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A middle-aged woman talking to the press at a motor show
Michèle Mouton (pictured in 2011) won her class in the 1975 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The 24 Hours of Le Mans (French: 24 Heures du Mans) is an annual 24-hour automobile endurance race organised by the automotive group Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) and held on the Circuit de la Sarthe race track close to the city of Le Mans, the capital of the French department of Sarthe.[1][2] It was first staged as the Grand Prix of Endurance and Efficiency in 1923,[3] after the automotive journalist Charles Faroux, the ACO general secretary Georges Durand and the industrialist Emile Coquile agreed to hold the race for car manufacturers to test vehicle durability, equipment and reliability.[1] From the first event in 1923, the ACO advocated sexual equality by permitting women to participate at Le Mans, ranking them equally with men under its performance standards.[4] From 1957, the ACO refused to allow women to enter the event after the fatal accident of Annie Bousquet at the 1956 12 Hours of Reims,[a][6] as well as spectator deaths in the 1955 Le Mans disaster and the 1957 Mille Miglia.[7] The restriction was lifted in 1971, possibly due to the women's liberation movement reaching French motorsport.[8]

As of the 2022 24 Hours of Le Mans, there have been 65 female drivers representing 15 countries who have started the race a total of 150 times and have finished on 82 occasions.[b][10] Anne-Charlotte Verney of France holds the record for the most starts in the race with ten.[11] Belgian Vanina Ickx is second with seven starts and Marie-Claude Beaumont of France is third with six starts. The first two female drivers to compete at the event were Marguerite Mareuse and Odette Siko in 1930. France is the most represented country, having produced 22 female participants, followed by the United Kingdom with 16 female drivers and Belgium with five female racers. Colombia and the Netherlands became the latest countries to be represented when Tatiana Calderón and Beitske Visser made their debuts in 2020. The most recent woman to make her Le Mans debut was Lilou Wadoux in 2022.[10]

Since the first race in 1923, there have been 29 all-female squads, consisting of either two or three drivers. There have been two all-female teams who have won their class.[10] The first all-female crew to win their category was the "Christine" – Ecurie Seiko team of Christine Beckers, Yvette Fontaine and Marie Laurent in the 1974 edition and the second was the Société Esso trio of Christine Dacremont, Marianne Hoepfner and Michèle Mouton in the 1975 race.[12][13] The race to feature the highest number of all-female squads was the 1935 event featuring four teams.[10] The highest overall finish by an individual woman at Le Mans was achieved by Siko, who came fourth in the 1932 edition. The best performing all-female team was the seventh-placed Mme Mareuse duo of Maruese and Siko in the 1930 edition.[11]

