I had the awesome opportunity to attend the Arizona Concours d’Elegance: Pioneer Women in Racing. The panel was a discussion of the pioneer women who have raced professionally.
Legends: Pioneer Women in Racing included veteran race driver Janet Guthrie, the first woman to compete in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500 in the 1970s, and Miranda Seymour, an acclaimed author whose book, Bugatti Queen, explores the life of Hellé Nice, the famed French woman racing driver who competed in the 1920s and ’30s. All moderated by another female racing star, Lyn St. James, also of Indianapolis 500 fame. During the discussion we learned the contributions of women drivers, triumphs and challenges.
As part of the discussion there were in exhibit cars of the most famous women drivers.
1925 Bugatti Type 35 (from the collection of Jan Voboril) driven by Elizabeth Junek – One of the most renowned female racing drivers of the period. She would often accompany her racer / husband Cenek Junek on his motoring exploits in their Bugatti Type 35. Her most famous race was the 1928 Targa Florio, which she led until the final lap before succumbing to mechanical troubles.
1927 Bugatti Type 37A (from the collection of Andrew Larson) driven by Anne-Cecile Rose Itier – From the late 1920s to the early 1950s, Anne-Cécile Itier was the most active female racing amateur in France. She participated in everything from Grand Prix racing to hill climbs and rallies. She entered Le Mans five times – a female record – and ran the Monte Carlo Rally seven times. Her peers were Hellé Nice and Elizabeth Junek.
1927 Bugatti Type 35 (from the collection of William “Chip” Connor II) driven by Helle Nice – A talented and beautiful race car driver, Nice was a true pioneer of the sport in her day. She owned and raced this Type 35 in the early 1930s, competing at prestigious international circuits like Le Mans, Reims and Monza. Nice would develop a close association with the Bugatti marque, leading to her nickname, “The Bugatti Queen.”
1955 Maserati 250F (from the collection of Bill Pope) driven by Maria Teresa de Filippis – The first women to have raced in Formula One. After her retirement, and as a sign of tremendous respects, she was awarded the title of Honorary Chair of both the Maserati Club and the Formula One Grand Prix Drivers Club.
1967 Ferrari NART Spyder & 1960 OSCA Formula Junior (from the Collection of Lawrence Auriana) driven by Denise McCluggage – Automotive journalist and race car driver, she is the first automotive journalist inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame.
I absolutley loved this discussion panel and if you listened closely you can hear the Bugatti’s share the past glories of these pioneer women drivers.
Until next time,