Change is the only constant. Hanging on is the only sin. – Denise McCluggage
The whole environment of motoring has always been traditionally male dominated. Traditionally but not exclusively: the history of motor racing also boasts some great women champions, women who were the definition of outliers, capable of being first across the line, making records, breaking taboos and conventions with the typical boldness, tenacity and passion that is part of being feminine.
Physical effort, dangers and social conventions kept the ladies away from the steering wheel for much of the first half of the 1900s. Up until then, only the most unconventional and daredevil ladies belonging to the middle and upper classes had access to the four wheels: the Duchess of Uzes was the first woman to obtain a driving license in 1907, while Camille du Gast was the first to drive a racing car.
We are talking about authentic pioneers, like Maria Teresa de Filippis, who in 1958 was the first woman to drive in a Formula One event in the Belgium Gran Prix. Or like Maria Grazia “Lella” Lombardi, holder of the participation record in F1 – 12 – as well as the only one to ever reach the point zone in a race.
Leaving her mark without ever abandoning her own femininity. It was the legacy of Hellé Nice, driver and model who in 1929, on the Montlhéry circuit, set the women’s world speed record - 198 km/h, a torpedo for that period. She took part in 75 competitions in a Bugatti 35C which had been made especially to suit her petite physique: she was known as The Bugatti Queen.
Pat Moss, sister of the legendary Stirling Moss, obviously had a love for speed in her blood. Among the most famous women drivers of all time, she collected an enviable list of victories with 5 wins at the European Ladies’ Rally Championship and eight Coupe des Dames at the Monte Carlo Rally. It was she who gave Mini Cooper its first ever victory at the Rally dei Tulipani, in 1962.
Some women have stood out for having paved the way for women’s emancipation to the sound of acceleration, braking and oil changes. Denise McCluggage was one of these: well-known reporter and professional driver, she won, among other things, the GT category of the Sebring 12 hours in 1961 and the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964 in a Ford Falcon. A great woman among great men – as in the photo with Fangio, Stirling Moss, Pedro Rodriguez, Innes Ireland, Ronnie Bucknum and the inevitable pink polka-dot helmet – she is still today the only journalist to make it into the Automotive Hall of Fame.
The list of the lady champions at the wheel could go on and on, enriched with ever more numerous car enthusiasts and professional drivers of today. And it is with these extraordinary outliers in mind that we have created a careful selection of bags and accessories dedicated to their Christmas. Ladies’ driving gloves, silk scarves for darting round with the top down, trolley bags and travel cases to give that present to someone or yourself of the real emotion of a road trip.
With our Best Wishes, Ladies!