Famous Women In Motorsport

Many consider the world of motorsport to be a male-orientated one, but there are plenty of high-profile women in the field who are proving those attitudes to be outdated and incorrect. From the World Rally Championship to NASCAR, Formula One and everything in between, we have seen a welcome increase in female representation at the highest levels of the sport.

Some of these women have become modern-day superstars, attracting as many media headlines as their male counterparts. Meanwhile, those from a bygone era deserve great credit for blazing the trail that allowed others to follow in their tyre tracks.

Ahead of International Women’s Day, we’ve picked out some of those pioneering female racing drivers and celebrated the achievements that raised the profile of women in motorsport.

Michèle Mouton

Still to this day, the only woman to have recorded a World Rally Championship victory, Mouton’s legacy has long been cemented. Her maiden triumph came in Italy in 1981 before she picked up three more wins the following season. Those successes saw her finish second in the overall standings and helped to deliver her Audi team the manufacturers’ championship. A true inspiration for all male or female racing drivers, Mouton’s reputation is only enhanced by the fact she competed in the Group B era, where rallying was arguably at its most dangerous.

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Jutta Kleinschmidt

Kleinschmidt, who hails from Germany, was the first female race car driver to win the Dakar Rally when she triumphed over the field back in 2001 – the last staging of the event to cover the original gruelling route from Paris to the Senegalese capital. She had finished third in 1999 but two years on there was no stopping her, as she finished almost three minutes ahead of her nearest competitor. Having proven her quality in the ultimate test of endurance, Kleinschmidt’s place among the pantheon of the greatest women in motorsport was secured forever.

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Lella Lombardi

Sadly no longer with us after passing away in 1992 at just 50 years of age, Lombardi’s achievements ensure she will go down in history. She remains the only female F1 driver to score points in the classification, earning 0.5 thanks to her sixth-place finish at the 1975 Spanish Grand Prix, where a shortened race meant only half points were awarded. Lombardi’s exploits didn’t start and end there; one year prior she’d become the first female racing driver to compete in the Race of Champions, while she also featured four times in the iconic 24 Hours of Le Mans, with a best finish of 11th in 1977.

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Danica Patrick

In the modern day, there are few more high-profile women in motorsport than Patrick. For the best part of a decade and a half, she went wheel to wheel with her rivals in the IndyCar and NASCAR Series, making history at the Japan 300 in 2008 by becoming the first female race car driver to claim an IndyCar victory. Patrick’s long list of achievements also include a podium finish at the Indianapolis 500 in 2009 as well as claiming pole position for the iconic Daytona 500 in 2014. A true inspiration for all budding female NASCAR drivers.

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Jamie Chadwick

Let’s change gears and shift our focus from an established star to an up-and-comer. Chadwick announced herself on the world stage in 2019 by being crowned champion of the inaugural W Series – the first single-seater series for female racing drivers. Her victories at Hockenheim and Misano – allied with podium finishes in three of the other four races – were enough to see Chadwick take glory ahead of Beitske Visser of the Netherlands. Meanwhile, Chadwick’s exploits have earned her a place in Williams’ Driver Academy – perhaps an indication that further success is to follow.

“My aspirations are greater than just W Series. I want to achieve a lot in this sport and I need more racing under my belt to level up with the top guys,” Chadwick has stated. Who’s to say she won’t join Lombardi in that exclusive club of point-scoring female F1 drivers?

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Toni Breidinger

In February 2021 Breidinger, who is of Lebanese descent, broke new ground as the first Arab-American female racing driver to compete in any NASCAR national series. The 21-year-old finished 18th in the Lucas Oil 200 at Daytona and has her sights set on reaching the pinnacle of her sport, the NASCAR Cup Series. Given her racing journey started in a go-kart just 12 years ago, you certainly wouldn’t put it past her to become the next big name among female racing drivers. Not only that, Breidinger wants to use her position to inspire others of her heritage to follow her lead.

“I'm honoured and excited to be the first, but I don't want to be the last," Breidinger told CNN. “I hope I can pave the way for future female Arab drivers as well.”

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Esmee Hawkey

Inspired by her father’s passion for motorsport, Hawkey got started in karting aged nine and moved onto cars six years later. She soon progressed to GT racing and, like Chadwick, featured in every round of the inaugural W Series in 2019. Since then, Hawkey has tested for MB Motorsport in the British Touring Car Championship and been crowned champion in the Pro-Am class of the Porsche Carrera Cup Great Britain.

Ahead of her W Series debut she said: “This could be an opportunity to fulfil my childhood dream of reaching the pinnacle of motorsport and getting to F1.” As one of the brightest young women in motorsport, who’s to say she won’t turn that dream into a reality?

Image received from Esmee Hawkey (@esmee_hawkey), Twitter

Fancy Yourself As The Next Mouton, Patrick or Lombardi?

Do you aspire to be like these pioneering women in motorsport? If you’re someone who has a passion for racing or loves to live life in the fast lane, why not get in touch with Jardine Motors and browse our superb selection of high-end vehicles?

We can offer models from some of the finest manufacturers including the likes of Aston Martin, BMW, Ferrari, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, so why not find your local dealership and see where your racing adventure takes you.

You never know, it might be the start of a journey towards stardom…

 

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