Friday, 3 July 2015

Women in One-Make Series: South America

Manuela Vasquez in 2010

One-make racing series are popular in South America. Due in part to initiatives such as Formula HyundaiFemenina (Argentina) and the Brazilian Fiesta Championship, quite a lot of women have competed in them in the last 20 years.

Lorena Blanco – best known for racing in Fiat one-make championships in Argentina. She started off in the Fiat Linea Cup in 2010, entering the last few rounds, following some previous historic racing. She had another part-season in 2011, and made it into the top twenty on four occasions. The Linea series crossed over to using the Punto Abarth in 2012, and she improved her best finish to fifteenth. That year, she was the team-mate of a returning Marisa Panagopulo. A full season in the Punto in 2013 gave her two fifteenth places, and 24th overall. A final part-season in the Punto, in 2014, saw her finish fourteenth, three times, and end up in 32nd place overall. She does not appear to be racing in 2015.

Juliana Carreira - began racing in 1998, in a Vauxhall Corsa, participating in regional one-make races. She was involved in the women’s Corsa championship in 1999, and the later Fiesta version in 2001. In 1999, she also took part in four Corsa Metrocar (a mixed Corsa one-make series) races, finishing in the top five in three of them. She also raced in a Clio Cup in Brazil at some point. She is from a racing family, and drove in the 2003 Mil Milhas Brasileira with her brother, Luiz, and Denis de Freitas and Jose Venezian. They were 15th, in an Audi RS2G. Later, she also did some Stock Car racing, in 2006. She works in fashion and the media in Brazil. 

Carolina Eiras – did two seasons in the Fiat Linea Cup in Argentina, in 2010 and 2011. Her 2010 season is chiefly remembered for a spectacular crash into a lake at the Resistencia circuit, after which she was helped to safety by spectators. Her best finish was thirteenth, at Alta Gracia. In 2011, she did not complete as many races, managing three 19th places out of four starts. She is a former Olympic skier.

Julieta (Juli) Fernández - one of the front-runners in the Argentine Mini Challenge in 2013. She was third overall, just missing out on an actual win, but with two podium finishes and two podium positions. She did manage to win some at least one training race. This was her first experience of saloon car racing, although she did do some GT racing in 2009, aged 18. She drove a new Crespi prototype in the GT 2000 series for Oyikil Motorsport, although she did not finish her race. In 2010, she was linked to a drive in Formula 4, but she did not have the budget to compete. Previously, she was active in karting in Argentina for many years, and may have also competed in Formula 1100 briefly. 

Michelle de Jesus - Brazilian driver who has been competing since 2006. She started out in her regional championship in São Paulo. By 2010, she was second overall in the championship, a best-ever finish for a female driver. The following year, she moved into national-level competition, driving in a few rounds of the Brazilian Petrobras de Marcas Cup (in a Toyota Corolla) and the Mercedes Benz Grand Challenge (in a C250 CGI). As she only did a couple of races, she did not do enough to make her mark on the final standings. She returned to the Grand Challenge in 2012, this time mounting a full campaign. Her car was the same, run by the Pink Energy team. She was ninth overall, with a best finish of fifth , at Rio de Janeiro. For 2013, she changed marques, moving to the Mitsubishi Lancer Cup. She achieved her first podium, at third at Velo Città, on her way to another ninth overall finish. Early in the season, she also made her first trip to Europe, to participate in one round of the Euro Racecar series, at Dijon. She was thirteenth, in a Chevrolet Camaro. In 2014, she stayed in South America, competing in truck racing, and the Marcas e Pilotos Cup. Her car in the Cup was a Corsa, and she does not appear to have completed a full season. She was 25th in Formula Truck, after a part-season, and had a best result of eighth, at Brasilia. 

Carolina Larratea – Uruguayan driver from a motorsport family, who has been racing in the Chevrolet Sonic Cup since 2013. She was tenth in 2013, with a best finish of second, at El Pinar. In 2014, she scored her first outright win in the Cup, in the last round. This race was doubly notable in that two female drivers started on pole and second place. Carolina won the Sonic Ladies’ Cup. She continues to race a Chevrolet Sonic in 2015. 

