top of page
  • Writer's pictureDrew Bentham

Celebrating Women in Motorsport

You may be forgiven for thinking the increase in the number of women in motorsport is a recent development, but over the years there have been some key figures who have blazed a trail in an otherwise male dominated arena. We take a look back and honour some of those here on International Women's Day.

Pat Moss (1934 - 2008)

Pat Moss

Hailing from Bray, Berkshire, Pat was the daughter of British Race car driver Alfred Moss and was taught to drive by the age of 11. She was one of the most successful female rally drivers of all time, achieving 3 outright wins and 7 podium finishes in international rallies. She was crowned European Ladies' Rally Champion 5 times (1958, 1960, 1962, 1964–65).

Recognise the name? You should, her older brother Sir Stirling Moss was a Formula One Grand Prix star during the 1950s. From 1963 until her death in 2008, Swedish rally driver Erik Carlsson was both her driving-partner and her husband.

She is the author of a memoir The Story So Far (1967) and, with her husband, co-author of The Art and Technique of Driving (1965). After a career driving for works teams such as Ford and Lancia, Pat passed away on 14 October 2008 from cancer, aged 73, at her home in Eaton Bray, Bedfordshire. She was survived by her husband Erik and daughter Susan.

Maria Teresa de Filippis (1926 - 2016)

Maria Teresa de Filippis

The first woman ever to compete in Formula One, de Filippis raced in 5 grands prix in 1958 and 1959. Born in Naples, she began racing at the age of 22 after 2 of her brothers bet that she couldn’t drive fast. Needless to say, they lost the bet. De Filippis won her first race on the Amalfi coast in a Fiat 500, and made it all the way to F1.

Speaking in 2006, she said:

“The only time I was prevented from racing was at the French Grand Prix. The race director said: 'The only helmet a woman should wear is the one at the hairdresser's.' Apart from that I don't think I encountered any prejudice - only surprise at my success.”

Lella Lombardi (1941 - 1992)

Lella Lombardi

Lella participated in 17 Formula One World Championship Grands Prix during her career. Lombardi is one of 2 female drivers to qualify for Formula One and is the only female driver who scored points. Lombardi grew up in Italy and developed an interest in racing by driving a delivery van for her family. She started in karting and moved to Formula Monza and then Formula 3. She continued to advance through racing until she reached Formula 1 where she scored her first point for finishing 6th in the 1975 Spanish Grand Prix. The record books show this was only half a point as the race was Red Flagged after a tragic accident, for for me, this still counts. Lombardi was also the first woman to qualify and compete in the Race of Champions at Brands Hatch and raced in sports cars. She won the 6 Hours of Pergusa and the 6 Hours of Vallelunga. Lombardi's story has impacted generations of racers. Her experience has shaped the involvement of women in racing and how people perceive women in the racing industry.

Michelle Mouton (1951-)

Michelle Mouton

No list of the greatest women in Motorsport would be complete without the Queen. Mouton debuted in rallying as a co-driver but quickly switched seats, competing in a Renault A110 in national rallies. In 1975, she competed in circuit racing and won the 2 litre prototype class in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. After being signed by Fiat France for 1977, Mouton finished runner-up to Bernard Darniche in the European Rally Championship. She went on to win the 1978 Tour de France Automobile and record consistent results in her home events in the WRC on the Tour de Corse and the Monte Carlo Rally.

For 1981, Audi Sport signed Mouton to partner Hannu Mikkola. In her first year with the Audi Quattro, she took a surprise victory at the Rallye Sanremo. In the 1982 World Rally season, Mouton finished a close second overall to Walter Röhrl, but her performance helped Audi to its first manufacturers' title. In 1985, she won the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in the United States, setting a record time in the process. In 1986, she moved to Peugeot and won the German Rally Championship as the first female driver to win a major championship in rallying. Soon after securing the title, Mouton retired from rallying. In 1988, she co-founded the international motorsport event Race of Champions in memory of her former rival Henri Toivonen. Mouton became the first president of the FIA's Women & Motor Sport Commission in 2010 and the FIA's manager in the World Rally Championship in 2011. Like I said, the Queen!