Drivers

By name

Key
1 Number in the best finish column denotes a driver's highest finish
DNF Did not finish
NC Not classified
A black and white photograph of a woman in racing overalls typical of the 1930s
Odette Siko was one of the first two women to drive in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and competed in four editions overall.
A black and white portrait photograph of a female racing driver in overalls
Joan Richmond was the first Australian woman to compete at Le Mans.
A woman in racing overalls is holding paper in both her hands and reading the material printed on it
Lella Lombardi drove in four Le Mans races and finished second in her class at the 1976 race.
A woman in her mid-30s wearing green clothing with sponsors logos and smiling at the camera
Vanina Ickx finished a career-high seventh place at the 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans.
A woman in her late teens looking at the camera is wearing a T-shirt emoblened with "SOPHIA" in capital letters
Sophia Flörsch was one of the three women to debut at the 2020 24 Hours of Le Mans.
A woman in her late twenties wearing black racing overalls with sponsors logo smiling to her right and wearing black sunglasses
Sarah Bovy made her 24 Hours of Le Mans debut in 2021.
24 Hours of Le Mans female drivers by name[10]
No. Country Name Years Starts Best finish Wins Top 10 Class wins Ref
1  France Odette Siko 19301933 4 4 0 2 1 [14]
2  France Marguerite Mareuse 19301931 2 7 0 1 0 [15]
3  United Kingdom Joan Chetwynd[c] 1931 1 DNF 0 0 0 [17]
4  United Kingdom H.H. Stisted 1931 1 DNF 0 0 0 [18]
5  United Kingdom Elsie Wisdom 1933, 1935, 1938 3 DNF 0 0 0 [19]
6  France Marie Desprez 1933 1 DNF 0 0 0 [20]
7  United Kingdom Dorothy Champney 1934 1 13 0 0 0 [21]
8  Canada Kay Petre 19341935, 1937 3 13 0 0 0 [22]
9  France Anne-Cecile Rose-Itier 19341935, 19371939 5 12 0 0 0 [23]
10  United Kingdom Gwenda Stewart 19341935 2 DNF 0 0 0 [24]
11  United Kingdom Gordon Simpson 1935 1 24 0 0 0 [25]
12  Australia Joan Richmond 1935, 1937 2 14 0 0 0 [26]
13  United Kingdom Doreen Evans 1935 1 25 0 0 0 [27]
14  United Kingdom Barbara Skinner 1935 1 25 0 0 0 [28]
15  United Kingdom Colleen Eaton 1935 1 26 0 0 0 [29]
16  United Kingdom Margaret Allan 1935 1 26 0 0 0 [30]
17  United Kingdom Dorothy Stanley-Turner 1937 1 16 0 0 0 [31]
18  United Kingdom Joan Riddell 1937 1 16 0 0 0 [32]
19  United Kingdom Marjorie Eccles 1937 1 DNF 0 0 0 [33]
20  France Fernande Roux 1938 1 DNF 0 0 0 [34]
