Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Yearly update and clean-up.

Speedqueens is currently undergoing its yearly update and general tidy-up.

If you are reading this and have anything you feel should be added or amended on here, now is the ideal time to ask!

The blog has had a quiet year in 2012, but the new year is scheduled to see some new profiles being created, and some other new articles.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Simone des Forest


Simone (right) and Odette Siko with the Triumph, 1935

Simone des Forest was a popular figure in her native France, and enjoyed a lengthy motorsport career, on both sides of the Second World War. Born in 1910, she was the youngest of the French ladies’ motor racing “set” of the 1930s, which included Madame Hellé-Nice and Anne Itier. She learned to drive at the age of twelve, at home, and at nineteen, was described by some sources as one of the first French women to earn a driving license.

Her competition career began very soon afterwards, in 1930. Her first event was a hillclimb at Baraque. In 1931, she is described as having entered a Paris-Vichy race, perhaps a road race, although no entry lists for this event, have come to light. It is quite probable that “Paris-Vichy race” refers to a stage of the Paris-St. Raphaël Rally. Some female racers of the time faced the disapproval of their families, but not so Simone; her mother is described as her co-driver from Paris to Vichy. Her mother was also her navigator for the Paris-Antibes-Juans-les-Pins rally in 1931, in the family Rosengart.

After a quiet couple of years, Simone reappears on the motorsport scene in 1934. She was talent-scouted by Charles de Cortanze for the Monte Carlo Rally, following her performances in a series of ladies’ races at Montlhéry, organised by de Cortanze himself. Simone partnered Fernande Hustinx in a Peugeot 301, starting at Bucharest. They won the Coupe des Dames and were seventeenth overall. Simone kept a detailed notebook, complete with skilful illustrations, of her journey, which has partly been published.

The following year, Simone teamed up with Odette Siko for the Monte. They were driving a Triumph and won their class. The pair may also have entered the Monte together again in 1937. At around this time, she also entered the Paris-St. Raphaël at least once, apparently in an Amilcar.

In 1937, Simone’s most high-profile activity was her involvement in the Yacco speed trials at Montlhéry, a series of record-breaking runs in a giant Ford-engined Mathis “Matford”. Yacco Oil had assembled an all-female team of Simone, Odette Siko, Claire Descollas and Madame Hellé-Nice, who were to attempt a string of speed and endurance records. Claire Descollas, who was nominally the team’s captain, and after whom the Matford, “Claire”, was possibly named, dropped out after the first day of runs, and the endeavour was also troubled by friction between Hellé-Nice and the rest of the team. Simone, the youngest of the four, did not see eye-to-eye with her more flamboyant and well-travelled colleague, and Odette Siko had to keep the peace. Nevertheless, despite these setbacks, the Yacco ladies’ team set 26 new records , some of which still stand.

Her activities between 1937 and the outbreak of war in 1939 are hazy: there are references to her finishing tenth in a French road racing championship, but little in the way of solid results. During the war itself, she worked as a truck driver for the Red Cross.

Unlike many of the French racers of the inter-war years, she recommenced motorsport after the end of the war, having escaped unscathed. In 1953, she entered her first Mille Miglia, at the age of 43. She and Annie Bousquet were driving a Renault 4CV, and were 282nd. There are photographs of Simone standing next to a 4CV, alone, in circulation, and she may have used this car in rallies, or in regional races. Later in the year, she teamed up with Elyane Imbert, driving a Porsche 356 Super 1500. They entered the Spa 24 Hours and Nürburgring 1000km during the summer, but were disqualified from both races. In the German event, this was due to receiving outside assistance.

Simone apparently remained active in motorsport until 1957. After that, she retired, concentrating on running her own driving school, which was established in 1950. As well as motoring, she took an interest in flying, and qualified as a pilot. Her airborne activities may account for some of the gaps in her competition record, on both sides of the war.

