• Ford SA celebrates the achievements of three women in SA motorsport.
• These ladies paved the way for many.
• All three have motorsport in their blood.
• For more motoring stories, go to www.Wheels24.co.za
To celebrate Women’s Month, Ford South Africa highlighted the achievements of three local women in motorsport. Ford said their accomplishments paved the way for other women to enter the motorsport scene, which only made highlighting their accolades that much easier.
But these three women were not the only ones to have made their mark in motorsport. Internationally, Vicki Wood and Janet Guthrie pioneered the space for women in motorsport, to more contemporary competitors like Sarah Fisher and Danica Patrick.
For today, however, our focus is on the #ProudlySA women who have carved out living legacies in SA. Here’s how Ford South Africa celebrates each of the following racers.
Clare Vale. (QuickPic)
Paige Lindenberg’s path through motorsport was illuminated, and mentored, by her father Peter Lindenberg – a 15-time SA Formula 1 Powerboating Champion and third in the 1989 World Championships. It’s in the genes, as many would say, and Paige quickly climbed up the motorsport ranks and formulas, pairing alongside her father on multiple occasions. Paige’s first motorsport championship would come at the age of nine in the Power Boating World Champs – competing in an age category well above her own – until her father’s near-fatal accident in 2002.
Afterwards, Paige continued to nurture her love for motorsport in the Polo regionals. The experience gained there, as well as a period in the grassroots Formula Ford single-seaters, allowed her to join her father in Historics Racing. This fruitful transition would galvanise the Ford brand and models far into her racing and business future.
Paige says: “Follow your dreams, never give up and fight for what you want in life.”
On the tarmac circuits around South Africa, Paige has the same determination at the wheel of the Shelby Ford Mustang as she does in her family-run business at Shelby-South Africa, the official Shelby American mod-shop in sub-Saharan Africa. Paige has grown up around Ford Mustangs and uses her race craft to grow the Shelby following in South Africa – you can often see her at various events at the wheel of the 560kW Shelby Super Snake!
Paige Lindenberg. (QuickPic)
Elvéne Coetzee-Vonk cut her teeth in rallying from a young age as a navigator for various teams and drivers before joining Neil Woolridge Motorsport this year in the South African Cross Country Series (SACCS). In 2020, she’ll be competing alongside double champion Lance Woolridge in a Ford Ranger.
Elvéne, daughter of the legendary Kassie Coetzee, is a prominent figure in the male-dominated world of motorsport. Her calmness and experience in the navigator’s seat have seen her earn the recognition of the country’s best drivers and teams.
Elvéne had her first taste of cross-country racing in the hot seat next to Poulter, and between 2015 and 2018, she shared the cockpit with various drivers in the Special Vehicle category of the SACCS (SA Cross Country Special Vehicle Champion).
She said: “I was extremely thrilled when I was approached by the Neil Woolridge Motorsport team to join the highly respected and multiple champion Lance Woolridge in the Ford Castrol Cross Country Team, and even more delighted when I learnt that we would be contesting the top-level FIA class.”
Elvéne is the most successful female navigator in South African rallying.
Elvéne Coetzee-Vonk alongside Lance Woolridge. (QuickPic)
Clare Vale has something of a kaleidoscopic motoring career that’s almost impossible to summarise. Her ambition knows no bounds, and she’s considered by many to be a stalwart of South African motorsport, with the records to show for it.
In March 2009, at the WesBank V8 race at Kyalami, Clare became the first female racer to take pole as well as lead a V8 race. Clare also became the first woman racer to finish on the podium in WesBank V8 Supercar history when she claimed third place in October 2010.
After mastering the enormous physicality of the WesBank Series, Clare Vale was never going to be intimidated by a racing car. With that early shot of confidence in her career, Clare moved through the ranks and formulas. She has also raced in the International Sports Prototype class, finishing 2nd in the championship in 2011, despite missing several races.
Most recently, Clare has become the first woman to participate in the Supadrift Series with the SN95 Black Art Racing Mustang producing 450kW from its V8 engine. “The Ford Mustang is definitely the most popular car I have ever driven. That Ford V8 makes peoples’ hair stand up when they hear it, and it has entertained crowds from Cape Town to Windhoek – everyone loves the iconic Mustang.”
“Motorsport is not easy, and I have learnt an enormous amount about myself since I started racing. It was tough starting out in a sport where most people had been doing it for decades, and it was also tough being a woman. All eyes are on you, so if you make a mistake or something goes wrong, you can be sure someone is rolling their eyes and muttering about female drivers! However, I have gotten far more out of racing than I have put in.”
Clare Vale. (QuickPic)
Compiled by: Charlen Raymond