Meet the ‘Scorchers’ – the daring, dashing women who blazed a trail on the early motor racing circuits…
In a world dominated by Top Gear-obsessed men, photojournalist Lara Platman wants to remind us that the early years of motoring did not just belong to the boys. Women have been racing and driving fast since the invention of the combustion engine. Girl Racers is a celebration in words and photographs of an intrepid new breed of liberated women who lived for speed.
Fearless women such as Camille de Gast who, in 1903, became the first woman racing driver, and before her, Bertha Benz, the wife of Karl Benz, who in 1888 was the first woman to drive a motor vehicle solo, and Englishwoman Dorothy Levitt who broke the women’s speed record in 1906, reaching 91mph in her ninety horsepower six cylinder Napier. Or what about Mrs Victor Bruce, the first woman to be prosecuted for speeding, who in 1927 drove non-stop from John O’Groats to Monte Carlo, where she finished sixth in the Monte Carlo Rally.
‘There is a feeling of flying through space. I never think of the danger. That sort of thing won’t do. But I know it is omnipresent. The slightest touch of the hand and the car swerves, and swerves are usually fatal.’ – Dorothy Levitt, November, 1906
These women were not only bold however, but also practical; Miss Levitt advised her fellow girl racers to ‘carry a little hand-mirror in a convenient place when driving’ so one could ‘not only put one’s lipstick’ but to ‘hold it aloft from time to time in order to see behind while driving in traffic.’ Thus the rear-view mirror was born.
It was these women who that inspired Lara as she drove at Silverstone to gain her own racing license. Supplemented by interviews with modern women drivers on the racing circuit and retired ladies who may have put down their racing gloves have plenty of stories to tell, as well as Lara’s own adventures in search of them. Girl Racers will contain photos of old and new, many of which have never been seen before. From support of the readers, Unbound will be able to bring these women alive for a new generation of potential ‘scorchers’.
You can watch Lara’s fabulous pitch video or read an extract at:
Those who pledge for Girl Racers at Unbound.co.uk will receive a beautifully bound, limited edition copy of the book, complete with their name in print. Readers can pledge as little as £10 for the digital edition, or as much as £300 to join Lara for a day’s guided tour and test drive at the historic Bentley Factory in Crewe.
4th April, 2013