She finished 14th at the Brazilian Grand Prix that year, and subsequently, the team decided to replace her with Ronnie Peterson. In 1975, Lombardi joined the March team for a full seasonat that time alongside the macho Vittorio Brambilla (nicknamed the Monza Gorilla) and Hans-Joachim Stuck. Certainly, she would have achieved better results. She wasnt a publicity seeker. [12] Lombardi is considered an F1 trailblazer, after which women increasingly joined Formula One in many capacities aside from driving. She raced a Lola-Chevrolet and finished fourteenth, but wasnt qualified. Lella Lombardi is still the only woman ever to score F1 championship points. Lella Lombardi races, wins and teams | Motorsport Database - Motor Sport Magazine Find out about British F1 driver, Lella Lombardi, their career, history and character information incl. She was charming but stubborn and independent, and a tremendously careful road driver. This perhaps shows us how much attention was paid to the lives of female racers at the time. She spoke okay English by then, plus Id worked with so many Italian drivers that I could almost speak the language.. That was the first time we saw her, says John Webb, the UKs most go-ahead promoter of the period. At the 1975 Spanish Grand Prix, Lombardi scored half a point, making her the only woman to ever score any championship points in Formula 1. A successful placing in the 1965 Formula Monza, however, gave Lombardi away, when her parents read about her in the papers. ITA On her deathbed she asked us to continue the team to preserve what she had achieved. That same year she attempted to make her Grand Prix debut in the British GP at Brands Hatch, in a Brabham BT42 rented from Bernie Ecclestone for 5,000, entered by Hexagon of Highgate and sponsored by Allie Polymer Group. Lombardi was a versatile racer and tried her hand at numerous disciplines throughout her career. Born Maria Grazia 'Lella' Lombardi in Frugarolo, Italy, and so far the only woman to have registered a top six finish in a World Championshop Grand Prix, she took half a point for finishing in 6th place in the prematurely terminated 1975 Spanish GP at Barcelona's Montjuich Park. She never brought a girlfriend. He did a few laps and said, Its neutral. She raced regularly for March in F1 in 1975 with backing from Count Googie Zanon, retiring an old 741 with fuel system problems on her debut in South Africa, when she became the only woman after de Filippis to qualify for an official GP (ahead of Wilson Fittipaldi and Graham Hill), then scored that half point in only her second outing, the controversial Spanish race. Still, shes always going to be known in history as one of the few women to take part in Formula Oneone of five women to enter a race, one of two women to start a race, and the only one who has ever scored points. There were only two drivers per car back then, and we managed the two-and-a-bit-hour stints easily. Unfortunately, a major miscalculation in the Jean Sage-run team led to their retirement, when they ran out of fuel. Such was her tenacity that she basically taught herselfand also worked for her parents to save the money to pay for her first car, which she bought at the age of 24. READ MORE: F1s 'one-win wonders' how many do you remember? Frugarolo. Had Lombardi not begun to get sicklater discovered to be breast cancershe likely would have continued in racing past the late 80s, when she was forced to retire. Or become a seller if you've got a car to sell. She has also driven the highest number on a Formula One car - #208, which was used on her debut at the 1974 British Grand Prix, but did not qualify. Lombardi enjoyed a successful association with Osella. The early days of her love affair with motorsports saw her sneak into Brooklands racing circuit wearing mechanics overalls, offering to help any mechanic or driver who would accept it. 2023 by Bump & Beyond. He eventually qualified fifth, from where he triggered a first-corner pile-up. Lella was survived by her partner, Fiorenza. Lella only complained about the inequality of Formula 1 because nobody had listened to her about changes for the car. But I dont think he ever did a flying lap in that car. Initially we had wanted Inaltera as a sponsor, says team manager Vic Elford. Instead, it was her achievements that did the talking for her. I totally trusted him. The race continued for another four laps, resulting in Lombardis sixth-place finish. She wasnt rich and, with no sponsors to begin with, she slept in her truck to save money. If shed been a bit more glamorous perhaps more people would have noticed.. ), (key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap). There were 34 contestants for the 25 places on the grid, which made the prospect of the Italian getting into the race remote. Anyone seriously expecting the Italian girl to qualify