Graziela (Zizi) Paioli - Brazilian driver who has raced in two different one-make championships. In 2007 and 2008, she had part-seasons in the Brazilian Clio Cup. In 2008, she finished tenth at Santa Cruz, her first Clio Cup top ten, and was 21st in the championship. After some time out, she returned to competition in 2011, in the Mercedes Benz Grand Challenge. Her car was a C250 run by her family team, Paioli Racing, as always. Her best finish was fourth, at Santa Cruz, and she also finished in the top ten on five more occasions. She was eleventh overall. Her father, Marco Paioli, is also a racer, who runs the team with Graziela’s mother. Graziela herself became a mother in early 2013, explaining her absence from the track. 

Marisa Panagopulo - Argentine driver, active since the 1990s. She seems to have started in 1994, in a Nissan Sentra, which she may have used in a women-only series that was shown on television. Certainly, in 1996, she was part of Formula Hyundai Femenina, a touring car championship for female drivers. That year, she also raced a Citroen AX in a Citroen one-make series, and made at least one appearance in Turismo Carretera Argentina, in a Ford Falcon. After that, she turned to karting for many years, before making a circuit comeback in 2012. With Delfina Frers, Lorena Blanco and Carolina Eiras, she was part of an all-female team for the Fiat Linea Cup. She was ninth in the Rosario race. Since then, she has returned to competitive karting, and made a guest appearance in the ASM Championship in 2014. She was driving a Fiat Uno. 

Manuela Vasquez (Blandon) - Colombian driver who mostly races in Europe. She started relatively late in karting, at 23, and first travelled to Europe as a karter, as part of an Italian team, for some international races. In 2010, she made the switch to cars. Driving for Monolite Racing, she entered eight rounds of the Italian Clio Cup, and was 24th overall. Her best finish was eighth, at Mugello. Back home, she did some TC2000 races in Colombia, in a Mazda 626. Her programme was similar in 2011, although she was now with Rangoni Corse in Europe. The season began in Italy, for the start of the Clio Cup, where she managed and eighth at Red Bull Ring and a tenth at Mugello. Towards the end of the season, she flew back to Colombia for two TC2000 races in a Chevrolet, at Bogotá, finishing fifth and eleventh, then it was back to Italy, where she scored her season’s-best two fifth places at Varano. She was thirteenth overall. The Clio Cup was her sole focus for 2012, but in Spain rather than Italy, taking in some Eurocup rounds. She was fifteenth in the championship, and top female driver, after at least two top-ten finishes, ninths at Navarra and Aragon. In 2013, she moved back to Italy and entered at least some of the Ginetta G50 Cup, still with Rangoni Corse. She scored at least one ninth place, in her first race at Misano, and was tenth overall. She also did some karting, as part of a Colmbian team. In 2014, she took part in some Top Race events in Argentina, and scored a fifth place at Rio Hondo. Her future aims include the British and World Touring Car Championships.

(Image from      

Monday, 29 June 2015

The Rallye Femminile Perla di Sanremo

Three-time winner, Paola della Chiesa

The Perla di Sanremo Rallye ran between 1952 and 1956. Recently, it was recognised as part of the history of the Rallye Sanremo, and its five editions were included in the yearly event numbering.

The Rallye was one of a number of events for female drivers that existed in Italy in the 1950s. Women-only hillclimbs and circuit races were a feature of Italian motorsport of the time, and attracted some talented drivers in genuine racing cars.

The first Rallye, in 1952, was around 500km long, and consisted of regularity trials, and two speed tests, held at the Ospedaletti circuit and the Poggio dei Fiori. Starting points included Milan, Padua, Monte Carlo, Turin and Lyon. The 1953 Rallye is described by some sources as being a reliability trial only, but this was an exception. Later events had high-speed tests at Monza, and the Colle-San Bartolomeo hillclimb. The distances covered gradually increased over the years, up to 1000km by the end, run over three days, rather than two.
Numbers of crews varied, but 22 was the largest entry.

The Rallye was cancelled after the closure of the Ospedaletti track, and a change in the rules about motorsport on public roads.

Contessa Paola della Chiesa was the star of the Perla di Sanremo, winning three times. She was also successful in other women’s events, and took part in mixed competition too. The young Luisa Rezzonico managed one win. Ada Pace was another well-known driver who took part at least once, in an Alfa Romeo.

Like all rallies of the time, the Perla di Sanremo had its share of tragedy; Giuliana Pini and her navigator, Margherita Pantaguzzi, were killed in an accident during a road section of the 1954 Rallye.