After her death in 2004, at 94, she lives on in French culture. The popular expression “En voiture, Simone!”, said to indicate the start of some action or another, refers to Simone des Forest, after being used in a TV programme in 1962.

(Photo taken from http://rallyemontecarlo1935.unblog.fr)  
(Thanks to Richard Armstrong for data.)

Monday, 20 August 2012

Simona de Silvestro


Simona in 2010

Simona de Silvestro is a Swiss single-seater driver who competed mainly in America as a professional racer, before being signed by the Sauber Formula One team as an "affiliated driver". She was born in 1988.

Being born in Switzerland meant that, after a karting career, she had to race elsewhere. She did one season of Italian Formula Renault before moving to the States. This season was rather up-and-down in nature, with a fifth place at Monza its highlight, and two other top-ten finishes, but also some disappointing performances, and four retirements. She was 20th overall.

Her first US season proved to be a change in fortunes. Driving in Formula BMW for EuroInternational, Simona was much more on the pace,  and did everything apart from win - she was second twice, at Lime Rock and Mosport, and the only time she was out of the top ten, was when she was disqualified during the second Lime Rock race. She was fourth overall.  

She then moved on to the Champ Car Atlantic junior series in 2007, with Walker Racing. Despite a poor start to the season, with two retirements from her first two races, her best finish was seventh, at Mont Tremblant, and she also managed to pick up a tenth place at San Jose. She was 19th overall at the end of the season. For a change, she also made a guest appearance in an SCCA race, driving a Mazda MX-5.

She returned to the championship in 2008 with Newman Wachs. This proved to be a real turning point in her career. During the first round at Long Beach, she became the second-ever woman to win a race, moving up from her qualifying position of second. After that, she achieved a string of other top-ten finishes, including two fourths at Road Atlanta and Trois-Rivieres. Apart from two retirements, she only finished outside the top ten three times. She was eighth overall.

After being a regular fixture in the Atlantic top ten in 2008, she improved her performance once more in 2009, only finishing outside the top three on three occasions, two of which were retirements. She scored four wins, four seconds and one third, and was third overall. Her team this year was Team Stargate Worlds.

She graduated to the Indy Racing League in 2010, still supported by Stargate, in conjunction with the HVM team. Her season started solidly, although not spectacularly, with a pair of 16th places at Sao Paulo and St Petersburg, then a 21st at Barber. Normally, she qualified slightly higher. Her first Indy 500 led to a 14th place, battling from 22nd on the grid. This earned her a Rookie of the Year award. A trio of DNFs then followed, including a fiery accident at Texas, which left Simona with burns to her hand. However, when she returned for the Toronto round, she shot up from 21st on the grid to ninth, her best finish so far. Later in the season, she managed to better it, with eighth at Mid-Ohio, but she could not maintain the momentum, and had three more non-finishes. She was 19th overall.

She was retained by the team for 2011, and started well, with a fourth at St Petersburg and ninth at Barber. After this, her pace dropped off, leading to 20th places at Long Beach and São Paulo. The Indy 500 gave her a DNF, following a string of dramatic incidents; another spectacular crash during practice left her with burns, of varying severity, on both hands. She was allowed to qualify with the team’s spare car, and was classified 24th, but did not finish.

Two indifferent races at Texas followed, then another practice crash at Milwaukee, which preceded another retirement. Simona did not attend the next race, in order to recover from what appears to have been concussion. Her return at Toronto gave her a tenth place, her only top ten of the season, but then bad luck struck again, and she had to miss another round due to issues with her passport. The last rounds gave her a twelfth, fourteenth and a DNF. She was 20th at the end of the year.

Her contract with HVM continued for 2012, this time driving the new Lotus-engined car. Simona and the team struggled with reliability in the early part of the season, only finishing every other race, and hoped that a new engine from Lotus would improve their fortunes. Sadly, it did not make much difference: the DNFs continued and Simona's best finishes were a pair of fourteenth places, at Belle Isle and Iowa. She did not finish the Indy 500, after qualifying in 32nd place. Her final championship position was 24th. 