for a place on the grid must show a lamentable knowledge of Grand Prix racing today, but this is no reflection on her efforts, which were very commendable.. The joyless Spanish Grand Prix of April 1975 ended in tragedy when the rear wing of Rolf Stommelens leading Hill failed with catastrophic result: dead bodies pinned beneath its wreck. Technically, because he was regarded by many as only semi-closeted as he often brought a girlfriend along to his races though friends and colleagues say most of them knew and werent bothered by it. Discover moreclassic cars| classic motorcycles and scooters, The story of the woman who invented the road trip, Attic stories: engines and ingenuity with Paola Lagnena, The customisable Mini Coopers that everyone wanted. We discovered her story while investigating iconic women from history. Lombardi was the first woman to qualify and compete in the Race of Champions in Brands Hatch and raced in sports cars. A former butcher's delivery driver turned F1 racer, she's still the only woman to ever rack up F1 World Championship points and was lovingly known by the press as 'Turin's Tiger'. Poles Lella was far from being the first female female pioneer in racing. Complete European F5000 Championship results, Complete Formula One World Championship results, Complete Shellsport International Series results, Complete British Formula One Championship results, Complete Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft results, "Information about Lella Lombardi from", "Trailblazing racer Lella Lombardi remembered, 30 years on from her death", "Pitstop pioneers: the queer drivers who changed motorsports", "Trailblazing racer Lella Lombardi remembered, 30 years on from her death | Formula 1", "Lombardi, Lella (1942) |", "Pioniere. We had a good relationship and we always agreed. Subscribe Shop Subscribe Articles F1 Articles F1 Opinion Mark Hughes History MotoGP Podcasts Competitions The Showroom Articles Her racing career would flourish from there onwards. After a brief experience with karting as a child, Lombardi bought her first car in 1965, racing in Formula Monza. (Shed already been farmed out to Williams at Watkins Glen the previous October, when her FW04 conked on the warm-up lap.) Apart from the Spanish Grand Prix, Lombardi would fail to score any more points despite an impressive result of 7th in Germany. Please update your cookie preferences, WATCH: F1 for beginners Everything you need to know about F1 ahead of the new season, Live Blog 26 March 1941(1941-03-26)Frugarolo, Italy She won the race again in 1981 with Giorgio Francia, with whom she had also won the Vallelunga Six Hours. Just racing and fishing.. Lombardi and Beckers qualified fourth at Daytona, but crashed out after 78 laps when a slower Porsche suffered a blow-out as Beckers drew alongside. Lella Lombardi is a name firmly etched into the motorsport history books. Painful. Lella Lombardi was born in 1941 in Frugarolo, a small village in Piedmont, the fourth daughter of a cured meat industrialist. Lombardi is the most successful out of all five women who have competed in Formula 1. Montjuich 1975: Lella Lombardi hustles her March to sixth place and the only GP point for a woman albeit halved by the shortened race. She was, however, ahead of fellow non-qualifiers Vern Schuppan, Howden Ganley, Mike Wilds and Leo Kinnunen. Lombardi returned to F1 in 1976 for the British Grand Prix but failed to qualify the aging RAM Racing Brabham BT44 she was piloting. She told me shed been hit on her breast during a sailing trip and it hurt very much. Just her racing. Lombardi died of breast cancer in Milan on March 3, 1992. [10], Lombardi retired from racing in 1988. Long and successful associations with Osella and Alfa Romeo followed. 2023 by Bump & Beyond. Explore our range of classic cars and spark your own racing career. Lombardi finished 31st. Lombardi's performances in 1975 were hampered by a cracked rear bulkhead Robin Herd freely admitted in an interview we did in 2009 that he and Max Mosley had "had her over" in 1975, and said that he was most impressed with her performance finishing seventh at the Nurburgring in a race of attrition as she was battling with a puncture. In '74 the title was won by Bob Evans in a T332. Only a last minute threat by the race organisers to have the entirety of the Formula One equipment impounded by the police induced the drivers to practise in the last session. That she was a woman was an irrelevancy to Lella. She worked hard to get what she wanted. Lombardi succeeded at qualifying this time and would be in the field for the South African Grand Prix. Lella Lombardi Where better to begin than with the most successful female F1 driver of all time: Lella Lombardi. Maria Grazia Lombardi had spent 10 years climbing motor racings rungs, beginning with the Monza-based Formula 875. Born in Frugarolo, Piedmont, she participated in 17 Formula One World Championship Grands Prix, debuting on 20 July 1974. She moved on to Formula Three in 1968. 