We were saddened to hear of the recent death of Leila Lombardi, who entered the record books on April 27 1975 by becoming the first woman to score a point — or at least half a point — in a World Championship F1 Grand Prix. Her March 75 1 was holding down sixth place in the Spanish GP at Montjuich Park when the race was stopped, Rolf Stommelen’s Embassy-Hill having left the track and careered into the crowd.
The ‘Tigress of Turin’, as she was affectionately dubbed, learned her craft in junior categories in her native Italy. She made her debut in 1965, in Formula 850, and was Formula Monza champion in 1969. She then moved on and up via Formula Ford to F3, F5000 and, at the 1974 British GP, F1. She failed to qualify her Brabham on that occasion, but — after shaking the Australian F5000 regulars with some stirring drives in a Matich during that winter’s Tasman series — she joined the circus full-time the following season, as Vittorio Brambilla’s team-mate at March.
Her career at the pinnacle of the sport was brief. In all she contested 12 Grands Prix, 10 of them with March in that ’75 season. The following year, she appeared just twice: once with March in Brazil, and latterly with a Brabham in Austria.
She later competed with distinction in both sports cars and touring cars, finishing 11th overall in the 1977 Le Mans 24 Hours and scoring class wins for Alfa Romeo in the European Touring Car Championship.
On March 3, aged 48, she finally succumbed to cancer after a long fight. MOTOR SPORT extends its sympathies to her family and many friends within racing.
It was distressing to hear of motor racing author Ken Wells’s sudden death, aged 42, on February 22. He collapsed and slipped into a coma while watching practice for a historic race meeting at Moroso Motorsports Park in Florida. Despite immediate medical attention, he never regained consciousness.
Ken, who traded from time to time as The Prancing Tortoise, was an occasional contributor to Motor Sport, and penned our recent features on Chaparral and Richard Petty. A frequent visitor to the States, he was also planning to conduct an interview with NASCAR supremo Bill France on our behalf. He was well-known for his ‘unofficial’ Le Mans annuals, and had several other book projects in the pipeline.
We mourn the passing of a cheerful motor racing enthusiast, and share his family’s sense of loss at this sad time. We extend our sympathies to them and to Ken’s numerous friends worldwide.
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