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Lombardi, Lella (1942—)

Lombardi, Lella (1942—)

Internationally famous Italian racing-car driver, known as "the Tigress of Turin," who was the first woman to compete in the U.S. Grand Prix. Born in 1942 in Italy.

Women began competing as grand-prix racing drivers as early as 1958, when Anna-Maria de Fillipis competed in three Formula One events. Not until the early 1970s, however, did a woman racing driver become internationally famous. Credit for this achievement goes to the Italian driver Lella Lombardi, who came up through the ranks in European Formula car racing. She started in Formula Italia, the Italian single-seaters which use the Fiat 850 engine, and from there went into Formula Three and finally Formula 5000. Known to her fans and the media as "the Tigress of Turin," Lombardi quickly developed an international reputation for skill and daring. Her achievements served to inspire other women in racing, including Australia's Sue Ransom , who saw Lombardi race in Australia during 1973. In 1974, when Lombardi made her first Formula One outing at the wheel of a privately entered Brabham in the British Grand Prix, she just missed qualifying. In 1975, she finished sixth in the Spanish Grand Prix, and soon after became the first woman to score a point counting toward the world driving championship. At Watkins Glen, New York, in October 1975, Lombardi became the first woman to compete in the U.S. Grand Prix.

sources:

Katz, Michael. "James Hunt and Lella Lombardi: Racing 'Odd Couple,'" in The New York Times Biographical Service. August 1974, pp. 1107–1108.

Pash, Phil. "Miss Lombardi Aims At Auto Sex Barrier," in The New York Times Biographical Service. October 1975, p. 1297.

Stell, Marion K. Half the Race: A History of Australian Women in Sport. North Ryde, New South Wales: Angus & Robertson, 1991.

John Haag , Associate Professor of History, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia

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