Atalanta: Women as Racing Drivers -S.C.H. Davis

I’m not quite sure how to describe this book, or more specifically the author and his writing style.

SCH Davis was a racing driver, motor racing journalist, an advocate of women racing, co-founder of the Veteran Car Club and, clearly a man of taste, he owned a Frogeye. On the downside he shows himself to be very much a man of his era when he describes the women he is writing about as “attractive, little bundles of fun” and the like! It grates on my 21st century sensibilities to read this sort of sentence that patronises these incredibly determined, fiercesome women.

That said, it is an interesting book written by someone who actually knew some of the drivers he is writing about, which means there are a number of anecdotes that bring the characters of the drivers alive. It was nice to read about the drivers human side rather than just about their racing skills.

Most of the chapters are about drivers I already know something about. The best of these was about Margaret Allan, a member of the 1935 MG Le Mans team, Bletchley Park code-breaker and Vogue motoring correspondent.

The best of the chapters about people who were new to me are Madam Juneck, a Czech driver who came 5th in  the Targa Florio, and Sheila Van Damm, a driver in the 1950s.

Overall, I would describe this book as an interesting period piece written by an interesting period piece!

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