6 Pioneering female motorists you should know

Trudy Rozani
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Dorothy Levitt – According to thetruthaboutcars.com, Levitt was the first female race car driver in England during the 1900s. She was also instrumental in introducing motoring safety for women with her renowned book, The Woman and the Car.

Amongst many other safety tips, she encouraged women to use hand mirrors in their cars to see their blind spot while driving. This was the precursor to the rearview mirror that cars use today. She has also taught several important women, including Queen Alexandra of Denmark,how to drive.

The Duchess of Uzes – According to Daimler, the Duchess, whose name was Anne de Mortemart, was the first woman in Paris to obtain a drivers’ licence in 1898.

She is also said to be the first woman to receive a speeding ticket for exceeding the 12km/h limit near the town. She certainly broke barriers and took risks.

Camille du Gast – According to Speed Queens, she was the first woman to compete in an international car race. In her first race, which took place in 1901, she finished 33rd with a car that was not designed for racing.

But car racing was also not only about winning to Camille. She stopped to help an injured fellow racer and team mate in her second race, leading her to 77th place out 100. She was also an activist who protested the ban on female racing based on “female nervousness” -  the fear of the female’s injury.

Bertha Benz – The UK Telegraph, reports that Mrs Benz was the business woman and sponsor behind the invention of the Mercedes Benz, while her husband Karl was the engineer.

Having secretly taken the car for a spin, she became the first woman ever to test drive a vehicle. Through her secret drive, she discovered many loopholes in the model, which led to its improvement. 125 years later, the Benz legacy lives on.

Maria Teresa De Fillipis – According to ESPN, the daughter of motor racing legend Sir Frank De Fillipis was the first woman to take part in a F1 Grand Prix race, finishing in 10th place in 1958.

During her illustrious career, she raced for Maserati and Porsche. What inspired her to do the sport? The people around her that told her she couldn’t because she was a woman.

After facing many failures and tragedies in the sport, she retired and is currently the president of the Maserati racing club.

Madame CJ Walker – According to motorcities.org, business woman Madame CJ Walker was the first African American woman to own a car in the 1900s. This gave her the mobility to sell her products from door to door and across the United States. Even the racial and economic inequalities of the time could not stop her.