Women have been involved in motorsport from the very start – on the track, in the pits, and behind the scenes
From pioneering drivers like Vicki Wood and Janet Guthrie, to more contemporary competitors like Sarah Fisher and Danica Patrick, women have made their mark on the sport from Detroit to Daytona, and from Indianapolis to Le Mans.
And in South Africa too!
Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA) will be compiling a series of Women’s Month segments during August, with women in motorsport serving as a starting point. In a South African context, three women have forged a tight relationship in racing with Ford.
Elvéne Coetzee-Vonk cut her teeth in rallying from a young age as a navigator for various teams and drivers before joining Neil Woolridge Motorsport this year in the South African Cross Country Series (SACCS), competing alongside double champion Lance Woolridge in the a Ford Ranger.
On the tarmac circuits around South Africa, Paige Lindenberg has the same determination at the wheel of the Shelby Ford Mustang as she does in her family-run business at Shelby-South Africa, the official Shelby American mod-shop in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Paige has grown up around Ford Mustangs and uses her racecraft to grow the Shelby following in South Africa – you can often see her at various events at the wheel of the 560kW Shelby Super Snake!
This list would be incomplete without the eclectic Clare Vale who continues to prove that no motorsport discipline is out of her reach, or ability. Since 2007, when she became the first woman to race in the premier national WesBank V8 Supercar series, Clare’s contribution to motorsport is so broad that you’d be forgiven for thinking she started well before the age of 40! Ever since then, Clare has been in a hurry to make up for that lost time and has been nominated twice for the Colin Watling Award for service to motorsport.
These three women of South African motorsport are not alone; whether on dirt, tarmac, two wheels or four wheels, more and more women are reaching the top echelons of motorsport and continue to inspire other women from all backgrounds to do the same.