Sunday, 29 November 2015

Sarah Bovy

Sarah (left) on the BRCC podium in 2012

Sarah Bovy is a Belgian driver who competes in Europe, and is based in Belgium.

She started her senior motorsport career in 2004, in the Formula Renault Academy. She was just fifteen years old, and reached the final on her first attempt. The following year, she joined the Belgian Formula Renault 1.6 championship, and scored two podiums. She was driving for Thierry Boutsen’s team. Sadly, her funding ran out after only three races.

Although she had showed promise in single-seaters, it was saloon cars that she initially gravitated towards. Her first Spa 12 Hours was in 2006, and she was 18th in a Renault Clio. She also took part in the 10h Zolder race and the BTCS 25 Hours in the Clio, as part of a multi-driver team. For the 12 Hour event, she was a guest driver in the Speed Action team. This was after another guest spot in the Belgian Legends championship, which gave Sarah a win. At the end of the season, she was named as the Belgian female driver of the year.   

In 2007, she took a step up, and moved into international sportscar competition. She drove a Gillet Vertigo Streiff for Belgian Racing. Sharing with the experienced Renaud Kuppens, she was 34th in the Spa 12 Hours. The pair were joined by Bas Leinders for the Spa 24 Hours, but did not finish. Sarah was 18 years old, and one of the youngest people to have driven a sportscar on the Spa circuit. She had also only just passed her road driving test.

For the next two seasons, she undertook testing and development work in a variety of different cars, supported by Gravity Sport Management. She did not do any competitive racing.

At the start of 2010, Sarah was back in a sportscar, driving a Porsche 996 in the first round of the Belcar championship, at Zolder. She and her team-mate, “Brody”, were 26th. She tried to qualify the Porsche for the Spa 24 Hours, but could not manage. Later, she returned to the Belgian Touring Car Championship (BTCS) and drove a Mitsubishi Lancer for the first time. She did two races with Jean-Pierre de Wauwer, and was 18th in the championship after one podium finish. Her BTCS programme included the Spa 12 Hours, and she was seventh. Round-the-clock enduros were something of a theme for 2010, as she also raced in the VW Fun Cup 25 Hours, held at Spa.

In 2011, she was meant to race a Ginetta for JHR Developments in the British GT Championship, but the deal fell through. Instead, she carried on with development work for Formula 3. For the past couple of seasons, she had spent time helping to develop a number of cars. For a change, she competed in the Rally Televie in a Porsche Cayman, and towards the end of the year, she was one of the finalists for the FIA Women in Motorsport Scirocco-R Shootout. She did not win the Scirocco Cup prize drive.

In 2012, it was back to sportscars, and she drove a McLaren MP4-12C in the Spa 24 Hours with Boutson Ginion Racing. The team consisted of Sarah, Marlène Broggi, Jérôme Thiry and Massimo Vignali. They did not finish. For the rest of the year, she was involved in the BRCC series, in a GC10 V8 BMW. She was second in her class of the Long Races championship, as part of a rotating squad of drivers for the GC team.  

In 2013, she raced the GC10 in the Dutch GT championship, finishing eighth in one race at Spa and fifth in another. She was twelfth overall in the BRCC Long Race category, with two class wins, and won the Silhouette ProEvo class. She also became the first woman to race an Aston Martin Vantage GT3, in the Spa 24 Hours, but she did not finish.

In 2014, the Long Race series was dropped, and she did not take part in the BRCC.  

2015 was mostly spent in the Renault Sport Trophy. She drove a Renault RS in some races at Spa. She was third in a Prestige (sprint) race, and fourth in an Endurance race. Her team-mate was Michela Cerruti. Away from Renault, she drove a works-supported Peugeot 208 in the Hankook 24h Series, for Team Altran. She raced at Mugello and Brno. The Brno 12 Hours gave her a class win, and 14th overall, driving in a team of three. A different team, including Sarah, did not quite get to the end of the Mugello race.

She is the daughter of Quirin Bovy, who raced touring cars in Europe in the 1970s and 1980s.

(Image copyright 

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Burcu Çetinkaya

Burcu Çetinkaya is a Turkish driver who has competed in Europe, and in the WRC.

