Thursday, April 14, 2011

From Melbourne to Monte Carlo

The posh and not-so-posh totty who raced around Brooklands and other pre-war motor circuits really were a remarkable bunch. Adventurers, mistresses, devourers of family fortunes, serial divorcees, admirers of Hitler, consumers of toyboys and members of the aristocracy competed against the top male racers of the day and sometimes beat them. One who did just that was the Australian Joan Richmond who drove her Riley to the start of the 1932 Monte Carlo Rally ..... from Melbourne! Later that year, with co-driver Elsie Wisdom, she took on the men in the Brooklands 1000 Mile race and won.

It's a shame that the exploits of these ladies have escaped much attention. Miranda Seymour wrote a book about the French racer Helle-Nice which gained a lot of media attention, having been written by a famous author; and Fay Taylour merited a biography which mainly concentrated on her speedway career. Meanwhile the likes of the stylish Kay Petre and Gwenda Hawkes, two of just sixteen racers to have lapped Brooklands at more than 130mph, are forgotten. Indeed Barbara Cartland's pathetic faux-race at Brooklands is better remembered than their real achievements.

Anyway it seems that a short book about Joan Richmond is being published in Australia, see here.

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