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10 Female Racing Pioneers and Icons You Have Probably Never Heard Of

Let me introduce you to a group of history-making ladies who found their second home on the race track.

by
Becky Graebner

Bio

May 27, 2014 - 7:00 am
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250px-Hélène_de_Zuylen_de_Nyevelt_de_Haar_1908

1. Helene (de Rothschild) van Zuylen

Ms. Van Zuylen is a name that many people  probably find unfamiliar. It is a shame because this adventurous French socialite is credited as being the first woman to compete in an international motor race.

Helene’s husband, Baron Etienne van Zuylen, was the president of the Automobile Club of France, and thus responsible for organizing the 1898 Paris-Amsterdam-Paris Trail, a 889-mile city-to-city race.  Helene participated (and finished) The Trail, becoming the first woman to ever compete in an international race.

All Comments   (10)
All Comments   (10)
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6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
Great list, but I would add another for the two-wheel gals....

And the Top Lady on that list would be Jenny Tinmouth of the UK.

Fastest female to lap the incredibly treacherous Isle of Man road course at 119.9 mph, and currently THE only lady riding against the boys in the British Superbike series

She's Danica Patrick on two wheels, but without the protective cage around her. And she turns her own wrenches on the bike as Team Owner of TWR Racing, so named for the "Two Wheel Workshop", a motorcycle repair shop in Ellesmere Port she is principal owner and mechanic of....

Jenny does it all, I've been a minor sponsor/major fan of hers for several years.

GO JENNY!


7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
Second name that popped into my mind. The first was Leslie Poterfield.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
South African, Desiree Wilson should be included in any list of woman racing drivers. She is the only woman to win a Formula 1 event - the British Aurora F1 series in 1980 at Brands Hatch. Most of her achievements came in sports car endurance racing including Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring. She also participated in Indy car and Indy lights. No list is complete without mentioning her.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
You omitted Pat Moss, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pat_Moss, the first woman to win a major international rally outright. In 1960 she finished 2nd overall in the Coupe des Alpes, and then she won the Marathon de la Route, run over 96 hours from Liege down through Yugoslavia and back non-stop.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
Heard of the Americans, but not the Europeans.

I really haven't been much to follow European racing (and especially not its history, forgive my ignorance).

A decent number of female drivers have visited the Central PA dirt tracks over the past few years in the 410 Sprint and 358 Sprint divisions, the most well known of which would probably have been Jessica Zemken.

Racing's a money sport, though, and none of the women (and for that matter, none of the men either, with maybe one possible exception) who race local here really have the sponsorship or the bankroll to move up to a higher profile form of racing.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
I know this is all auto racing, but one of my personal heroines and 'war heros' is Jacquiline Cochran in the Bendix Air races and then went on to form the WASPs for Hap Arnold. She ferried the first bomber across the Atlantic, first woman to break the sound barrier, and did NOT get lost in the Pacific. And she sponsored a rally to recruit DD Eisenhower to run for President.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacqueline_Cochran
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
It is a pleasure to see this posted Becky.

Many, too, think of high performance sport motorcycling as a "man's activity," but among Ducati riders, at least, this perception is largely fading away.

Several of the most skilled and enthusiastic riders I know are women -- on the street and on the track. And they even have one advantage over male riders: For some reason, when they get stopped for excess road speed, and remove their helmet, they rarely get a ticket. Why remains a mystery.

:)
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
Let's not forget Louise Smith, who raced on the Daytona Beach and Road Course in 1950 - 22 years prior to Ms. Guthrie. She wrecked out of the 200 mile NASCAR Grand National event, but for going side-by-side on the hard sand with the likes of Tim and Fonty Flock, Lee Petty and Fireball Roberts, I think she deserves an Honorable Mention.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
The only one I've heard of is Sabine, and that's due to my love of Top Gear. She's definitely one of the best drivers I've seen (10:08.49 around the Nurburgring in a Ford Transit Van!)
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
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