These Dutch Sisters Broke Into The Good Old Boys Vintage Car Racing Scene

Illustration for article titled These Dutch Sisters Broke Into The Good Old Boys Vintage Car Racing Scene

Palermo, Sicily — Vintage car racing is, for the most part, a good old boys club; the emphasis being on 'old' and 'boys.' But there are exceptions, and a few popped up at this weekend's Targa Florio vintage car race in Sicily.

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Two of them were Loes and Annemarie van de Velde, svelte blondes driving an even more svelte 1950 Healey Silverstone to a 49th place finish.

While there were plenty of women hanging around this weekend's race (lots of wives, and more than a few younger wives of older husbands were co-drivers), there were still less than a dozen registered as primary drivers. That's less than five percent of the more than 200 drivers entered in the race.

The Targa Florio had a winner, but it was mostly for fun. Bearing that in mind Loes and Annemarie van de Velde made a pretty good team, not only because they finished in the top quarter, but also because they cut a striking figure. Don't ever let anyone tell you that handsome Nordic faces, white jackets, vintage racing helmets, and beautiful antique red sports cars don't mix, because they do, and style counts for a lot in an event like this one. It's almost the entire point of it.

Illustration for article titled These Dutch Sisters Broke Into The Good Old Boys Vintage Car Racing Scene

It's nice to see ladies at the tiller in a hot car, rather than in the passenger's seat, like The Most Stereotypical Lamborghini Driver In The World's Concubine (I really wish that guy had showed up; even though this race had absolutely nothing to do with Lambos). But before I start spouting chauvinistic crap about how ladies are more genteel, and add balance to an aggressive sport, blah blah blah — that would be an inaccurate generalization, anyway — I should say that, from a male perspective, getting beaten by a woman is good for your ego. Plus, it's better to see women and cars as a functional team, rather than as a backdrop for someone's semi-pornographic fantasy (y'know, the grease smeared bombshell with a wrench, etc.).

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The van de Veldes and their handful of feminine compatriots brought a touch of class to the Targa Florio that the horde of white-haired industrialists who usually populate expensive car events don't have (not that I have anything against white-haired industrialists — they collect really fantastic cars). They just looked right.

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Illustration for article titled These Dutch Sisters Broke Into The Good Old Boys Vintage Car Racing Scene

If the Targa Florio's organizers had inlcuded the paper plate awards I suggested they hold during the closing ceremony, the Dutch duo would have gotten an award for "Best Looking Team," lettered by hand in my own uneven scrawl (complete with stick figures). But there were a lot of white haired industrialists there who thought they were the best looking team, so management told me to take my impecunious self to a champagne and bikinis NASCAR party and leave them alone. I'm pretty sure they would have picked the two old gentlemen driving the 1927 665 Superba anyway (hell, they looked pretty good in their car, too).

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Loes van de Velde has shown her pretty face at classic car races before, as her father Geert's co-driver in a Lagonda M45. This time around, Geert ditched his girls to make room for his wife in his 1953 Aston Martin DB2 Vantage. And he paid for it, coming in 71st place; squarely beaten by his progeny.

I also suggested to the Targa Florio's organizers that for next year, they should solicit two ladies to enter the race in a Lamborghini Countach, dressed in matching one piece jumpsuits, of course. This being Sicily, I was handed a newspaper-wrapped fish and told never to return.

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We'll see if they change their minds next year.

Illustration for article titled These Dutch Sisters Broke Into The Good Old Boys Vintage Car Racing Scene
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Photo credit: Benjamin Preston

DISCUSSION

Awesome article! The reports on vintage racing and classic touring hobbies are too full of rich old white guys in cars we've seen over and over and over again. There are plenty of young people, some of them even female, who enjoy these activities. We never hear about them because they aren't a) rich, b) driving a Miura or Alfa TZ, or c) didn't win. Thanks for highlighting the non-fezza, non-industrialist competitors.

I don't like the tone of some of the comments. People seem to be bitching and moaning about this article for reasons I don't understand. Touring events are fun. Get a car and participate. You don't need to be rich or famous to do this.

This arm of the automotive hobby does take some money for participation. It's not out of reach though. I'm your average software idiot and love roaring around in my Austin Healey 3000 (mark 1, the cheaper, less luxo-bloated and oddly less desired model than the spendy ones you've seen sold to dentists on Barret-Jackson) that you can buy for far less than a Camry. We wouldn't make the event reports you read, because I don't look like George Clooney, we wouldn't win, and there are a ton of cooler cars involved.

However, at the end of the day, my co-pilot and I will have as huge grins on our faces as the industrialists. Fellow participants will have fun too as my car isn't so dear as to keep me from spinning the wheels or enjoying a touch of trailing throttle oversteer (within reason, on a closed course, trained professional, do not attempt).

Join the fun. Go get a car, fix it up and come drive the hell out of it with me. You can find cool things like Bimmer 2002s or old British cars for cheap. You don't need to be the nervous guy in the Miura to have fun.

Stepping off the soap box. More stuff like this.