Unsurprisingly, she switched teams for 2013, moving to KV Racing Technology, alongside Tony Kanaan. She was on the pace quickly, qualifying third for her first race, and finishing sixth, and following up with top-ten finishes at Long Beach and São Paulo. Indianapolis itself was mediocre, with Simona finishing 17th, although up from 24th on the gird. A mid-season lull followed, but she managed to drag herself out of it, and back into the top ten, at Toronto. Things really picked up towards the end, with a fifth place at Baltimore, then a second at Houston, the best of Simona's career. This was a first podium position for a female driver, on an Indycar road course. A tenth and an eighth rounded out the season, and she was thirteenth overall.

Despite her comparative success, Simona's management have hinted that she was not happy with the KV team, and certain KV people admitted as much in 2014.

Another catalyst for Simona to move on, was a testing deal with the Sauber Formula One team, as an "affiliated driver". This was offered as a year of testing and training, with a view to a race seat in 2015. As she was not one of the team's official test drivers, she was only allowed to drive non-current machinery. She tested a 2012 Sauber at Fiorano and Valencia, and has covered sufficient distance to be awarded a Superlicence. She hoped to secure the place in the team, and had sponsorship from an energy company towards achieving this. Unfortunately, an announcement was made at the start of October, to the effect that Simona's financial backing was no longer in place, and she was no longer in the running for a 2015 race seat. Team principal, Monisha Kaltenborn, was said to be considering an alternative role for her within the team., but Simona's "affiliation" was pronounced over. She ceased working with her manager in November, and was said to be considering a return to the IRL. 

She did, in fact, return to Indycar, but only briefly, driving for Andretti Autosport. She did three races, one of which ended in an impressive fourth place, at NOLA. She was also 18th at St. Petersburg, and 19th at Indianapolis itself. Later in the season, she moved across to the Andretti Formula E team, having done two guest races for them in London. Her season started slowly, with a DNF in China, but she was thirteenth at Putrajaya and eleventh at Punta del Este. She took her first points finish at Long Beach, with a ninth place, and repeated it in Berlin. She was 18th in the championship.

In October, she also travelled to Australia for the Bathurst 1000. She was driving in the first all-female team for over ten years, sharing a Prodrive-prepared Ford Falcon with Renee Gracie. An accident by Renee left them down the order, but they were classified in 21st place.

In 2016, she decided that Australia was where her racing future lay. She and Renee Gracie teamed up again for the Bathurst 1000, driving a works-prepared Nissan Altima. They were fourteenth overall, an improvement on last year. Towards the end of the year, it was announced that Simona would be racing full-time in Supercars in 2017. She signed a three-year deal, which, unusually, was with the series promoters themselves, rather than an individual team.

(Picture by Lisa Hurley, from paddocktalk.com)

