When we think of outdoor activities and hard labour, we generally associate this with men.
We seem to forget that the greatest progression comes when we work together. We tend to leave out the parts of the story that actually make it worthwhile to know in the end. And though we may be in an age where we look at each other with an equal eye there are still situations of difficulty. For this reason, I want to take the time today to look back and look ahead at the women who have made and are making history.
Bertha Benz (Ringer) – The Beginning
You may have heard of a man called Karl Benz. He did something rather astounding by inventing the first automobile. Though I find that the truly remarkable aspect of his life was his relationship with his wife. Two people of the same mind they were able to discuss much of his work which led his wife, Bertha Benz (born Bertha Ringer), to take the road far less travelled. Bertha essentially became the first person to drive the automobile long distance when she decided to take Karl’s invention out on the road. Bertha Benz, 39 years old, on 5 August 1888 drove from Mannheim to Pforzheim with her sons Richard and Eugen, thirteen and fifteen years old respectively, in a Model III without her husband or the authorities knowing. Along her travels, she was able to gather information and bring about many new changes which things like suspension. The possibilities of the automobile had now actually arrived.
The Benz Patent-Motorwagen Number 3 of 1886, used by Bertha Benz for the highly publicized first long distance road trip, 106 km (66 mi), by automobile
Bertha Ringer, circa 1871, as she became Karl Benz’s business partner
Michèle Mouton – A Legend Among Men
If you haven’t yet heard of Michèle Mouton then I am certainly glad to introduce her to you. Born on the French Riviera in 1951 close to the mountain stages of the French rallies. Michèle began driving her father’s Citroen 2VC when she was about 14 years old but only took to rally when her friend Jean Taibi had requested her assistance in practice at the Tour de Corse. Later co-driving for him in the 1973 Monte Carlo rally. This was the first event in the newly formed WRC – World Rally Championship.
After co-driving in a few races her father suggested she become the driver to further her career. He bought her a car and she debuted at Criterium Automobile Féminin Paris – St. Raphael in 1974 in a Renault-Alpine A110.
Michèle went on to have a very fruitful career, which included teaming up with Christine Dacremont and Marianne Hoepfner to win the two-litre prototype category of the 1975 24-hour Le Mans. Though I think my favourite part of her career was when she got a call from Audi Sport in 1980 to sign her for testing a future WRC program for the 1981 season.
At this point, she was able to further her career in ways not really thought possible for women. She was able to continue paving the path for women in the industry of cars. Michèle Mouton has so much in her story which promotes tenacity and courage to conquer one’s dreams. Michèle went on to win a fair number of races and be the first women to win a major rally event. Another inspiration to women following a path which may be a bit off the beaten track.
Read more about Michèle Mouton: https://rallygroupbshrine.org/the-drivers/michele-mouton/
Jessi Combs – Metal Fabricator to Racer
In today’s world, it is quickly becoming the norm to have more than skill in possibly totally different fields. Jessi Combs gives us a great look at how we can remain relevant in our chosen fields while being multifaceted. Jessi is a metal fabricator by trade but long since dabbled in other industries working to getting women more recognized in the world of metalworking and racing. Jessi has appeared on Mythbusters and gained her popularity as a host on Xtreme 4X4.
Since then Jessi has made quite a name for herself:
- 2017 – Ultra 4 King of the Hammers – 12th – 4400 Class
- 2016 – Ultra 4 King of the Hammers – 1st – EMC Modified Class 
- 2015 – Rallye Aicha des Gazelles (9 off-road rally race) – 1st – First Participation – 10th overall
- 2015 – SCORE Baja 1000 – 2nd – Class 7
- 2014 – Ultra 4 King of the Hammers – 1st – Spec Class
- 2014 – Ultra 4 National Championship – 1st – Spec Class
- 2014 – Ultra 4 Western Region Series – 1st – Spec Class
- 2014 – Ultra 4 American Rock Sports Challenge – 3rd – Spec Class
- 2014 – Ultra 4 Glen Helen Grand Prix – 2nd – Spec Class
- 2014 – Ultra 4 Stampede – 1st – Legends Class
- 2013 – Set world land speed record – Fastest Woman on 4-Wheels – 398 mph with a top speed of 440 mph
- 2011 – SCORE Baja 1000 – 2nd – Class 10
On October 9, 2013, Combs drove the North American Eagle (NaE) Supersonic Speed Challenger at the Alvord desert, claiming the women’s 4-wheel land speed record with an official run of 398.954 mph (632 km/h) and a top speed of 440.709 mph (709 km/h). In doing so, she broke the 48-year-old women’s land speed record, a 308.51 mph run average, set by Lee Breedlove in 1965. September 7, 2016 Combs set a new top speed of 477.59 mph driving the Other American Eagle.
For more on Jessi Comb’s future events and so on do check out her website: https://www.jessicombs.com/
Women through the ages have enjoyed vehicles just as much as men. Though it is women’s month and I sincerely celebrate it I think it is also a great time to see that when we work together, we can change the future.
The article was written by:
Giulia Nigrini – Blk-ink Studio