Fabrizia Pons (1955 -)

Fabrizia Pons

Mouton was not alone in her success. Pons partnered her to victory and together became the most successful female crew in World rallying. From Turin, Italy, Pons is perhaps the most successful woman ever to sit in a World Rally Championship car, and one of only two people ever to score World Rally Championship points as both driver and co-driver.

Pons carried on when Mouton retired from driving. She joined Piero Longhi in the 1994 Italian Rally Championship which brought wins on Il Ciocco and the famous Mille Miglia. Fabrizia’s triumphant return to competition caught the eye of Ford’s WRC team, who paired her with the great Ari Vatanen. Ari described working with Fabrizia as “sheer joy”. The duo later wining the Atlas Rally and Baja Portugal for the Citroen Rally Raid team.

With Piero Liatti, She formed part of the Prodrive Subaru works WRC team. A pair of podiums in 1996 were followed by victory for the two Italians on the ’97 Monte Carlo Rally, and two more podiums. Fabrizia turned her attention back to rally raids in the new millenium, and sat alongside Jutta Kleinschmidt in the works Volkswagen Touareg. Pons stayed with Volkswagen for six years, scoring a third place with Jutta on the 2005 Paris Dakar.

Louise Aitken-Walker (1960 -)

Louise Aitken-Walker

Louise was both a rally and racing driver. she entered competition in 1979 and finished 19th in her first Rally GB 2 years later. 1989 was a busy year, competing in both the British Touring Car Championship in a Class C Vauxhall Astra, finishing 5th in points. She also competed in the British Rally Championship reaching 7th overall and taking the European Ladies trophy. In 1990 a Ladies’ World Cup was introduced in the World Rally Championship and :ouise would have her chance to take on the world.

With co-driver, Tina Thörner they won the first ever Ladies World Champion, the pinnacle of a successful 14-year career. She retired in 1993 to have a family (son John and daughter Gina) and concentrate on her business, Aitken-Walker Cars.

In September 2008, Aitken-Walker took part in the Colin McRae Forest Stages Rally, a round of the Scottish Rally Championship centred in Perth in Scotland. A historic Talbot Sunbeam Lotus was her chosen car for the event. She was one of a number of ex-world and British champions to take part in the event in memory of McRae, who died in 2007. Aitken-Walker was inducted into the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame in 2002.

It's not all about the crews though.....

Becs Williams (WRC Commentator)

Becs Williams

Becs is a familiar voice to many, many rally fans around the world. Her sunny and positive outlook makes her commentary a joy to listen to. She discovered her passion for cars at the age of 4 after attending her first ever rally with her two older brothers. Whilst growing up, motorsport was in the background for the Becs, as she continued to watch rallies and Formula 1 on TV.

She went to university and studied for a degree in Journalism with Film Making as her goal was to be a producer. After completing her studies, she started reporting in Formula Ford, Ford Fiesta Zetec Challenge for a Cardiff Sports agency, before progressing up to the BTCC and British Rally Championship. Eventually Becs would make it to the top and the WRC, which is where she always wanted to be.

Bex Hinton (National Rally Commentator)

Bex Hinton

We don't get to see Bex all that often as she's normally holding the camera, but that doesn't stop her making her mark! As part of MCR Motorsport Media with partner Matt Cotton, they cover national rallies around a usually cold, wet and muddy Britain to shine a light on the national series.

An eye of the future.......

Today there is a host of young talent hitting the track, stages and dunes all of whom are pushing back the boundaries of old, There are too many to mention them all but here are some names who feature in this kind of list in the future.....

Lia Block (Rally driver turned racing driver. Now signed up to compete in the F1 Academy)

Lola Lovinfosse (F1 Academy)

Emely De heus (F1 Academy)

Abbi Pulling (F1 Academy)

Bianca Bustamante (F1 Academy)

Tina Hausmann (F1 Academy)

Lucy Wigley (Rally Driver)

Amanda Sorenson (Nitrocross driver)

Happy International Women's Day Ladies

13 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page