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Pippa Mann



Pippa Mann began racing single-seaters in 2003, after several years of karting, including some time spent living and competing in Italy. Her first foray into senior competition was the 2003 British Formula Renault Winter Series, driving for the noted Manor Motorsport team. Although she only scored three points during her first three events, she was signed by JVA Motorsport for the full Formula Renault season in 2004. 
This first full year was beset by some difficulties, including a DNF in her first event, and Pippa had to sit out three races. Her best finishes were two 17th places, at Oulton Park and Thruxton. She was 34th overall in the championship.
Despite her difficult season, she negotiated a deal with Comtec Racing to run in French Formula Renault and the Formula Renault Eurocup in 2005. Her French campaign started slowly, with 18th and 31st places at Nogaro, and remained cautious for most of the season, which was nearly a complete one, bar two meetings. Her best finish was tenth, at Le Mans, and she was 21st overall. In the Eurocup, the opposite was true: Pippa earned her highest finish, a fourteenth place, in the first round at Zolder, but suffered a series of DNFs and did not really progress much towards the end of the season. She was unplaced in the championship, interestingly, alongside future F1 driver Jaime Alguersuari.
Her contract with Comtec continued in 2006. This season, she raced in the Eurocup and in British Formula Renault. The Eurocup, once more, did not give her much joy, with a trio of fifteenth places at Istanbul, Misano and Donington her best results, although she did improve her finishing record somewhat. Again, she was unplaced. In the UK series, she broke into the top ten for the first time, with a ninth place at Donington. Her other finishes were usually just out of the top ten, and she was 19th overall.
In 2007, she moved into the World Series by Renault, now supported by the Cram/P1 Europe team. Despite another early top ten, a tenth in the first round at Monza, plus a pole position, Pippa struggled to maintain momentum. Her season was plagued by DNFs. At the end of the year, she was 27th. During her second year in the championship, she bettered her finishing record with a seventh at the Nürburgring, as well as a repeat of her first round tenth at Monza. Her list of DNFs was also shorter. She was 25th overall, with the small consolation of being the most successful female driver in the World Series. Although she was not among the front-runners, Pippa achieved a certain amount of notoriety within Renault circles, partly for her habit of wearing increasingly flamboyant dresses for pre-race parades, in preference to team uniform.
She also drove in the UK Porsche Cup during this time. From her six races in 2008, she achieved three finishes,  the best being two tenths at Knockhill. Since then, she has shown little interest in sportscars.
For 2009, she moved to the USA to contest the Firestone Indy Lights series, driving for Panther Racing. During her rookie tests, she was one of the fastest drivers on the course. In her first season, she got into the top ten three times, with a best finish of eighth, at Homestead, the last race of the season. During the year, she often qualified very well, in the top ten, but could not quite turn it into results. She was fourteenth overall. After that, Panther Racing ceased their Indy Lights involvement, leaving Pippa to search for a new team.
In 2010, she won her first race, at Kentucky, from pole. This was a welcome change, after the disappointment of crashing out of the lead at Indianapolis. She also managed a second at Chicagoland, and four other top tens. Her partnership with Sam Schmidt Motorsports really paid off, and this was the highest-achieving season of Pippa's career.
In 2011, following her improved performances in Indy Lights, she had her first part-season in the IRL, taking drives from two different teams. Her first race was the Indy 500, in which she was 20th, from 31st on the grid. She was driving for Conquest Racing. Later in the season, she made a deal with Rahal Letterman Racing. During her early tests with the team, she broke a vertebral plate and had to take time off, but later in the season, she entered the Kentucky round, and was 22nd. This led to a seat for the season-ending Las Vegas race, but Pippa was injured in the serious multi-car accident that killed former champion Dan Wheldon, and required surgery to her hand.
She intended to return to the IRL. In 2012, a deal to compete once more in the Indy 500 fell through at the last minute. She occupied herself with some radio commentary in the States in the meantime.
In September, she accepted a one-off drive in the AutoGP series from Campos Racing, at Sonoma, her first road-course race for two years. She was ninth and eighth.

Her career received a shot in the arm in 2013, when she was hired by Dale Coyne Racing. Her first Indy race back after her accident was the Indy 500 itself, which she did not manage to finish. Her next race, at Texas, also ended in a DNF, but at Pocono, she was fifteenth. She then failed to finish again at the Auto Club Speedway race. Her sponsorship did not permit her to do any more rounds, and this left her 31st overall. As she did in 2012, she turned to commentary work for the rest of the season. 

In 2014, she became involved with the breast cancer organisation, Susan G Komen, and was one of their celebrity ambassadors. A team was put together to run Pippa in the Indy 500 again, driving a pink Dale Coyne Dallara-Honda, publicising the charity. In May, she made it to the start line, despite a string of problems which had prevented her from doing most of her planned testing. During the race itself, she was making up ground on her rivals after a poor qualifying session, but a badly-handled pit stop, which took far longer than it should have, pushed her back down the order. She finished the race in 24th place.