She began her rally career in 2005, after several years of representing Turkey in snowboarding competitions. Her first car was a Fiat Palio, and her first rally, the Hittite Rally, in which she was 45th, ninth in class. Not long afterwards, she entered the Fiat Rally, an ERC round, and was 23rd overall. This was her best result of the year.

After her first European championship rally in 2005, she entered her first World Championship event in 2006. She drove in the Rally of Turkey, and was 50th overall, driving a Ford Fiesta. Another run in the Fiat Rally gave her a 21st place, and she performed strongly in the Istanbul Castrol Rallysprint events, earning a ninth an eighth place. This year, she won her first Turkish ladies’ championship.

The Fiesta would prove to be her regular car for several seasons. In 2007, she kept expanding her horizons, and entered her first overseas rallies. She took part in four rounds of the Belgian championship, taking in classic events like the Ypres-Westhoek and Condroz-Huy rallies. She ran quite well in the Haspengouw Rally, and was 28th overall. Mid-season, she travelled to the Czech Republic for the Barum Rally, and was 43rd, with a class second. Her season finale was a second WRC round, the Wales Rally GB, in which she was 63rd. In between, she still played an active part in her domestic championship, and won a second Turkish Ladies’ Cup. Her best events were the Istanbul and Yeşil Bursa rallies, in which she was fifteenth.

Her involvement with Ford deepened in 2008, when she entered the Fiesta Castrol Sporting Trophy, supported by Castrol Ford Team Turkey. Her WRC programme expanded to six rounds: Italy (Sardinia), Turkey, Finland, Germany, Spain and Great Britain. She finished all six. Predictably, the Rally of Turkey was her best event, and she won her class. She was 25th overall. Away from home, she continued to enter Belgian rallies, with mixed results, the best of these being a 31st place in the Rallye de Wallonie. At home, she achieved her first top-ten finish, a tenth place in the Yeşil Bursa Rally, with a class win. Another class win in the Istanbul Rally was very welcome, and helped her to twelfth in the Turkish championship, and a Class N3 title. The only real bad point of 2008 was a spectacular crash in the Ypres Rally, in Belgium.

At the end of 2008, Burcu experimented with other cars, and drove a Mitsubishi Lancer in the Istanbul rallysprints. The beginning of 2009 saw her continue to experiment, with a Fiat Abarth Grand Punto. She guested in the Italian championship, entering the Rally Adriatico with none other than Fabrizia Pons, the former co-driver of Michele Mouton. They were 39th overall. Later in the season, Burcu returned to Italy for the Azzano Rally, on gravel, but in a Peugeot 207 this time. She was 17th, with her usual navigator, Cicek Güney.

Despite the new cars, the Fiesta remained her main mount, and she had a second try at some of the Fiesta Sporting Trophy rounds. Poland was her best outing in the WRC, and she was 28th, fifth in class. She retired from the RACC Rally Spain, and finished in the forties in the UK and Finland. It was in the Turkish championship that she really found her feet, with four top-ten finishes: fifth in the Kocaeli Rally, eighth in the Hittite Rally, seventh in the Istanbul Rally and ninth in the Ege Rally. Two of these were also class wins.

For 2010, she switched allegiance from Ford to Peugeot, and drove for the Peugeot Turkey team in a Super 2000-spec 207. Her schedule was a mix of WRC and IRC events, beginning with the Rally of Turkey in April. She was a career-best twelfth. Retirements from the Sardinia and Ypres Rallies followed, then a 19th place in the Rally Vinho Madeira. Her second WRC event, Germany, ended in another retirement, before indifferent finishes in the Barum and Sanremo Rallies. Her best result of the year was in the Scottish Rally, where she was eighth, getting herself onto the IRC points leaderboard, in 37th place. Her last IRC rally was Cyprus, in which she was fifteenth.  