1952 Paola della Chiesa (Lancia Aurelia GT)
1953 Luisa Rezzonico (Lancia Aurelia)
1954 Paola della Chiesa (Alfa Romeo 1900)
1955 Paola della Chiesa (Lancia Aurelia B2)
1956 Goffreda Cambieri (Isetta)

(Image from

Friday, 26 June 2015

Ianina Zanazzi

Ianina in 2003

Ianina Zanazzi is an Argentine driver who has raced single-seaters in Europe and South America. In the early 2000s, she was recognised as a promising young driver, and occasionally tipped as the next woman in Formula One.

Compared to some, she got her start in motorsport quite late, at fourteen. She competed in karts for a year, then made her senior debut in 1997, in the all-female Formula Hyundai Femenina touring car series, which she combined with her school studies. She was not overly keen on the all-woman set-up, criticising the driving of some of her rivals, and moved on after one season.

In 1998, she moved into single-seater racing in Argentina. She ran in Formula Renault in Argentina, as well as some Formula Honda races. In June, she became the first woman to win a Formula Renault race in Argentina, at Rio Cuarto. As she did not complete the season, she was only 29th in the championship, but her skill was now being noted.

She contested Formula Super Renault in 1999, and won the National class outright.

Having worked her way up the Argentine junior formulae, she graduated to SudAm Formula 3 in 2000, in the Light class. She was competitive straight away, scoring two class wins and ten podiums from 18 races. Her final position was second in the Light class. This was in spite of some off-track trouble, when her team-mate was accused of sabotaging her car. Ianina crashed during a testing session, skidding on a patch of oil that had not been there on her previous lap. She was running late at the track, having had problems earlier in the day, and was the only driver there. A hole in the trackside fence nearby was found, and foul play was suspected. Nothing was ever proved.

Despite the negative media attention, a test in Toyota Atlantics for the Hylton team followed, with a view to progressing towards CART, but this did not lead to a competition drive.
In 2001, she tried to put this disappointment behind her, and concentrate on her on-track successes. She took another step up, into the top-level SudAm F3 championship. Driving for two different teams, she had a best finish of fifth, and was thirteenth overall, after seven races. Early in the season, she made her first forays into European motorsport, making a guest appearance in the Italian Formula Renault championship. She was fifteenth at Estoril, driving for the BVM Minardi Junior team.

She moved to Spain for Spanish Formula 3 in 2002, but only completed half of the season, driving for GTA Motor Competition. She was 21st in the championship, with a best finish of tenth, at Estoril. One of her rivals was Maria de Villota.  

At home, she made a couple of guest appearances in TC Pista Argentina, a touring car series. She raced a Ford Falcon.

It was back home to Argentina in 2003, for the Formula Renault championship. She was driving for the Crespi team, and was not among the front-runners. She did not complete the season, and was 21st overall. She also repeated her 2002 TC Pista guest spots, in the same car.

Briefly, she reappeared in 2004, contesting Class Two of Argentine Touring Cars in a VW Golf. She completed seven races and scored nine points. After that, she disappeared from the competition scene.

After that, she worked as a performance driving instructor. In 2009, her profile was raised again by her support of the young Argentine driver, Violeta Pernice, in the Top Race Junior series.
By 2012, she was described as a “former racing driver” in interviews. Her current activities are unclear.

(Image from

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Joanna Clarke

Joanna in the Clio

Joanna Clarke is one of a select group of female racers who have competed in the modern British Touring Car Championship.

Her first senior races were in 1998, at the wheel of a Peugeot 306, in a club meet at Silverstone. This followed several years of karting, with multiple race wins, partly achieved through a school team.

Early in her career, she w as a promising single-seater driver. During her first season, she tried her hand at Formula Ford and Formula Vauxhall Junior, coming third in a Vauxhall series. She won her class in a British Formula Ford race at Donington in 1999. This, and some other strong finishes, gave her third place overall in the First Division class. At the end of the year, she was awarded the BWRDC’s Monoposto Award, for the most successful single-seater driver.

She later ran well in the 2000 Ford Fiesta Zetec championship, with a best finish of fourth. She was racing against her fellow future BTCC drivers, Gordon Shedden and Gareth Howell. As she had been awarded a Ladies’ Cup, she received a prize drive consisting of a test in a Ford Mondeo.

