The inspirational women of motorsport through the years.

Finally in the 21st century motorsport is shrugging off its over the top masculine image, with more women becoming involved in this sport that demands intelligence, perseverance and lightning-fast reactions.

As recently as the 1960s, the total number of female racing drivers across the seven continents was in the single figures. This despite the inspirational Italian, Maria Teresa De Filippis leading the charge as the first woman to compete in a Formula 1 Grand Prix in 1958.

By the 1980s, there was plenty of room for improvement, but the number of women wanting a spot on the podium had rapidly increased. It was during this decade that Michèle Mouton and co-driver Fabrizia Pons became the first women to win a World Championship rally at Sanremo.

Fast-forward to the modern day and the total number of women on the circuit is hitting close to four figures.

Over the years women racers have feature in some of the sport's most thrilling times. For some women what began as a publicity stunt grew into an exciting career,others were sold on the exhilaration and indeed the speed from the start.

Fearless women endured tough physical rigors in the pursuit of a win. As far back as Edwardian times women's clothes weren't best suited to the pursuit of Motorsport, so they had to transform their attire from voluminous skirts to a streamlined overalls. Embracing the pleasure of dangers and the opportunities of the very much male dominated sport to stack up impressive achievements on track.

June 1892 - The first circuit race took place.

Riding De Dion Boutot motorised tricycles, eight women competed in this race at Longchamps Racecourse in Paris on June 11th. A women called Lea Lemoine was the winner of the day and was presented with a braclets for her victory.

Lea Lemoine

July 1900- Ranelagh Club, Barnes London.

The ladies drove most skillfully and gracefully, a most exciting race took place between Miss Weblyn and Mrs Edward Kennard, who was riding a De Dion,it was reported that the scratch car gained on the De Dion but only over hauled on it during the last 50 yards of the race,winning by eight and a half yards.

MrsEdward Kennard

August 1908

Muriel Thompson wins the first ladies match race at Brookland raceway, in surrey England it was an handicap race driving an Austin Noble , she went on to become an ambulance driver for the first aid nursing in world war 1.

Muriel Thompson

July 1921

The first notable Italian woman racer was Baroness Maria Antoinetta D'Avanso. She raced competitively for 20 years in the Mille Miglia and also at Le Mans. In July of 1921, her twelve cylinder Packard caught fire while she beach racing in Denmark, she drove into the water to extinguish the flames, this quick thinking saved her life.

Baroness D'Avanzo

1929 Helle Nice

Hailing from Paris in France Helle Nice was a recognisable for her glamour and blue racing cars. She won the all female Grand Prix and after this and setting a new speed record in 1929 she joined the Bugatti racing team and competed against men, she never won a grand prix but she did beat some of the most popular male drivers of the time.

Helle Nice

1930 Odette Siko & Margaret Mareuse

Odette was the first woman to comepte as a female driver in the 24 hours at Le Mans, she and her co pilot Margaret came 7th in the race, after 2 years she competed again and came 4th. To this day no other woman has come higher than 4th overall in Le Mans.

Odette and Margaret

1931 Gwenda Stewart

Gwenda set several womans land speed records with cars and bikes. In France at the Montlhery circuit, she broke the 24 hour motorcycle speed record on a Terrot Jap.

Gwenda Stewart.

1934 Kay Petre

Canadian woman Late Petre came 13th in the 24 hours of LeMans in a Riley 9. Her career came to a sudden end after a crash in 1937 she sustained injuries which made it impossible for her to race ever again.

Kay Petre

August 1935 Gwenda Stewart v's Kay Petre.

In 1935 August to be exact Stewart and Oetre went head to head in a race at Brooklands for the women's outdoor circut speed record on the day Lay Petre won but a few days later she was beaten by her rival Gwenda Stewart.

1947 Ada Pace -Italy.

Vespa races were popular in Italy after World War 2. Ada Pace from Turin made big apperance onto the circuit as one of the only female competitors. She then moved on the 4 wheel vechiles in the 1950's and enjoyed some success in Italy.

Ada Pace.

June 1949 Sara Christian

In June 1949 Sara Christian was the first qualified woman Nascar driver. She never finished the race, just a few months later she placed in 5th place in a NASCAR circuit race, it is to this day still among the highest NASCAR finishes for a women ever.

Sara Christian

1954 Denise McCluggage.

Denise McCluggage raced at the Sebring Rally and at Monte Carlo wearing her famous polka dot helmet. It was her other career as a motorsport journalist that made her more famous as she argued the equality between women and men in the sport.

Denise McCluggage.

1956 Suzy Dietrich

Suzy was one of the first Formula one racers with success in the 1950's and 1960's. Her first race at Nassau Speedway in the Bahamas driving a Porsche 550.

Suzy Dietrich

1965 Ireland's Rosemary Smith.

She was named the outstanding woman driver of 1965, she placed 4th in a Monte Carlo rally in which there was only 22 competitors out of a possible 227 due to adverse weather conditions. She also won several ladies events on the Circuit of Ireland and Alpine rally in 1965. Years later she started her own driving school.

Rosemary Smith

1970 Marie-Claude Beaumont.

She was a french driver who was noted for winning the French Ladies Championship in the 1970's.

Marie-Claude Beaumont

1982 Michelle Mouton

Known as the French Tigress she was one of the most successful female rally drivers on the circuit. In 1982 she came 2nd by a little 12 points driving an Audi Sport Quattro.

Michelle Mouton

2001 Sarah Kavanagh

Sarah had her best year in 2001 driving in the Euroboss F2 series which included finishing in 3rd place in Mondello Park.

Sarah Kavanagh.

2013 Danielle Murphy

The Queen of Europe Title went to Irish Lass Danielle Murphy in 2013, it was her 1st title and would get her 2nd title in 2015

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