Women Riders involved in Roadracing and Sprints, etc, Past and Present

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Women involved in Trials and Enduro, Past and Present
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At first I intended to have one page on women riders of the past, but then I found too much information!   So this page deals with women involved in roadracing, sprints, dragracing and the early road competitions. Much of the information on this page is the result of research carried out by Frances Popley for the Womens International Motorcycle Association's Pearl Jubilee booklet in 1980.
Miriam Anning is the earliest example of a woman competitor that has come to light. In 1908 she received a Gold First Class Award in a competition riding from London to Edinburgh and back. I wonder how long it took! She then took to off road and competed in trials into the 1930s.

Gwenda Stewart (nee Hawkes) broke the 250cc class speed record at Brooklands in 1922. In 1927 a bad accident saw her switch to 3 wheels, and in September 1928 she won a number of world records driving a 750cc JAP engined MEB 3 wheeler.

Rosetta Arnold was the first woman ever to appear on the victory rostrum at the Isle of Man TT - in 1968 she and her partner came second in the 750cc sidecar race. She describes her first attempt in 1967 which was the TT's Diamond Jubilee. "In practice I found the best thing to do was to try to remember the names of places and certain bends. A lot of bends you needn't get out for; they look very sharp as you go in, but there's nothing on the other side, so when I didn't need to move Norman (Hanks) just tapped me to stay flat. Wednesday came and we did one lap in practice. The bike was going 'great guns!' We did the other two practic laps the next day. The bike was going well, we stuck to three laps and qualified easily. All ready now for the big day! On the morning of the race I couldn't eat anything so walked to the paper shop. I opened the Daily Mirror and right in the middle was a full page photo of me in a swimsuit and another, on the other side, of me racing. I turned crimson, I didn't know where to put my face! The start was in pairs at ten second intervals. Down Bray's Hill is fantastic and not like a smooth racing circuit; you feel every bump on the Island. You lie flat all the way down Bray Hill and you can feel your body hit the sidecar floor now and again. You seem to be suspended in mid-air all the way down and then hang on for your life. It was at Glenvine or Union Mills when we started running on one cylinder. Norman kept going, misfiring all the way. I never expected that we'd do more than thirty miles on one cylinder but we did. We pulled into the pits and found that petrol starvation was the problem, yet it had been perfect in practice. We lost about 10 minutes fixing it, and in the end we finished 29th out of 82 outfits."

Gloria Clark
Gloria Clark in the Manx Grand Prix
Also in 1967 Mary Grinham began riding. In 1972 she planned to begin racing but a road accident in January, made things difficult. She and her passenger Dave raced a 724cc Triumph outfit once that year, but for 1973 they upgraded to 750cc. They usually managed sixth or seventh. In 1975 they got a new Weslake engine, which they raced for the next two years. In 1997 they got a 900cc Kawasaki, but there were many teething troubles and much 'sorting out' had to be done. In spite of this they managed to finish in places ranging from fourth to eleventh at race meetings at Brands Hatch and Lydden. Mary described 1978 as a 'hotting up year' in which the Kawasaki motor was given so go-faster goodies and went 'a hell of a lot better!'
© Marianne Walford