FEATURE: Female drivers in The Great Race
Renee Gracie and Simona de Silvestro will join a long list of females to have competed in The Great Race.
The history of women in the event dates back to Diane Leighton, Anne Bennett and Pam Murison sharing a Simca to third in class in 1962, the year prior to the event transferring from Phillip Island to Bathurst.
Speedcafe.com has dug through the archives and found over 30 different women that have competed in the event across each of the race’s previous five decades.
The list includes a high of six in the field for the 1969 Hardie Ferodo 500.
Only in recent years has participation from women been rare, with Leanne Tander the sole female to appear in any of the last 14 events.
Gracie and de Silvestro will become the 15th all-female entries to contest the race, including Pat Peck’s solo campaign in 1972.
De Silvestro is the first international female in the event since German Annette Meeuvissen and Austrian Mercedes Stermitz campaigned a factory BMW M3 in 1987.
Other famous internationals have included Frenchwomen Marie-Claude Beaumont, whose debut netted a class win and sixth outright in 1975, and American Janet Guthrie, who co-drove with fellow Indy Car driver Johnny Rutherford in 1977.
Beaumont’s sixth outright is the equal best finish for a female alongside Christine Gibson’s effort from 1981, which ironically came after she helped trigger a crash at McPhillamy Park that saw the race red flagged 42 laps short of the finish.
Honour Roll: Women in The Great Race
1962 Diane Leighton/Anne Bennett/Pam Murison, Simca Aronde, 3rd in Class C
1963 Lorraine Hill/Warren Blomfield, Morris Major Elite, 16th in Class B
1964 Lorraine Hill/Brian Reed, Hillman Imp, 13th in Class A
1967 Jan Richardson/Midge Whiteman, Morris 1100S, 4th in Class B
1968 Christine Cole/Midge Whiteman Morris Mini Deluxe, 5th in Class A
1969 Sandra Bennett/Arthur Olsen, Morris Mini K, 4th in Class A
1969 Diane Dickson/Max Dickson, Ford Cortina 240, 6th in Class C
1969 Christine Cole/Lynne Keefe, Fiat 125, DNF
1969 Ann Thomson/Carole Corness Cooper S in 1969, DNF
1970 Carole Corness/Gloria Taylor Ford Escort, 42nd
1970 Sandra Bennett/Christine Cole LC Torana GTR XU-1, 13th
1970 Lynne Keefe/Arthur Olsen, Morris Cooper S, 13th in Class C
1971 Jan Holland/Pat Peck LC Torana GTR XU-1, 29th
1972 Pat Peck (solo), Holden Torana GTR XU-1, DNF
1972 Christine Gibson (nee Cole)/Jan Holland Torana LJ, DNF
1973 Pat Peck/Darrilyn Huitt, Holden Torana GTR XU-1, DNF
1973 Sue Ransom/Christine Gibson Alfa Romeo GTV, DNF
1973 Caroline O’Shanesy/Peter Williamson Mini Cooper S, 26th
1975 Caroline O Shanesy/David Booth, Morris Cooper S, 6th in Class A, 27th outright
1975 Marie-Claude Beaumont/John Leffler Alfa Romeo GTV, 1st Class B, 6th outright
1975 Sue Ransom/Bill Brown Ford Escort, 4th Class B, 11th outright
1976 Marie-Claude Beaumont/Christine Gibson Alfetta GTA, DNF
1976 Caroline O’Shanesy/Gary Leggat Fiat 128, DNF
1977 Sue Ransom/Russell Skaife Ford Capri, DNF
1977 Janet Guthrie/Johnny Rutherford Holden Torana A9X, DNF
1978 Sue Ranson/ Bill Brown Ford Capri, DNF
1978 Robyn Hamilton/ Ralph Radburn Holden Torana A9X, DNF
1980 Sue Ransom/ Neville Bridges Holden Commodore VB, 22nd
1980 Alexandra Surplice/John Gates Toyota Corolla, 28th
1981 Christine Gibson/Joe Moore Ford Falcon XD, 6th
1981 Alexandra Surplice/Doug Clark Toyota Corolla, DNF
1983 Christine Gibson/ Bob Muir Nissan Pulsar, DNF
1984 Alexandra Surplice/Bob Holden Toyota Sprinter, 26th
1984 Christine Gibson/Glenn Seton Nissan Pulsar, DNF
1987 Annette Meeuvissen/Mercedes Stermitz BMW M3, DNF
1990 Heather Spurle/Bob Jones Holden Commodore VL, 26th
1994 Melinda Price/Andew Reid/Garry Jones Toyota Corolla, DNF
1997 Jenni Thompson/Aaron McGill/Terry Skene Ford Mondeo, DNF
1997 Melinda Price/Kerryn Brewer Holden Commodore VS, 12th
1998 Paula Elstrek/Heidi O’Neil/Damien Digby Ford Mondeo, DNF
1998 Jenni Thompson/Mike Fitzgerald Peugeot 405, DNF
1998 Melinda Price/Kerryn Brewer Holden Commodore VS, 11th
1998 Nicole Pretty/Nathan Pretty/Grant Johnson Holden Commodore VS, DNF
1999 Melinda Price/Dean Lindstrom Holden Commodore VS, 17th
2000 Melindra Price/Dean Lindstrom Holden Commodore VS, 20th
2001 Leanne Ferrier/Paul Dumbrell Holden Commodore VX, DNF
2009 Leanne Tander (nee Ferrier)/David Wall Ford Falcon, 18th