In 2011, she tried three different cars: an S2000 Fiat Punto and Skoda Fabia, and a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX. At the start of the year, she used the Fiat in Turkish rallies. She retired from the Bosphorus and Kocaeli rallies, but was eighth in the Istanbul Rally. Her first event in the Skoda was a second visit to the Scottish Rally, but this too ended in retirement. After that, her schedule was centred around the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East, as opposed to Europe, as in previous years. She did two more events in the Skoda, the Cyprus and Hittite rallies, finishing 17th in Cyprus and fifth in the Hittite Rally. Moving on to a new “playing field” and a bigger car, she was fifth in the Dubai Rally, and third in a round of the Qatar championship.

Driving the Group N Lancer, she competed exclusively in the Middle East in 2012. She rallied a lot in Qatar, and started the year with a fourth place in the Qatar International Rally. A string of podium finishes in the Qatar championship gave her second overall, and she managed another top ten in the Middle East championship, finishing eighth in Dubai.

Her season in 2013 was quite similar, although she only finished on the podium once in Qatar, and was seventh in the championship. In the MERC, she was eleventh in Kuwait and fourteenth in Jordan, but retired from the Dubai Rally.

She did not compete in 2014, instead returning to her studies, moving to a new area and embracing religion.

In 2015, she returned to the Turkish championship, which was now the home of a few other female drivers. Her best result was ninth, in the North Cyprus Rally, and she was also tenth in the Kocaeli and Çanakkale rallies. Her car was still the Group N Mitsubishi.

Between 2008 and 2010, Burcu was the highest-ranked female rally driver in the world. As well as her motorsport activities, she also works as a presenter on Turkish television.  

(Image from

Monday, 23 November 2015

"Valli" (Valerie Stack)

Valli's helmet, and portraits of her

“Valli” was the nom de course of Valerie Stack, a 1970s saloon racer, and Biba model, who managed to claim some good race finishes and a string of lap records too. She raced between 1975 and 1977, driving an MG Midget, Lotus Europa and Triumph TR7 with Biba sponsorship.

Her name first became known in motorsport circles in 1975, for reasons not related to her on-track performance. She was photographed sunbathing topless at Mallory Park, and the pictures were published in the British motoring press. Valli was already working as a model, and at that time, was in a relationship with racer and track owner, Chris Meek.  He encouraged her to drive one of his racing cars, and her first track appearance was more of a modelling assignment than a race, just doing some demonstration laps in an MG Midget. Meek saw that she took to the car quite well, and offered her some actual racing, in the Midget. Despite having few ambitions in that direction, she decided to give it a go, and entered the BRSCC Production Sports Car Championship. Her early races were hard work, and some ended in spins, but she was soon picking up class awards, including two at Croft. Biba, the fashion label for which she had modelled, was the main sponsor of her MG Midget, which carried a striking black and gold livery.

Away from motorsport, Valli’s professional life took a different direction in 1976. She moved away from modelling and into music production, working alongside her future husband, Emile Ford, and producing one of his albums. Her relationship with Chris Meek must have been over by then, but he continued to support her in her racing activities. She was active in Production Sports Cars again in 1976, and was one of the leading drivers in her class. She set lap records for production sports cars worth £2000 and under at Brands Hatch, Aintree, Castle Combe, Rufforth and Ingliston.

The BWRDC gave her their award for the most successful woman driver in 1976, as well as its Best Newcomer title.

In 1977, she raced a Triumph TR7 in Production Sports, also owned by Meek and sponsored by Biba. She came second in at least one race, at her favoured circuit of Croft. At some point, she raced a Lotus Europa, again owned by Meek, part of a two-car team with him, but no results are forthcoming.

That year, her name was linked to a Land Speed Record project, Blue Star, led by Dave Gossling. Valli was said to be considering an attempt on Lee Breedlove’s women’s record, by no less than Motor Sport magazine. Drag racer Tony Densham and Formula One driver, David Purley, were linked to the project too, but it never came to fruition, as Dave Gossling was killed in an accident before the car was even built.

Valli retired from motorsport after 1977, following her marriage to Emile Ford and subsequent pregnancy. She is rather an obscure figure now, although she is remembered fondly by some motor racing fans who saw her in action.