This was her only race of 2014, although she has done media work for Susan G Komen. 

In 2015, she did a limited programme of Indycar races for Dale Coyne Racing, still in support of Susan G Komen. From six rounds, her best finishes were two thirteenth places, at Fontana and Pocono. She qualified for the Indy 500, and finished in 22nd place. At the end of the season, she was 29th in the championship.
2016 saw her undertake another very limited race programme for Dale Coyne, carrying the pink colours of Susan G Komen. She got onto the Indy 500 starting grid again, and finished in 18th place, the best result of her career at the Brickyard. Later in the season, she entered the Pocono race again, and was seventeenth. This year, she spoke out about the difficulties of remaining competitive with so few opportunities for high-level racing, and admitted that she had encountered sexism during her career.

(Picture from www.petroleyewear.ca)

Friday, 27 April 2012

Women drivers in the 2011-2012 Andros Trophy


Marlène Broggi in the Clio

As usual, many female drivers braved the Alpine ice in the 2011-2012 running of the Andros Trophy.
Marlène Broggi was the leading lady in the main Trophée, having taken part in all of the rounds. She also competed in the Electric Trophy, but was not as fast as Margot Laffite.

Trophée Andros
Marlène Broggi (Renault Clio) - 23rd
Berenice Demoustier (Toyota Auris) - 25th
Anne-Sophie Lemonnier (BMW 1 series) - 30th
Adeline Sangnier (Renault Clio) - 40th
Margot Laffite (Renault Clio) - 41st

Trophée Andros Electrique
Margot Laffite - 6th
Marlène Broggi - 8th

(Picture from www.drivepad.fr)

Women drivers in the 2012 Dakar


Isabelle Patissier at the start in Argentina.

The 2012 Dakar was not a vintage year for female participants. Isabelle Patissier was this year's leading female driver. She was 29th overall in the Dessoude Oryx Buggy, co-driven by Thierry Delli Zotti, just over 21 hours behind the winning MINI of Stephane Peterhansel.

Susan Jones was set to enter the Dakar in a Desert Warrior, but did not make the start.

No female drivers entered the Truck class this year. The only other woman finisher was motorcyclist Eulalia (Laia) Sanz Pla-Gilibert, who was 39th on a GAS.

(Picture from www.automobilsport.com)

Friday, 6 April 2012

Speedqueens is back.

After another long hiatus, Speedqueens is now being updated once more - there are many more posts to come.
However, there will not be any new posts for a little while, as I need to go through and update existing ones.

Thankyou to everyone who reads this site. Last month, it received over 5000 views for the first time!

Waltraud Odenthal (Stöhr)



Waltraud Odenthal raced touring cars in Germany in the 1970s, up to ETCC level. The car most associated with her is the Ford Capri. She was affectionately nicknamed "Turbo-Maus".

Her career began in 1969, racing a Ford Escort in club events. Her father was a Ford dealer, so it was natural that she gravitated towards that marque. He was always supportive of Waltraud, buying her cars and maintaining them.

By 1971, she had got hold of her first Capri, a Group Two model. Her racing schedule was a mixed bag of German races, starting with the Nürburgring Grand Prix round of the ETCC, a six-hour enduro. Sharing her car with Klaus Fritzinger, she is known to have been fifth in the three-litre Touring class, although her overall result is lost. A second ETCC outing followed, at Zandvoort, driving solo this time, but she did not finish. A return to the Nürburgring for the 500km race, apparently single-handedly again, brought another retirement. A DARM race at Hockenheim gave her a third in the three-litre touring class, one above Klaus Fritzinger. Continuing the pattern, her next race, at Mainz-Finthen, ended in a DNF. She finished the season back at the Nürburgring in a mixed GT and Touring race, and won the Touring class for cars over two litres.

