Lella Lombardi, an LGTBI + icon in car racing and the only woman who has scored points in Formula 1

Motorsport has never been a sport with a large presence of women. Despite being formally co-ed, it’s still a rarity to run into a girl at a car race. In fact, only two have ever participated in a race Formula 1, and one especially stands out: Lella Lombardi.

Lombardi is the only woman who has scored points in a Formula 1 race. She did so in 1975 in the disastrous Montjuïc tragedy that closed the Barcelona circuit forever. Additionally, Ella Lombardi is one of only three drivers in Formula 1 history to openly declared homosexual.

Lombardi added half a point in the catastrophe that closed Montjuïc

Lombardi Brabham F1 1974

Born in 1941 in Italy in the midst of the fascist dictatorship of Benito Mussolini, Lombardi had two secrets hidden from her parents throughout her childhood: his passion for car racing and his homosexuality. Curiously, it was they who had instilled her speed in him by making her deliver the orders from the family butcher’s shop in a truck.

It was after a great result in Formula Monza that Lombardi began to appear in the newspapers and his parents found out about his other life. Already uncovered, “the Tigress of Turin”, as she was nicknamed, shone in the small categories: runner-up in Formula 3 Italy and winner of the Formula 850. From there to the Formula Ford Mexico, its definitive hatching.

Lombardi F1

After an unsuccessful debut in a Bernie Ecclestone-rented Brabham at Silverstone, Lombardi found a seat as regular driver on the March team for the 1975 season. There she became the second woman to run a Formula 1 race after María Teresa de Filippis, whom she would surpass to be the best in history.

Lombardi participated in up to twelve races between 1975 and 1976, reaching his peak in the 1975 Spanish Grand Prix, a fateful event in the history of Formula 1. It was only his second race, but Lombardi managed to score for the first and only timealthough he could not celebrate it.

Lombardi F1

The weekend was turbulent. Most of the pilots Lombardi included, refused to participate in free practice on Friday and wanted to sabotage the entire Grand Prix because of the unsafe circuit. Finally, after much pressure from the FIA, on Saturday they agreed to race without being very convinced.

Someone like Emerson Fittipaldi only did a few laps at low speed to avoid pre-classification and go home that same day. Lombardi qualified in twenty-fourth place from the grid, just ahead of Arturo Merzario. But the race was a real chaos that the Italian managed to survive.

Lombardi March F1

The accidents followed each other until on lap 25 the German Rolf Stommelen went against the protections in an area packed with the public. The car overcame the barriers and hit the fans, with the disastrous result of four dead and ten wounded. Obviously, the race was terminated immediately.

After only 25 laps, only eight of the 25 cars that took the start were left on the track. One of them was that of Lella Lombardi, who was riding in sixth position, the last one that gave the right to points. As 75% of the race distance was not reached, only half was shared: Lombardi added 0.5 points. The only ones of a woman in Formula 1.

Lella Lombardi

He never returned to Montjuïc. That same season, Lombardi was very close to hunting another point in another chaotic circuit, the mythical Nürburgringwhich would end up closed just one season later by the famous Niki Lauda’s accident. Lombardi finished seventh and without losing a lap, really close to scoring.

In the 73-year history of Formula 1 and more than 1,000 races, there have only been two women who have taken the start of a Grand Prix, Filippis and Lombardi. Our protagonist, moreover, is one of three pilots who have openly declared their homosexualityaccompanied by Mike Beuttler and Mário Araújo de Cabral.

Lella Lombardi F1

After making history in Formula 1, Lombardi raced in endurance, finishing on the podium in the 250 kilometers of Imola, winning three times the 6 Hours of Mugello, Enna and Vallelunga and participating in the 24 Hours of Le Mans up to four timeswith a podium in the GT category with a Lancia Stratos.

Unfortunately, her life ended much sooner than she wanted, as Lombardi had to face breast cancer and ended up dying in 1992, when she was only 51 years old. For the memory, the most famous phrase of his: “I’d rather have an accident than fall in love. That’s how much I love racing.”

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I started to play with tech since middle school. Smart phones, laptops and gadgets are all about my life. Besides, I am also a big fan of Star War. May the force be with you!

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