(Image copyright “Sherbet Hamilton”)

Friday, 20 November 2015

Sanna Pinola

Sanna Pinola was a front-runner in Finnish and Nordic Formula 3 during the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Born in 1975, she got into motorsport at an early age, and was karting by 1983, when she was eight. Her lengthy karting career took her up to 1992.

At seventeen, she moved up to cars, and gravitated towards single-seaters. She did at least some races in Formula 4 in 1993, and drove in the Finnish Formula 4 Championship for the Sami Pensala team in 1994.

Her activities are less clear for 1995 and 1996. She remained in Formula 4 with her 1994 team in 1995, and had a heavy crash at the Botniaring, which she came through unscathed. The following year, she may have stayed with the same team, and seems likely to have still been involved with Formula 4.

In 1997, she posted at least one win in Formula 4, in the first round at Hämeenlinna. Her final championship position is not forthcoming.

Her final season of Formula 4 was in 1998. She was ninth in the championship. After that, it was time to move on to the next level.

Sanna’s next challenge was Formula 3. Her season in the Nordic championship had a steady start, with an eighth and sixth place at Anderstorp, in Sweden. By the next meeting, also at Anderstorp, she had learned the car, and scored two third places. In August, at the Jyllandsring, she finished on the podium again, and was then second in the second race. Her home races, at Alastaro, were a slight let-down, as she only finished one of them, but she was still a strong fifth overall in the championship.

A move to the Vaisanen F3 team for the 2000 Scandinavian championship did not go completely smoothly, and she missed some races at the start of the season. Throughout the summer, she struggled to reach the top three, until the Hämeenlinna race, which she won. This took her up to fourth in the Scandinavian series, and fifth in the Swedish championship.

In the summer of 2000, she became part of a tiny group of women who have driven modern Formula One cars, albeit not in a standard race setting. She drove a Minardi two-seater in a demonstration run at Kemora.

She stayed with the same team in 2001, and registered in the Finnish F3 Championship. As expected, she was immediately on the pace, and was second in her second race, at Alastaro. The first meeting at Hämeenlinna was underwhelming, but she won again on her second visit, from pole. A pair of DNFs at Botniaring was a disappointment, but she was on the podium again at Alastaro, in second place. A final visit to Hämeenlinna was a damp squib; although Sanna qualified on pole, she could only finish tenth in the first race, and did not start the second. This was only a minor disappointment, however, as she won the Scandinavian championship, and was seventh in the Finnish.

In 2002, she concentrated on the Finnish championship. This year, she was stronger than ever, and won three times, and finished on the podium on two further occasions. She was in the lead for much of the season, and would have won the championship had it not been for a crash involving Jari Koivisto, which allowed Jussi Pinomäki to leapfrog her on the leaderboard. Koivisto was third, just behind her.

After this, Sanna had a race seat fall through on her, and sadly faded from the motorsport scene. She had been set to contest the German F3 series, then the premier European F3 championship, but fraud by one of her managers meant that she lost her funding, and could not take part.

She carried on with some TV work for a little while, having been part of an MTV Finland stunt/prank show since 1999, but then retired from public life completely. She is apparently now working in a field unrelated to motorsport.

Sanna clearly had pace, and the ability to qualify and defend a lead. The ongoing debate over female drivers in Formula One would have been much more interesting, had she been able to progress further.

(Image from

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Female Drivers at the Bathurst 1000

Christine Gibson

The Bathurst 1000 is Australia’s premier home-grown motorsport event. It began in 1960 as the Armstrong 500, and was actually held at Phillip Island for the first three years.

In 1963, it moved to its present home, as an endurance race for production touring cars, on sale in Australia. Until the mid-1960s, awards were strictly class-based, with no overall results published. Gradually, the rules were relaxed, with foreign-model cars permitted, and overseas drivers, raising its profile within international motorsport. Its length was increased to 1000 kilometres in 1973.

For a long time, the race stuck to its production-car origins. In 1985, it switched to Group A rules, and was part of the ITC global touring car championship in 1987, then in the early 1990s, it became open to cars running to Super Touring spec. This created a rift with the growing V8 Supercar championship, who, due to a TV broadcast agreement at odds with that of the original Bathurst 1000, created their own in 1997. The Australia 1000 ran alongside the original race for three years, before becoming part of the V8 Supercar championship in 2000.