3 March 1992(1992-03-03) (aged50)Milan, Italy The latest news, updates and more straight to your inbox. In 1974, Lombardi was the first female racing driver to qualify and compete at the Race of Champions in Brands Hatch. [14] This need for financial support is combated by the rise of the W-series, which started in October 2018. During one of the most controversial weekends in F1 history, set amid a notoriously dangerous Barcelona street circuit . Leena Gade is one of a growing number of female engineers in the sport, with multiple Le Mans victories to her credit while working for AudiSport. Proudly created Lombardi is one of two female drivers to qualify for Formula One and is the only female who scored points in Formula One. Thats something I dont have any problems sharing with my male colleagues. It was too much too soon. Born near Turin, Italy, neither of Lombardis parents knew how to drive. The final Grand Prixfor Lombardi was in Austria; a 12th place was her reward. 26 March 1941. Check here for latest versions. She qualified. From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository. Lombardi practiced her skills behind an F1 car in several non-championship events. However, Lombardi had an eventful driving career, aside from Formula One. Lombardi bought her first car in 1965, competing in Formula Monza. You are currently using an outdated browser. Born in 1941 in Frugarolo, Italy, Lombardi first started driving as the delivery person for her family shop (they were butchers). Well, I dont agree at all. In situations where options are slim, you have to take every opportunity that comes your way. And Lombardi did. She performed exceptionally well. She raced in Italian F3 for the next two years, finishing 10th in the championship both times and beating rated hotshoe Maurizio Flammini in a heat at Vallelunga. The accident shortened the race but Lombardi still secured the only F1 championship points for a female ever and the first for somebody openly queer. Races During the 1980s Lombardi raced touring cars but her form struggled due to ill health - initially chest pains, although the reality would turn out to be much worse. She was very professional and we enjoyed working with her. Lombardis friends remember her fondly as someone humble who enjoyed her life but understood its difficulties. Lombardi grew up in Italy and developed an interest in racing by driving a delivery van for her family. But she was a fighter and never gave up even through the operations. At that time, sixth place was the final points-scoring position in a race. View the profiles of people named Lella Lombardi. I feel sorry for her and wonder about it even now.. Two years later she further proved her ability as she won four of the 10 Formula 850 races in a Biraghi, and went on to take the championship in 1971. Delightful. Others obsessed about her gender and sexuality, but Lella couldnt care less about any of that. The likes of Tony Brise, Brian Henton, Alan Jones, Larry Perkins and Danny Sullivan didnt even make Monacos final. Look for the latest news stories and features, sent straight to your inbox! She wasnt one of those tossers that arrive in F1 from time to time. Search instead in Creative? Her best result of the season would come at her last Grand Prix, 12th place in Austria. Many male drivers at the time couldnt bear to lose to Lombardi, a woman, and would do everything in their power, including tampering with her car, to keep her from succeeding. Something, however, did get lost in translation. However, as were her wishes, the team remained active after her death and remains so today. Determined. But even today we associate motorsports with something overly fraternal. When Lella Lombardi climbed out of her Matra after the shortened 1975 Spanish Grand Prix, she didnt believe shed done anything unique. [1] Her father was a butcher, who gave Lella her first job as a delivery driver for the family's shop. No entourage. 1974 British Grand Prix [12] According to The Multimedia Encyclopedia of Women in Today's World, because of Lella Lombardi, there are more women involved in other aspects of Formula One, especially "traditionally female" jobs such as modeling. Thats the one I remember. For a long time, motorsports was defined by its fraternal culturethe big cars, big engines and even bigger egosa high-octane experience that wasn't particularly accessible to people who didnt fit into the straight male mould. We were quite close on lap times, and what was nice with her is that she would hand the car back to me exactly as it was when I had handed it to her. Rather than ask to be entirely funded in her efforts behind the wheel of the Brabham, she