First lady in the race to make history – Germiston City News


Even the words of the director of the 1958 French Grand Prix that “the only helmet a woman should wear is at the hairdresser’s” could not dissuade Maria Teresa de Filippis from playing a sport she loved.

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De Filippis was an Italian runner who stood up to prejudice in a male-dominated industry to pave the way for female runners like Clare Vale.

Vale, like most tankers, admits the smell of rubber and fuel excites him.

“If it’s not gasoline, it’s diesel,” she said.

The Lakefield resident will take part in the Red Bull Car Park Drift series in Durban on April 9.

“It’s very exciting because the winner will be able to participate in the international final. This is the first time that spectators are allowed to attend. All the best riders will be there so it’s going to be epic for all of us.

“A track like this is always a challenge as cars and drivers need to be able to not only skid but also negotiate tight obstacles with precision. I look forward to being a part of it.

Vale started racing 18 years ago – first in circuit racing and in 2012 she switched to drifting.

His career includes racing in iconic cars such as the Shelby Can-Am and some of the most powerful engines on the track.

“I started with Shelby Can-Am sports cars, but raced mostly in the V8 Supercar class on the circuit. We then built a V8 Mustang and started drifting in the National Series until Covid shut it down.

“I’ve ridden a Backdraft Cobra V8 in the SA Endurance series for the past few years, and I’ve raced events like Gymkhana Grid with a Subaru BRZ. I also do the Simola Hill Climb in Knysna with the Subaru every year. This year,

I drive a Nissan bakkie in regional off-road races.

In the V8 Supercar series, it achieved many firsts.

In 2007 she became the first woman to compete in the WesBank V8 Supercars series and in 2009 she led and took pole position in the same series. 2010 was a successful year as she finished third in the East London Grand Prix, becoming the first woman in the country to step onto the podium.

With all of her accomplishments, how did she manage to navigate her way through an industry steeped in masculinity?

“I’ve been in the auto industry most of my life. I am used to working in a predominantly male environment.

The key to prosperity is mutual respect, although a driver has to work harder because people are always watching and quick to criticize.

“That’s why I have a #likeagirl sticker on my car, to remind people that it’s okay to drive like a girl.

“People are often surprised when I take my helmet off because they don’t expect a woman to drive the big V8s. But most comments are positive once the shock has passed. »

After such a successful career on the circuit, she switched to drifting to try a different challenge.

“I saw drifting as a huge challenge because it’s very different from circuit racing. It looked so much fun while requiring huge driving skills.


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