Women drivers have raced in the event almost from the start, and were particularly numerous in the 1960s and 1970s. Christine Gibson (Cole) is the most prolific female starter, with nine attempts to her name. She also shares the best finish for a female driver with Marie-Claude Beaumont: sixth. The best finish for an all-female team is eleventh, achieved by the “Castrol Cougars”, Kerryn Brewer and Melinda Price, in 1998.

Following the inclusion of the 1000 into the V8 Supercar calendar, female participation has reduced drastically. In 2015, the first female entrants for six years were Simona de Silvestro and Renee Gracie.  

Phillip Island (race length: 500 miles)
Anne Bennett/Diane Leighton/Pam Murison (Simca Aronde) – 3rd, Class C

Mount Panorama (race length: 500 miles)
Lorraine Hill/Warren Blomfield (Morris Elite) – 16th, Class B

Lorraine Hill/Brian Reed (Hillman Imp) – 13th, Class A

Jane Richardson/Midge Whiteman (Morris 1100S) – 36th

Christine Gibson/Midge Whiteman (Morris Mini) – 41st

Diane Dickson/Max Dickson (Ford Cortina) – 31st
Sandra Bennett/Arthur Olsen (Morris Mini) – 36th
Carole Corness/Ann Thompson (Morris Mini) – DNF
Christine Gibson/Lynne Keefe (Fiat 125) – DNF

Sandra Bennett/Christine Cole (Gibson) – (Holden LC Torana) – 13th
Lynne Keefe/Arthur Olsen (Morris Mini Cooper S) – 36th
Carole Corness/Gloria Taylor (Ford Escort MkI) – 42nd

Jan Holland/Pat Peck (Holden LC Torana) – 29th

Christine Gibson/Jan Holland (Holden LC Torana) – DNF
Pat Peck (Holden LC Torana) – DNF

Race length: 1000 kilometres
Caroline O’Shanesy/Peter Williamson (Morris Mini Cooper S) – 26th
Christine Gibson/Sue Ransom (Alfa Romeo GTV 2000) – DNF
Pat Peck/Darrilyn Huitt (Holden LJ Torana) – DNF

Marie-Claude Beaumont/John Leffler (Alfa Romeo GTV 2000) – 6th
Sue Ransom/Bill Brown (Ford Escort RS2000) – 11th
Caroline O’Shanesy/David Booth (Morris Mini Cooper S) – 27th

Marie-Claude Beaumont/Christine Gibson (Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTAm) – DNF
Caroline O’Shanesy/Garry Leggatt (Fiat 128 3P) – DNF

Sue Ransom/Russell Skaife (Ford Capri) – DNF
Janet Guthrie/Johnny Rutherford (Holden LX Torana) – DNF

Sue Ransom/Bill Brown (Ford Capri) – DNF
Robyn Hamilton/Ralph Radburn (Holden LX Torana) – DNF

Sue Ransom/Neville Bridges (Holden VB Commodore) – 22nd
Alexandra Surplice/John Gates (Toyota Corolla) – 28th

Christine Gibson/Joe Moore (Ford XD Falcon) – 6th
Alexandra Surplice/Doug Clark (Toyota Corolla) – DNF

Christine Gibson/Bob Muir (Nissan Pulsar) – DNF

Alexandra Surplice/Bob Holden (Toyota Sprinter) – 26th
Christine Gibson/Glenn Seton (Nissan Pulsar) – DNF

1987 (ITC)
Annette Meeuvissen/Mercedes Stermitz/Roland Ratzenberger (BMW M3) – DNF

Heather Spurle/Bob Jones (Holden VL Commodore) – 26th

Melinda Price/Garry Jones/Andrew Reid (Toyota Corolla) – DNF

Jenni Thompson/Aaron McGill/Terry Skene (Ford Mondeo) – DNF

FAI Australia 1000 (race length: 1000km)
Melinda Price/Kerryn Brewer (Holden VS Commodore) – 12th

The Castrol Cougars: (l-r) Melinda Price, Kim Watkins (never drove), Kerryn Brewer

