course is the closest thing that Jenny had to a home circuit, being situated in Luxembourg.

(Image from

Saturday, 14 October 2017

The Ladies' Automobile Club

Millicent, the Duchess of Sutherland, with her daughter

The Ladies’ Automobile Club was Great Britain’s first dedicated motor club for women. It was not exclusively a motorsport association, but it was one of the first bodies to organise motor races for women in the UK.

Talk of a women’s motor club began in 1899. Newspapers described the actress Lily Langtry as one of its first members, and Viscountess Haberton as the founder. Little else was heard for three or four years.

In 1903, it starts to be mentioned in the papers again, with Lady Cecil Scott Montagu was its first acknowledged leader. Between 1903 and 1904, the original club seems to have collapsed. Contemporary reports claim this was due to disagreements about membership criteria. Only ladies in “society” were intended to join. Most of the early members were from the titled classes.

Millicent, the Duchess of Sutherland, became its first president in 1904. She oversaw the first Club event in June, a meeting and group drive from Carlton Terrace in central London to the Ranelagh Club in Barnes, via Pall Mall and the park. Fifty-six cars were involved. Many of the ladies drove themselves, although some relied on their chauffeurs. This fact was did not go un-noticed by observers. Among the observers on the day was Queen Alexandra, who watched the parade from the window at Buckingham Palace.

The club’s first AGM was the following month. Rooms were acquired at Claridges Hotel for the use of members, as well as a garage.

Most of the LAC’s activities were social in nature. Typically, one member would hold a meeting at her house. This was followed by a drive out, often to the Ranelagh or Hurlingham clubs, for tea. In 1904, an engineer was booked to give a series of talks on the workings of the internal combustion engine. From time to time, other talks were given, sometimes by members themselves, on aspects of motoring, or their own four-wheeled adventures. Maud Manville spoke at length about her experiences in the Herkomer Trophy in 1906.

In the beginning, there was ambitious talk of a ladies’ team being assembled for the Gordon Bennett Cup. This died down after the false start of 1903. In 1905, some women-only competitions started to be organised by the club. The first of these seems to have been a Ladies’ Handicap at the inaugural Brighton Speed Trials. The Handicap was for touring cars, and was entered by six women.

Heat 1
  1. Mrs Herbert Lloyd (30hp Daimler)
  2. Christabel Browne (Cupelle 10hp)
Heat 2
  1. Maud Manville (Daimler 35hp)
  2. Mrs Nevill Copland (12-14hp Talbot)
Mrs Guy Hardy (10hp Panhard)
Mrs Benett-Stanford (13-17hp Dixi)
  1. Mrs Herbert Lloyd
  2. Maud Manville
Only a few days later, the LAC ladies were enjoying their first dedicated gymkhana at the Ranelagh Club. The Ranelagh was the venue for Britain’s first women’s motor race, and had hosted a variety of women’s sports in the past ten years, including a bicycle gymkhana and carriage-driving competitions. Eleven members entered the gymkhana, which consisted of three races and two “appearance competitions”. The results of the races were as follows:

Bending Race (8 starters)

  1. Christabel Browne (10-12hp Cupelle)
  2. Mrs Herbert Lloyd (30hp Daimler)

Crawling Race (7 starters)

  1. Mrs Todd Newcombe (16-20hp Richard-Daimler)
  2. Mrs Herbert Lloyd (30hp Daimler)

Bomb Race (7 starters)

  1. Maud Manville (16hp Daimler)
  2. Mrs Todd Newcombe (16-20hp Richard-Daimler)

Another LAC gymkhana was held at the Ranelagh Club in 1906. Details for this event are less forthcoming. One of the races was a “Police Trap Race” where drivers had to do a lap of the grass track in a certain time, without the use of a speedometer or a stopwatch. The closest to the time was the winner. A Mrs Harry Adams won. Her car is not recorded.

The Police Trap Race was one of five driving competitions that day. The others were a Bending Race, Crawling Race, Ball Race and Tilting at Rings. A Mrs C Farrar won the Crawling Race and Tilting at Rings. Again, her car is not recorded.

A further gymkhana may have been held in 1907, or at least some ladies’ races. By then, ongoing problems with waterlogging on the polo pitch that was used as a racetrack meant that events were sometimes cancelled.

The LAC eventually became affiliated to the RAC. Its peak years as an actual motor club were between 1904 and 1910. After that, it becomes more of a social club; ladies did not even have to own a car to be members. It moved to its own premises in 1923.

Winifred Pink, herself an accomplished racing driver on sand, was one of its later presidents, in 1927. As women were admitted into more motor clubs, it gradually became redundant and was eventually absorbed into the RAC.

(Image from Tatler magazine?)

Monday, 9 October 2017

Gloria Castresana Waid

Gloria Castresana Waid is a Spanish driver who was active in the 1960s, in both rallying and circuit racing.

She began competing after her marriage to Jim Waid, in 1963. She had only had her own car for three years, but had been interested in motoring for a while. Her first car was a Simca Sport.

The couple had met in the Canary Islands in 1961, where both were working for an oil company. Gloria was not a Canary Islander; she had come from Vitoria to work. Jim was American.

Gloria’s early competitive outings were in the Canaries. The islands hosted a lot of local motorsport due to favourable tax rules.

By 1965, she was taking part in major rallies. That year, she won her class in the first running of the La Palma Rally. She was also seventh overall in the Rallye Isla de Tenerife, co-driven by José Lopez Moreno. Her car was a Mini Cooper S.

