Women in Motor Sport: Powering into History

Briony Serrell exits the Crossing Bend at Shelsley Walsh in her Lotus 51A

Following last month’s post on the social history of women in motor sport, I have a bit of an update for you all. Things have been quite exciting this month for at least two of my favourite drivers. The first triumph was for Jamie Chadwick, on her second weekend racing single-seaters for Double RR Racing in the BRDC British Formula Three Championship (following on from her great success in GT Cars last year).

Starting on pole in the second of three championship races held at Rockingham Motor Speedway in Northamptonshire on the 30th of April 2017 (Formula Three has some odd methods of ordering the grids for the three rounds held on each championship weekend – detail here for those who are interested – and yes, one round is contested in Belgium), Jamie fought a tough race against the boys to eventually finish in third and earn her first podium spot in the formula, putting her in 9th place on 54 points after the first 6 rounds. Full details and photos here and here.

Sarah Thorne enters Bottom S at Shelsley Walsh in her Lotus 61/69 Special

Meanwhile, back with my original motor sport obsession, Speed Hillclimb, the weekend of May the 6th and 7th saw the opening competitive event of 2017 at Shelsley Walsh. I was there on the Sunday, which by all accounts had by far the better weather, meaning potentially faster competition runs and certainly improved photographic opportunities. Several women competed in different classes, with very different modern and historic cars. The line-up included Briony Serrell in the Lotus 51A (Sports Racing and Racing Cars manufactured up to 1985, and Classic Saloons and Sports Cars pre-1975), Nikki Cottrill in the Pilbeam MP82 and Tricia Davis in the OMS CF09 (Normally Aspirated Racing Cars 1600c to 2000cc), Sarah Thorne in the Lotus 61/69 Special (All Cars pre 1975 and Shelsley Specials), Shelagh Ash in the TVR Griffith 500 (Roadgoing Series Production Cars), Tina Hawkes in the Force PC (Formula Ford Racing Cars up to 1600cc and Racing Cars over 1100cc up to 1600cc).

Tina Hawkes exits the Crossing Bend at Shelsley Walsh in her Force PC

Tina Hawkes was particularly impressive in the afternoon, winning her class and qualifying for the top twelve run-off in eighth place. The first few run-off competitors set less impressive times than had been seen in the morning run-off, but then Tina powered into the top spot with a time that seemed unbeatable until the final two runs, which pushed her down into third place. Nail-biting stuff, nonetheless. You can watch Tina tackle the hill at Shelsley a couple of years ago over on YouTube here.

Shelsley Walsh 07052017 Nikki Cottrill Pilbeam MP82
Nikki Cottrill tackles the Esses at Shelsley Walsh in her Pilbeam MP82

Next up for Jamie will be Championship Rounds 7, 8 and 9 at the Snetterton 300 Circuit in Norfolk on the 27th and 28th of May 2017. The next competitive weekend at Shelsley is British Racing Green on the 3rd and 4th of June 2017 which will feature a range of innovative new classes. These are proposed to include competitive and/or demonstration runs by electric and hybrid vehicles, autonomous cars, SUVs, and (one I’m particularly looking forward to for some reason) high powered estate cars (station wagons for those of you in the US).


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