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The automobile motorsports hobby around the world since the 1930s

The first recorded race between motorized vehicles, an 1867 street race between steam carriagestook place three decades prior to the first known instance of women racing motor vehicles, when a group of Parisian women on motorized tricycles raced around a horse track.

Men may have raced before women, but women were never as far from motorsports prominence as one might expect, despite their lack of legal liberties early on. Women still make up a minority in current motorsports demographics, but at all levels of racing, from grassroots to professional, women make up a greater proportion of competitors than ever before. Some, by mention of their name alone, conjure up images as heroic as any male in the biz.

Others have names whose notoriety has been eroded by the sands of time, and accomplishments overwritten as records tumble to technology's advance. Their achievements, however, are not eclipsed. Pelting across cobbled roads at 91 mph in a car made from the automobile motorsports hobby around the world since the 1930s iron and optimism is no less impressive today than it was in 1906.

If anything, it is made more astonishing by the fact that girls were reared in the day to avoid such hobbies, and were often outright barred from competing. Yet there they were, lasses leaving lads to languish on the lower levels of the podium, seizing the champagne for themselves.

Let's meet some of those women now. Camille du Gast, as a wealthy French widow and extreme sports enthusiast, became the first female star of motorsports because of her performance at the 1901 Paris-Berlin race. She started dead last of the 122 entrants, in her 20 horsepower Panhard, and finished 33rd, reportedly unsatisfied with overtaking a mere 89 of her competitors. For reference, in this same year, girls are included for the first time in Chinese education.

Four years later, at the Brighton Speed Trials, Dorothy Levitt rode an 80 horsepower Napier to almost 80 mphwinning her engine class, the Autocar Challenge Trophy, and the right to call herself the fastest woman on earth. The following year, she raised the bar to 91 mph. Levitt is also thought to have pioneered the rear-view mirror, though hers was handheld, and not affixed to a car.

Also in 1905, women in Honduras received legal majority, or legal status as individuals with accountability for themselves. Gwenda Janson, a decorated, self-taught WWI ambulance driver, got her start in motorcycle racing with a 1,000-mile promotional record on a Ner-A-Car recumbent motorcycle, setting her up for more opportunities to race through the early 1930s.

That same year, in Belgium, women were granted the right to hold public office. She drove a Bugatti 30 with Grand Prix history to victory in a regional touring car race. The following year, she seized another win in a Czech hill climb, and two years thereafter, she won the two-liter class at the inaugural car race at the then-new Nurburgring. While all this went on, Argentina outlawed firing women for being pregnant.

Around that same time, Edwards vs. Canada resulted in a ruling that women were eligible to serve in the country's senate. Odette Siko's racing in the late 1920s prepared her for her bids at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which started in 1930. After one successful finish and a disqualification in her first two races at Le Mans, Siko wrangled her Alfa Romeo 6C to a fourth-place finish in 1932, winning the 2.

Her finish remains the best achieved by any woman to race at Le Mans. Colombia and Romania approved of legal majority for married women. Margaret Allan was invited by MG to race with the team, due to her 10th-place finish in the 1932 Monte Carlo Rally, among other strong drives. She competed at Le Mans the following year in a 0. Allan eventually lapped Brooklands at over 122 mph in a 6.

At around the same time, Women in Haiti were permitted to pursue careers as physicians. She became Gwenda Stewart, and more importantly, the fastest woman around Brooklands, with a lap at a speed of nearly 136 mph. Her record was never broken. Brooklands closed four years afterward.

At around the same time, Tehran University in Iran finally opened its doors to women. Much of the world dropped motor racing to fight World War II, though the postwar economic boom made many wealthy enough to take up racing. Ecuadoran women received legal majority. Maria Teresa de Filippis took one small step for women, and one giant leap into a more organized Grand Prix racing scene, now known simply as Formula 1.

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Her F1 debut came at the 1958 Belgian Grand Prix, where she finished 10th. Talented rally driver Anne Hall won the Morecambe Road Rally, and became the first woman to win any national or international rally. Afghanistan's University of Kabul began accepting women. In the Safari Rally, known for being the most challenging in the world at the time, Anne Hall finished third.

The Dowry Prohibition Act was signed in India. Hall beat Hill by a reported 6. The taking of women as prisoners of war for forced marriage was deemed a crime against humanity by the Special Court for Sierra Leone. The following year, she and her husband Jack—who introduced her to racing—divorced, in part because he was uncomfortable following her upward into nitrous oxide-powered NHRA Top Fuel racing.