Later, in 1967, she acted as a navigator to “Miss Spain”, Paquita Torres, in the Rallye Femenino San Isidro. She helped her driver to a win in the Slalom section. The same year, the Jarama circuit in mainland Spain opened. Gloria was a regular there from the beginning, having participated in the racing festival held to inaugurate the track.

In 1968, she raced in the 3 Hours of Jarama, a European Touring Car race. Her car was a Fraser Hillman Imp usually raced by her husband, and its halfshaft broke. She normally drove her Mini on the circuits.

Race results for Gloria are hard to find. Records of Spanish motorsport before about 1969 are very sketchy.

Her career finished in 1970, when she moved to the United States. Initially, she worked for a Porsche-Audi dealership in New York. She later continued her education in languages, earning a PhD. Now, she is still a respected scholar in the field of Basque Studies.

In the past two or three years, she has returned to Spain to live and published a book about her life.

(Image from

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Emma Falcon

Emma Falcón is a Spanish driver from the Canary Islands. She has been rallying since 2011.  

Her first rallies were in the Canaries, driving a VW Polo with Eloy Rivero. Her best result was eleventh, in the Rally of Lanzarote. She had managed a second top-twenty finish in the Tenerife Rally, two months earlier.

She spent another year rallying on her home islands, picking up a tenth in the Rallye Villa de Teror and a thirteenth in the Ciudad de Telde Rally. The Maspalomas Rally was her last event before moving to mainland competition in 2013, and she was 28th overall..

Her new car for 2013 was a Ford Fiesta, and she was now navigated by Rogelio Peñate. This was a busy season for Emma, with thirteen rallies at home and in Spain. Apart from two accidents, she adapted well to the Spanish gravel, and managed an eighth place in the Rally de Tierra del Bierzo, which meant she also won the Fiesta Trophy class. Another highlight was an eleventh in the Tierras Alta da Lorca Rally, which was won by Xavi Pons in a Mitsubishi Lancer.

She also entered her first WRC event, the RACC Catalunya Rally, but did not finish, after a fuel tank broke on the last stage. She was third overall in the Spanish Fiesta Trophy, eighth in the Canary Islands championship, fourteenth in the Spanish gravel championship, and Spanish Ladies’ champion.

In 2014, she had a shorter rally season, and managed two thirteenth places, in the Senderos de la Palma and Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés rallies. Her car was a Fiesta again. Both of her finishes were in the Canaries championship; her one visit to the Spanish mainland ended in an accident on the Rally Sierra Morena.

2015 saw her take on more rallies, and also some outings as a course car driver, in a VW Amarok. Her best finish was 17th, in the Cóbreces Rally. She normally used the Fiesta, apart from one rally in a VW Polo, the Isla de Tenerife Rally, which she did not finish.

2016 was a very strong year for her, with three top-ten finishes, the best of these being a fifth place in the Rally Senderos de la Palma. The others were a sixth place in the Maspalomas Rally and ninth in the Ciudad de Telde Rally. She was back to a full programme of rallies and took part in thirteen events, plus a couple of course car outings with her boyfriend, Surhayen Pernia.

In terms of awards, she also picked up an ERC Ladies' trophy in the Corte Ingles Rally in the Canaries, and was fourth in the Canary Islands championship. Her car was a Citroen DS3.

2017 was an important year for Emma. She rallied outside Spain for the first time in her career, driving a Citroen DS3 for the RMC Motorsport team. Her season began with a 16th place in the Rallye Sierra Morena in Spain, before her first ERC rally of the year, her home event in the Canary Islands. She was 39th overall, and picked up another ERC Ladies’ award, as well as a C2 class win and seventh in ERC3.

The Villa de Adeje and Ourense rallies gave her a 20th and eleventh place respectively. Her first trip to northern Europe was for the Rzeszowski Rally in Poland. This, unfortunately, ended in a heavy crash. Her Citroen had a puncture and was being pursued closely by another car. She rolled on a small bend, colliding with some trees. Spectators immediately came to her and Rogelio Penate’s aid. Emma was not seriously harmed, but Rogelio hurt his back.

Less than a month later, Emma and the RMC DS3 were back in action in the Czech Republic. She won yet another ERC Coupe des Dames in the Barum Czech Rally Zlín, and was 49th overall. This was in spite of brake problems.

The Roma Capitale Rally was her final event of the year. Emma was ahead of the Italian, Tamara Molinaro, in the ERC Ladies’ standings, but only just. The Citroen held out until the final stage, but then suffered an engine failure, leaving Tamara Molinaro to take the win. Catie Munnings also finished, which left Emma in third.

In 2018, she returned to the ERC with the aim of improving her performances on gravel. She drove the Citroen again and was fifth in the ERC3 standings, as well as the ERC ladies' champion. Her best result was probably in the notoriously rough Acropolis Rally, where she was 22nd out of 46 finishers, second ERC3 car and second in the RC3 class. She was also 34th in Cyprus, another very rugged gravel rally.

She did not manage to defend her ladies' title in 2019, but in all other ways it was one of the best years of her career. For the first time, she piloted an R5 car in Spanish and European rallies. It was a Citroen C3 and its first outing gave her an eighth place in the Ciutat de Gandia Rally.

This was one of five top-ten finishes this year. The best of these was a third in the Rally de Maspalomas, a round of the Spanish championship. Her best ERC result was in Italy, on the Rally di Roma Capitale. She was thirteenth and won the Ladies' award. In one of her other forays abroad, she was eighth in the Rali de Castela Branco in Portugal.

Emma considers herself an ambassador for sport in the Canary Islands.

(Image copyright Copi Sport)