21  France Suzanne Largeot 19371939 3 12 0 0 1 [35]
22  United Kingdom Marjorie Fawcett 1938 1 13 0 0 0 [36]
23  France Germaine Rouault 1938, 1950 2 DNF 0 0 0 [37]
24  France Viviane Elder 1949 1 DNF 0 0 0 [38]
25  France Regine Gordine 1950 1 DNF 0 0 0 [39]
26  France Yvonne Simon 19501951 2 15 0 0 0 [40]
27  United Kingdom Betty Haig 1951 1 15 0 0 0 [41]
28  France Marie-Claude Beaumont 19711976 6 12 0 0 1 [12]
29  Belgium Christine Beckers[d] 19731974, 19761977 4 11 0 0 1 [42]
30  France Anne-Charlotte Verney 19741983 10 6 0 1 1 [43]
31  Belgium Yvette Fontaine 19741975 2 11 0 0 1 [44]
32  France Marie Laurent 1974 1 17 0 0 1 [45]
33  France Martine Rénier 1974, 1976 2 13 0 0 0 [46]
34  France Corinne Tarnaud 1975 1 21 0 0 0 [47]
35  France Christine Dacremont 19751978 4 20 0 0 1 [48]
36  France Michèle Mouton 1975 1 21 0 0 1 [13]
37  France Marianne Hoepfner 1975, 19771978, 1980 4 21 0 0 1 [49]
38  Italy Lella Lombardi 19751977, 1980 4 11 0 0 0 [50]
39  Italy Anna Cambiaghi 1977 1 DNF 0 0 0 [51]
40  United Kingdom Juliette Slaughter 1978 1 DNF 0 0 0 [52]
41  South Africa Desiré Wilson 19821983, 1991 3 7 0 1 0 [53]
42  United States Margie Smith-Haas 19841985 2 DNF 0 0 0 [54]
43  United States Lyn St. James 1989, 1991 2 DNF 0 0 0 [55]
44  France Cathy Muller 1991 1 DNF 0 0 0 [56]
45  Japan Tomiko Yoshikawa 19921995 4 15 (NC) 0 0 0 [57]
46  Switzerland Lilian Bryner 19931995, 1997 4 9 0 1 0 [58]
47  Germany Claudia Hürtgen 19971999, 2001 4 13 0 0 0 [59]
48  Belgium Vanina Ickx 2001, 2003, 2005, 20082011 7 7 0 1 0 [60]
49  Venezuela Milka Duno 20012002 2 DNF 0 0 0 [61]
50  United States Liz Halliday 20052007 3 19 0 0 0 [62]
51  United Kingdom Amanda Stretton 2008 1 DNF 0 0 0 [63]
52  Switzerland Natacha Gachnang 2010, 2013 2 11 0 0 0 [64]
53  Switzerland Cyndie Allemann 2010 1 DNF 0 0 0 [65]
54  Switzerland Rahel Frey 2010, 20192022 5 34 0 0 0 [66]
55  United States Andrea Robertson 2011 1 26 0 0 0 [67]
56  Japan Keiko Ihara 20122014 3 14 0 0 0 [68]
57  Denmark Christina Nielsen 20162018 3 31 0 0 0 [69]
58  France Inès Taittinger 2016 1 DNF 0 0 0 [70]
59  Denmark Michelle Gatting 20192022 4 34 0 0 0 [71]
60  Italy Manuela Gostner 20192020 2 34 0 0 0 [72]
61  Colombia Tatiana Calderón 20202021 2 13 0 0 0 [73]
62  Germany Sophia Flörsch 20202022 3 13 0 0 0 [74]
63  Netherlands Beitske Visser 20202021 2 13 0 0 0 [75]
64  Belgium Sarah Bovy 20212022 2 36 0 0 0 [76]
65  France Lilou Wadoux 2022 1 13 0 0 0 [77]