Heidi O’Neil/Paula Elstrek/Damien Digby (Ford Mondeo) – DNF
Jenni Thompson/Mike Fitzgerald (Peugeot 405) – DNF

FAI Australia 1000
Melinda Price/Kerryn Brewer (Holden VS Commodore) – 11th
Nicole Pretty/Nathan Pretty/Grant Johnson (Holden VS Commodore) - DNF

(race length: 500 miles)
Debbie Chapman/Dennis Chapman (BMW 320i) – 10th
Jenni Thompson/Allan Letcher (BMW 318i) – 12th
Leanne Ferrier (Tander)/Dean Canto (Ford Mondeo) – DNF

FAI Australia 1000 (race length: 1000 miles)
Melinda Price/Dean Lindstrom (Holden VS Commodore) – 17th

Melinda Price/Dean Lindstrom (Holden VS Commodore) – 20th

Leanne Ferrier/Paul Dumbrell (Holden VX Commodore) – DNF

Leanne Tander/David Wall (Ford BF Falcon) – 29th

Renee Gracie/Simona de Silvestro (Ford FG X Falcon) – 21st

(C. Gibson image copyright News Corp Australia)

Friday, 6 November 2015

Female Drivers in One-Make Series: Hungary

Vivien Keszthelyi

Hungarian female drivers are making big strides into their domestic motorsport scene. The current favoured series is the RCM Cup, which allows very young drivers to race alongside more experienced competitors. The Lotus Ladies’ Cup also attracted a largely Hungarian field, especially in its earlier seasons.

Annamaria Abari – Hungarian-born, but now a US passport holder. She did some races in the 2014 RCM Suzuki Swift Cup, finishing 19th overall, with a best finish of ninth, at the Pannoniaring. Previously, she competed in karting in the USA, and she returned to senior competition after her Hungarian races. She was also a competitive swimmer.

Edina Bús - winner of the Lotus Ladies’ Cup in 2011 and 2012, after an appeal in the case of the 2012 championship. She has 17 wins from 24 races in that series. Before the Ladies’ Cup, she raced Suzuki Swifts in her native Hungary. In 2008, she was fourth in the Hungarian Suzuki Swift Cup, and in 2009, ninth. In 2010, she raced in a bio-fuelled version of the Swift Cup, and was fourth in that. As part of the Ladies’ Cup, she has undertaken various media duties for Lotus. Her activities in 2013 included racing a Ferrari in the Central Europe Zone championship, alongside Norbert Kiss. She also did one race in India as part of the Lotus Ladies set-up. In 2014, she raced in the SEAT Leon Eurocup. Her best result was eighth, at Salzburg. She was 21st overall. 

Anett György – races in the RCM Suzuki Swift Cup in Hungary. Her first season in the Championship was 2014, when she joined part-way through. Her best finish was fourteenth. In 2015, she did the full championship, and was a much improved driver. Her best finishes were two sixth places, and she was tenth in the championship. Prior to her Suzuki experiences, she raced in the Lotus Ladies’ Cup in Eastern Europe, from 2013. She was a solid performer from the start, and achieved her first podium finish, a third, near the end of the season. She was fifth overall. After the shortened 2014 season, she was fourth, with three third places and one pole position. During her first Lotus season, she became one of a tiny handful of father/daughter racing pairs to compete in FIA-sanctioned series at the same meeting. Her father, Gábor, also competes in the RCM Cup.

Stefánia Havellant - Hungarian driver in her first season of racing in 2014. She competes in the Suzuki Swift Cup, in the Hungarian national class. Her best result has been seventh, at the Slovakiaring. She does not appear to have completed all of her races this season. Stefánia may well be from a motorsport family, as there are others in Hungarian motorsport with the surname Havellant.

Vivien Kezsthelyi - Hungarian driver who had her first senior races in 2014, aged only thirteen years. She is competing in the Suzuki Swift Cup in Central and Eastern Europe. Her best result has been second, at the Panonniaring, and she regularly visits the top ten. This is all despite having almost no prior motorsport experience. She also competes as a rally navigator.