The Ford test did not lead to a BTCC drive, but part-way through the season, she was signed up by eccentric millionaire, John B&Q’s team. She was deputising for John B&Q (John Batchelor) himself, driving a Honda Integra Type-R in the Production class. Her first races, at Knockhill, gave her a fourteenth and sixteenth place, from the back of the grid, and one tenth place in class. She was 18th at Snetterton, but did not finish the second race, and her final meeting, Croft, was a bit of a disaster, with a blown engine on lap one of the first race, which meant she was unable to start the next second. Her team-mate, Mark Beaumont, suffered the same fate. She was 25th in the Production drivers’ championship.

In September, Joanna also drove in the Renault Clio Cup for the Mardi Gras team, as one of their usual drivers, Duncan Vercoe, was unavailable. She was 16th in one race, at Silverstone, from 23rd on the grid.

A lack of finances kept Joanna away from motorsport for quite a long time. In 2004, she did some Legends racing, but was not really competitive.

She has not been active in motorsport since then.

(Image from

Monday, 15 June 2015

Marta Candian

A Hawk Racing Club Renault Clio. This is not Marta Candian driving!

Marta Candian was an Italian driver who competed in WRC rallies between 1999 and 2001.

She is a very enigmatic figure; I have been unable to find any pictures of her. A Rallysprint magazine cover from 2000 shows that she had some media profile at the time, as part of an article on female drivers, including Lara Battistolli, Mascha Mularo and Enrica Munaretto. Despite this attention, biographical details about Marta are extremely hard to come by.
She deserves to have a full Speedqueens profile due to her World Championship participation. If a European Ladies’ Championship were being awarded in 2000, she would probably have won it.

The earliest record of Marta as a competitor appears in 1995, when she co-drove for Emanuele Zecchin. They did the Piancavallo Rally together twice, in 1995 and 1996, finishing once.

In 1998, she starts to appear in major rallies as a driver. She was associated with the Hawk Racing Club team, and she drove both a Ford Escort RS Cosworth and a Renault Clio Williams for them that year. She was 49th in the Isola d’Elba Rally in the Clio, but did not finish the Rallye d’Antibes in the Escort.

In 1999 she used a Renault Clio Williams on the Portugal, Catalunya and Corsica rounds of the World Rally Championship. She finished the Tour de Corse in 48th place, her first WRC finish. As well as her southern European WRC rallies, she did some ERC events in the Clio and a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 5. Her best result was tenth on the Rally d’Antibes, in the Mitsubishi, and she was third in Group N. The Lancer was run by the Hawk Racing Club team again.

She drove the Lancer in the Monte Carlo, Portugal and Catalunya rallies in 2000, and managed to finish the Catalunya Rally in 32nd. She was 47th on the Monte, but the engine on the Lancer failed in Portugal.

In 2001 she tackled Corsica and Catalunya, and was seventh in Group N in Corsica, fifth in N4 and 33rd overall. As ever, her navigator was Mara Biotti, who sat beside her in all of her major rally outings.

After 2001, Marta disappears from the scene completely. She seems to have been linked to a drive in Rally Argentina, but this never occurred.

Any further information about Marta and Mara, or any pictures, would be most welcome.

(Image from

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Speedqueens FAQ

All you need to know about Speedqueens:

How many drivers are featured on Speedqueens?
I've actually lost count. It's over a thousand now.

Where do you get your pictures from?
Google images, mostly, with some provided by acquaintances, and a few taken by me. I try to credit where possible. If I have used your picture and you would like me to remove it, please let me know, and I will deal with it straight away.

Are there any criteria for who gets written about on Speedqueens?
Yes. The blog is open to all female drivers who have competed at a reasonably high level of motorsport - enough to receive media coverage. Drivers from all wheel-to-wheel racing disciplines and stage rallying are eligible. Due to space constraints, I don't write about rally co-drivers, kartists, drag racers or sprint/hillclimb drivers at the moment. Generally, a driver should have competed in more than one race to be featured, although there are some exceptions to this rule (pre-1910 drivers, for example).

Are you the poster, LotusElise from The Nostalgia Forum?
I am!

Does Speedqueens have a Facebook or Twitter account?
The Speedqueens Facebook page can be found here. My personal Twitter is here.

Can I email you?
Certainly. Please use the "profile" link at the bottom of the page.

Would you be able to write some copy for my website/promo campaign/periodical?
Yes! If you want to work with Speedqueens, I handle all of that side of things from the Facebook page linked above.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Speedqueens sends its condolences to the family and friends of Smokey Drolet

Smokey Drolet (in car) with Donna Mae Mims


Smokey's profile.
(Image from