By country

24 Hours of Le Mans female drivers by country[10]
Country First Drivers Starts Top 10 Class Win
France France 1930 22 58 4 10
United Kingdom United Kingdom 1931 16 17 0 0
Belgium Belgium 1954 4 15 1 1
Switzerland Switzerland 1993 4 12 1 0
United States United States 1984 4 8 0 0
Italy Italy 1975 3 8 0 0
Japan Japan 1992 2 6 0 0
Denmark Denmark 2016 2 7 0 0
Germany Germany 1997 2 7 0 0
Canada Canada 1934 1 3 0 0
South Africa South Africa 1982 1 3 1 0
Australia Australia 1935 1 2 0 0
Colombia Colombia 2020 1 2 0 0
Netherlands Netherlands 2020 1 2 0 0
Venezuela Venezuela 2001 1 2 0 0

All-women teams

A light blue and red 1970s closed-cockit racing car on display out of doors in a car show
The Moynet LM75 car that Christine Dacremont, Michèle Mouton and Marianne Hoepfner used to win their class at the 1975 24 Hours of Le Mans.
24 Hours of Le Mans all-female teams[10]
Year Team Nat Drivers Category Car Finish Class
1930 Mme Mareuse  France Marguerite Mareuse 1.5 Bugatti T 40 7 2
 France Odette Siko
1931 Mme Mareuse  France Marguerite Mareuse 1.5 Bugatti T 40 DSQ DSQ
 France Odette Siko
Hon. Mrs. Chetwynd  United Kingdom Joan Chetwynd 750 MG C-Type Midget DNF DNF
 United Kingdom H.H. Stistend
1934 Miss D. Champney  United Kingdom Dorothy Champney 1.1 Riley Ulster IMP 13 5
 Canada Kay Petre
1935 Captain G. E. T. Eyston  United Kingdom Eveline Gordon-Simpson 1.1 MG PA Midget 24 9
 Australia Joan Richmond
Captain G. E. T. Eyston  United Kingdom Doreen Evans 1.1 MG PA Midget 25 10
 United Kingdom Barbara Skinner
Captain G. E. T. Eyston  United Kingdom Margaret Allan 1.1 MG PA Midget 26 11
 United Kingdom Corinne Eaton
Riley Motor Company  Canada Kay Petre 1.5 Riley Nine MPH Six Racing DNF DNF
 United Kingdom Elsie Wisdom
1937 G. E. T. Eyston  Australia Joan Riddell 1.1 MG PB Midget 16 4
 United Kingdom Dorothy Stanley-Turner
1938 Mmes Roux et Rouault  France Germaine Rouault 3.0 Amilcar "Pegase Special" G36 DNF DNF
 France Fernande Roux
1939 Mme. A. Itier  France Suzanne Largeot 1.1 Simca Huit DNF DNF
 France Anne-Cecile Rose-Itier
1950 Rouault et Gordine  France Regine Gordine S 1.1 Simca-Gordini TMM DNF DNF
 France Germaine Rouault
1951 Luigi Chinetti  United Kingdom Betty Haig S 2.0 Ferrari 166 MM Coupé 15 3
 France Yvonne Simon
1974 Écurie Seiko-Scato  Belgium Christine Beckers S 2.0 Chevron B 23 17 1
 Belgium Yvette Fontaine
 France Marie Laurent
1975 Anne-Charlotte Verney  France Corrine Tarnaud GT Porsche 911 Carrera RS 11 6
 Belgium Yvette Fontaine
 France Anne-Charlotte Verney
Société Esso  France Christine Dacremont S 2.0 Moynet LM75 21 1
 France Marianne Hoepfner
 France Michèle Mouton
Elf Switzerland  France Marie-Claude Beaumont S 2.0 Renault Alpine A441 DNF DNF
 Italy Lella Lombardi
1976 Aseptogyl  France Christine Dacremont GTP Lancia Stratos Turbo 20 2
 Italy Lella Lombardi
1977 Inaltera  Belgium Christine Beckers Gr.6 S 3.0 Inaltera LM77 11 4
 Italy Lella Lombardi
Team Esso Aseptogyl  France Christine Dacremont GTP Lancia Stratos Turbo DNF DNF
 France Marianne Hoepfner
1978 WM A.E.R.E.M. / Team Esso Aseptogyl  France Christine Dacremont GTP WM P76-Peugeot DNF DNF
 France Marianne Hoepfner
1991 Euro Racing/A.O. Racing  France Cathy Muller C1 Spice SE90C-Ford DNF DNF
 United States Lyn St. James
 South Africa Desiré Wilson
2010 Matech Competition  Switzerland Cyndie Allemann LMGT1 Ford GT DNF DNF
 Switzerland Rahel Frey
 Switzerland Natacha Gachnang
2019 Kessel Racing  Switzerland Rahel Frey LMGTE Am Ferrari 488 GTE 39 9
 Denmark Michelle Gatting
 Italy Manuela Gostner
2020 Iron Lynx  Switzerland Rahel Frey LMGTE Am Ferrari 488 GTE Evo 34 9
 Denmark Michelle Gatting
 Italy Manuela Gostner
Richard Mille Racing Team  Colombia Tatiana Calderón LMP2 Oreca 07 13 9
 Germany Sophia Flörsch
 Netherlands Beitske Visser[e]
2021 Iron Lynx  Belgium Sarah Bovy LMGTE Am Ferrari 488 GTE Evo 36 9
 Switzerland Rahel Frey
 Denmark Michelle Gatting
Richard Mille Racing Team  Colombia Tatiana Calderón LMP2 Oreca 07 DNF DNF
 Germany Sophia Flörsch
 Netherlands Beitske Visser
2022 Iron Dames  Belgium Sarah Bovy LMGTE Am Ferrari 488 GTE Evo 40 7
 Denmark Michelle Gatting
 Switzerland Rahel Frey

See also

Notes

  1. ^ The ACO also cited Bousquet's driving style as a reason for banning women from racing at Le Mans until 1971.[5]
  2. ^ Gilberte Thirion was barred from competing for Equipe Gordini in the 1954 race because of her gender. Her place was taken by her father Max Thirion.[9]
  3. ^ Chetwynd entered under the name "The Honorable Mrs. Chetwynd" because she was married to Viscount Chetwynd.[16]
  4. ^ Beckers competed using only her forename.[16]
  5. ^ Visser replaced Katherine Legge, who sustained multiple injuries in a July 2020 European Le Mans Series pre-season test session accident at the Circuit Paul Ricard in France.[78]

References

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Bibliography

External links