An interesting sight at the Gran Premio Siracusa was to see a 26-year-old Italian girl driving a grand prix Maserati and not teetering round at the back of the field in an effeminate way, but having a real go “up with the boys”.
This was Maria-Teresa de Filippis from Naples and, although it was her first outing in Formula One, she showed she was not frightened of the car, getting it into full-lock power slides through the corners and winding it up to well over 7000rpm in the gears. Although she is new to grand prix racing she is not new to motor racing, having driven an A6G sports Maserati in local races, at Monza in the Supercortemaggiore and in the Mille Miglia.
Having seen her performing in difficult street races at Naples and Bari it was no surprise to see her wring the neck of her newly-acquired grand prix car. To the Siracuse organisers and the Italian federation I give full marks for allowing her to take part in a grand prix, something the RAC are afraid to do, banning as they do such women as Nancy Mitchell, Patsy Burt and Jean Bloxam from any hope of competing in a Formula One event. On the other hand the RAC will accept Archie Scott Brown with his unfortunate deformity, yet the Italian federation will not allow him to take part in Italian races.
The FIA stands for the Federation International Automobile and is the governing body of all motor racing in Europe, yet they seem to have little or no control over the question of accepting women drivers or deformed male drivers, their only action being to “pass the buck” and retreat. The governing body of motor racing may be international in theory but it certainly is not in fact.
Denis Jenkinson was our famous Continental Correspondent for more than 40 years