Yvette Fontaine, the first woman motor sport champion
In motor sport, few women actually drive on the track and even fewer win. However, for roughly a decade, Yvette Fontaine had challenged men on a terrain that they believed to be their own.
Yvette Fontaine was born in Hasselt, Belgium, on 3 June 1946. While she was still a small child, the family moved to the area where the Circuit Zolder would later be established. She began her career at 18 years old. Almost by chance, she participated in a rally near her home. It was the beginning of a long adventure that would next take her to the circuits. For 12 years, Yvette Fontaine would drive alongside some of the biggest names, from Jacky Ickx to Jim Clarck. After landing second place in the Belgian Touring Car Championship in 1967, she clinched the victory two years later. Driving her Ford Escort Twin Cam GR 5, she lifted the title. It was a first for women, and to this day she remains the only one to have achieved such a feat! In 1971 and in 1975, she again became a female champion by gaining fame in endurance races such as the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (10 participations) and the 24 Hours of Le Mans (2 participations).
In her autobiography "Ma passion" [My Passion], Yvette Fontaine reveals her memories from a 12-year career of competitions, her championships, her titles and the cars she had piloted. All of her races, rallies, hill climbing events and record attempts are described in the publication.
When the book first came out in November 2016, the champion agreed to an interview with Belgian newspaper L'Echo, who asked if she had taken driving lessons. She replied, "No, I learned like that, on the road. Driving is something you either have or don't. I had my own way of driving. In any case, if everyone drove the same way, there would never be any overtaking on the track!"