In 1972, she competed in the newly-inaugurated DRM (German racing championship), in a Capri RS. She ran well in the first race, at the Nürburgring, finishing fifth, but did not finish the next round at Hockenheim. She returned to the championship for the sixth round, at Kassel-Calden, but did not finish there, either. The two Nürburgring races in September brought a fourth place and another DNF.

As well as the DRM, Waltraud drove in the Salzburgring round of the ETCC in Division 1, although she did not finish. During the summer, she took part in a trio of non-championship events at the Nürburgring. For the 1000km, she teamed up with Klaus Fritzinger again, but they did not finish. In July, Waltraud was supported by the Dahl-Kanal team for the 6 Hour race, the Grosser Preis der Tourenwagen. She and new team-mate Clemens Schickentanz did not make the finish. An additional GT and Touring event for Dahl-Kanal gave Waltraud, as sole driver, a third in the two-litre Touring class.

1973 began promisingly, with Waltraud’s first racing excursion to Italy. She and Klaus Fritzinger drove in the Monza 4 Hours, part of the ETCC. They were fifth overall in a Capri, sponsored by Waltruad’s father’s garage. Sadly, her DRM season got off to a bad start, with an accident in practice putting her Capri out of the first round at the Nürburgring. A second run in the ETCC, at Mantorp Park, and assisted by Hartmut Kautz, also ended before it started, due to an engine failure. The rest of the season consisted of six DRM rounds, of which two ended in DNFs. She was seventh at Diepholz and the Nürburgring, ninth at Kassel-Calden and fourteenth at the Norisring.

She returned to the DRM in 1974. Her finishing record was improved, although her race results were down on previous efforts: her best result was ninth in the last race at Hockenheim. She was also twelfth at the Nürburgring, eleventh at Mainz-Finthen, tenth at Hockenheim, sixteenth at the Nürburgring, fifteenth at Hockenheim and thirteenth at the Norisring.

Her ETCC season that year consisted of three races: Vallelunga, the Nürburgring and Zandvoort. The German round was a single-driver effort, and Waltraud was third in the three-litre touring class. For the Zandvoort race she was co-driven by Karl-Ludwig Weiss, and they were eleventh. Her best finish came at Vallelunga with Klaus Ludwig: fourth. She always seemed to run well on her occasional visits at Italian tracks.

Her other racing activities included a mediocre seventeenth in the Norisring Trophy. 1974 was a year of change for Waltraud, whose father’s sponsorship diminished, leaving her to enter her own cars for most of the year. She also married Ford racing mechanic Jochen Stöhr in September.  

1975 saw a smaller racing timetable for Waltraud than in previous years. Her activities were restricted to Germany and Austria, and there were no more ETCC races. She was supported by Odenthal Ford for her first race, a German sports and touring event in which she was eighth, but after that, she was mostly on her own. She was second in class at a similar event at the Salzburgring for the Diermeier team after failing to attend the Nürburgring DRM race. Her next race, at AVUS, resulted in a DNF, after an accident on the warm-up lap. Her first DRM start, at the Nürburgring, then gave her a seventh place, and her season started looking up. She followed this with her first major win at Mainz-Finthen, against Porsches and BMWs. This was followed by a touring class win at Ulm-Mengen, for Diermeier, and a eighth at Hockenheim in the DRM.

By 1976, it appears that Waltraud was winding down her racing career. Out of seven events for which she had registered, she attended four. The first was a sports and touring race at Sylt, in which she was sixth, behind former team-mate Clemens Schickentanz and Grand Prix driver Rolf Stommelen. Again in a self-supported Ford Capri, she took on three DRM races towards the end of the season, finishing fifth and ninth at Hockenheim and eighth at the Nürburgring.

She retired in 1977, after never really recovering from her AVUS accident in 1975. Her last race was a Group 5 event at the Nürburgring, and she was fourth in her own Capri. After retirement, she settled into family life, but she never really left motor racing behind, and makes semi-regular appearances at historic events in Germany.