Vivien Miss – raced in the RCM Swift Suzuki Cup in Hungary in 2014. She did a part-season in the second half of the year, driving for the Proex team. Her best finish was fourteenth, and she was 23rd in the championship. She was competing alongside her father, János Miss. She does not appear to have raced in 2015.  

Diána Simon – Hungarian driver who races in the Suzuki Swift Cup in Europe. She is a team-mate to Vivien Keszthelyi in 2015. Her best result so far has been a 17th place. Diána is still only fifteen years old, but under Hungarian motorsport authority rules, can race as a senior. 2015 is her first year of senior competition.

(Image from

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Barbara Cowell (Babbage)

The Kimber-Smith/Cowell Corolla in 1987

Barbara raced in the British Touring Car Championship in 1988 and 1989.

The first award she won in the world of motorsport was a first place in a fancy dress car parade at Long Eaton stock car track, in 1973. Barbara dressed up as a mermaid on a car sheeted up as rocks, next to driver Tony Allen, who was Neptune.

The Long Eaton track was the scene of her first driving exploits, too, as a junior driver in Ministox. She progressed through the junior and senior ranks, and by 1978, when she was twenty, she was the British Mini-Rod champion. Three years later, in 1981, she was British, European and World Mini-Rod champion.

As she had won almost everything she could in short-oval Mini-Rods, it was a natural progression into long circuit racing in a Mini in 1982. She entered the Mini Seven championship, and was eleventh overall in her first year. This was enough to earn her the Novices award.

In 1983, she moved steadily up the Mini racing ranks, and ended the year as the Lydden Hill Mini Seven champion. In 1984, she was second in the overall championship, winning herself the BWRDC’s Embassy Trophy, and their Racing championship trophy.

For the next few seasons, Barbara raced different cars in the Uniroyal Production Saloon championship. She received support from Gerry Marshall, who prepared her Fiat Strada in 1985, and later provided her with a Vauxhall Astra GTE. She enjoyed some success in these cars, but it was in a Suzuki Swift that she really shone, winning Class D in 1987 with five victories. This gave her second overall in the championship. One of her wins was a two-driver enduro at the end of the season, at Brands Hatch, and she shared the car with Geoff Kimber-Smith. In September, the same driver pairing tackled the Tourist Trophy at Silverstone, a round of the International Touring Car Championship. They drove a Toyota Corolla, but did not finish.

Following on from her Production Saloon wins and ITC experience, it was a logical step for Barbara to test herself further in the British Touring Car Championship.

Her 1988 BTCC season started with the two-driver enduro at Donington, sharing Geoff Kimber-Smith’s Toyota Corolla again. They were fourteenth overall, and won their class. Later in the season, she used a Ford Escort RS1600i run by the North Essex Motorsport team. She was 19th in the Brands Hatch 1000km support race, second in class, but then did not make it to the finish at Snetterton or Brands. She did not qualify for the Birmingham Superprix street race, but it was cancelled anyway, but then the same happened at Donington. In the last race of the season, at Silverstone, she was 18th overall.

That year, she also found time for some Production Saloon races, in a BMW M3. Her best result seems to have been a class win at Castle Combe.

In 1989, she renewed her partnership with Kimber-Smith and the Corolla for one race, at Donington, but did not finish due to a misfire. Illness limited her activities this year, and it was her only BTCC race.

After 1989, she raced less, but she remained competitive in Production Saloons. She took a year off in 1990 to set up a performance driving school, and to marry Peter Babbage. Now competing as Barbara Babbage, she raced the Swift again in 1991, achieving some more top-ten overall finishes.

In 1993, she raced in the Willhire 24 Hours in a Honda Civic. She was part of an all-female team with Clare Redgrave and Kirsten Kolby. They were fourth. They apparently took part in two other enduros that year, with similar success, but the results are not forthcoming.

In either 1993 or 1994, she raced a Peugeot 106 in Production Saloons, scoring at least one second place at Silverstone. 1994 was her last season; it was becoming increasingly difficult for Barbara to find the sponsorship needed to compete at a level of which she was capable. She retired and started a family. In 1994, she became one of the first women to be given full membership of the British Racing Drivers’ Club.

(Image from