Preventing women from practicing law became illegal in the United States. She was hired by the March team the following year and became the first woman to score championship points in F1, with a P6 finish at the chaotic Spanish Grand Prix. Spain lifted a ban on women participating in bullfighting at around the same time.

Abortion was legalized in France. Danforth, repealing a requirement for written consent for a woman to have an abortion. Fiat France hired Mouton to race for the company in the European Rally Championship, in which she placed second.

Engine problems in both races handicapped her to finish 29th and 12th respectively. She finished ninth at Indy the following year, and her best finish in Indycar stands at fifth. More power to her. She has 'made it' in what I think is the most competitive racing circuit in the world. Mouton was selected as one of Audi Sport's drivers for its turbocharged, four-wheel-drive Quattro.

With Audi, she would win four World Rally Championship events and place second in the championship in her second year with the team. Sweden became the first western nation to codify a law banning FGM. In the outrageous Audi Quattro S1, Mouton won the world's longest and most extreme hillclimb, Pikes Peak, setting a course record. France altered parenting laws to give mothers equal say in the handling of a child's property.

Her nickname came from a period in 1967, during which she worked at the Playboy Club of Baltimore as a hostess, to support her racing. She took the moniker in stride, plastering it on her cars. In Djibouti, women were allowed to run in elections. Switzerland and Brazil equalized the legal powers of husbands and wives.

In Canada, retail chain Safeway is punished for inadequate compensation of employees on maternity leave. Giovanna Amati was signed by the faltering Brabham F1 team, but inexperience with fast single-seaters left her uncompetitive, and her contract was terminated shortly thereafter.

Women's involvement in American politics, specifically the elections of 1992, exploded, resulting in the year being dubbed " Year of the Woman. Carol Burkett was involved in an accident at a race in Pennsylvania, when her opponent lost control and crashed into her.

Burkett's car sailed into the woods at 200 mph, leaving Burkett with injuries that doctors told her would prevent her from walking ever again.

About 18 months later, she was back at drag strips, racing her Funny Car, undeterred.

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The United States' Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act raised penalties for crimes classified as hate crimes, under which women are protected. Sommelier and racing driver Sabine Reck won the 24 Hours of Nurburgring, and came back for a second bottle of champagne the following year. She would eventually marry into the Schmitz family, adopting the name many know her by today: Sabine Schmitz, whose 20,000-plus laps of the Nurburgring make her its undisputed master.

Italy reclassified any form of sexual assault as a felony. Indycar driver Sarah Fisher became the first woman in the series' history to post a podium, at the Kentucky Indy 300. Two years later, she secured pole position at the same event, also a first for women in top-level open-wheel motorsports.

Nepal allowed married women under 35 to inherit property. Jutta Kleinschmidt maintained a speed befitting of the Amazon she is throughout the duration of the 6,200-mile Paris-Dakar Rally, and became the first woman and first German to win the race.

Across the Atlantic, Venezuelan academic, naval engineer, and former model Milka Duno busied herself with four class wins in the ALMS endurance series. In the following year, Bangladesh raised the penalty for acid attacks to death. Divorce was made legal in Chile, and in Pakistan, honor killings were outlawed. Champ Car driver Katherine Legge became the first woman in the series to lead a race lap, and held on to the race lead for 12 laps of the Road Runner 225. Greece debarred marital rape.

At the 24 Hours of Daytona, Legge completed the millionth lap in the race's history, though she finished far adrift of Duno, who enjoyed a second-place finish overall, less than a lap down from the race leaders. Egypt and Eritrea forbade female genital mutilation.

Women in Motorsports: Their Past, Present, and Future

The Indy 500 was one of the biggest moments of Danica Patrick's professional racing career. She elbowed her way into the shootout for pole position, ultimately starting 10th. Patrick hunkered down for the ensuing 200 laps, during which she sneaked past seven competitors, to finish third, the best finish for any woman in the race's history. Sudanese activist Lubna Hussein was fined for wearing pants. In the midst of her Indycar season, a United States customs officer denied Simona de Silvestro's entry to the country, and cited repeated trips in and out of the country as reason to send her back to Switzerland.

The officer did not believe de Silvestro's explanation that she was a racing driver. Afghanistan criminalized any attempt at flight from a forced marriage. De Silvestro climbed atop the second step of the podium at the Grand Prix of Houston.

Danica Patrick blitzed her competition in qualifying at the Daytona 500, and snatched pole position. Saudi Arabian women were allowed to ride bicycles, but only in designated zones, in full body covering, and with a male family member present.

Gambia and Nigeria prohibit FGM.