paid her way herself. She was third behind Keith Holland and champion-elect Bob Evans when a race at Snetterton was temporarily halted after six laps because of rain, then finished fifth after a collision with Holland while fighting for the lead on the restart. She had an image to keep: Im tough so dont mess with me. She was a loner, really. And much of the team that backed him in Formula 1 were wealthy gay men. Her success gave visibility to trans people and a narrative the public hadnt come into contact with that transitions werent smokescreens for the perceived undercurrent of male homosexuality. A very distant 12th place at the next race, Austria, was Lombardis final GP. [13] Journalist Phil Pash reports that though Lombardi viewed racing as a masculine sport, she succeeded regardless because of her competitive spirit. [13] Among others who comment on the effects of Lombardis legacy is Matt Majendie, who writes about Jamie Chadwick. Beuttler was known for his canary-yellow racing look. But her 1975 season, too, was a pretty unfortunate year. In fact she had already come close to making her GP debut. She was passionate about racing. [2] At first, Lombardis father found her passion for racing hard to accept but embraced it once she finished runner-up in a 1968 race. She is the only woman to win points in Formula One, winning half a point in the Spanish Grand Prix. Even Jochen Mass, declared the precipitate winner after 29 laps, scrambled from his McLaren with a face like thunder and threatened violence to smug officials. We knew what shed done beforehand and clearly she was very capable.. Originally from Frugarolo in Piedmont district of Italy, Lombardi climbed through the junior Formulas, becoming the Ford Escort Mexico Champion and putting on a very assured performance in the Monaco F3 race, ahead of then future World Champion, Alan Jones. Half points awarded, Classified finish (retired with >90% race distance), Non-classified finish (<90% race distance). In 1974, Lombardi became the first woman to race at the Race of Champions at Brand Hatch. The race only continued for four more laps before it was stopped. ", "The rest of the drivers proceeded to put on a display of shunting never before seen. While apremature end to a life and career that had not reachedits full potential, Lella Lombardi nevertheless made her point; no one can take that away from her. Lella Lombardi: "Preferisco un incidente che innamorarmi",,, Italian Formula Three Championship drivers, Sportspeople from the Province of Alessandria, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License 3.0, This page was last edited on 6 January 2023, at 21:48. Lombardi had also raced in the Firecracker 400 NASCAR race at the Daytona International Speedway in 1977. This feature is currently not available because you need to provide consent to functional cookies. Starting in karting and moving to Formula Monza and Formula Three, Lombardi advanced through racing until she reached Formula One. Lombardi was born in Frugarolo, a small town in Piedmont in Italy. She won [from the third row, beating Jacques Laffite and Mike Wilds] and we became very friendly and kept in touch. That she got as far as she did is a testament to her character. That includes both domestic and international flights. Last Race Robin Herd freely admitted in an interview we did in 2009 that he and Max Mosley had had her over in 1975, and said that he was most impressed with her performance finishing seventh at the Nurburgring in a race of attrition as she was battling with a puncture. Because it was a short race, Lombardi was only awarded a half of a point. Here, Lombardi ran her best race of the year according to observers, finishing seventh, just missing out on acquiring a full point. We would never fight. We miss her passion, determination and modesty., Lombardi checked into Milans San Camillo Clinic in February 1992 and died on March 3, days short of her 51st birthday. In fact we got zero PR from it. Speaking in this month's. Despite these early successes, Lombardis career was marred with obstacles. [5] She was 50 years old and was buried in Frugarolo. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States. As a greater number of females participate in entry-level racing from a young age, we will eventually see another one meet and surpass the groundbreaking achievements of Lella Lombardi. And because its usually the woman of the house who makes the major interior design decisions, we decided to run an all-woman crew. People were staring and peeping. With assistance from her partner Fiorenza, sister and brother-in-law, the Lella cover was soon blown by newsworthy results and, by 1967, she was contesting Italian Formula 3 in a Branca-Ford. There were two other female drivers in the field: American Janet Guthrie and Belgian Christine Beckers.