Winging her way from Irish tracks to midget-car racing

PastImperfect: Flying Fay Fay Taylour, or "Flying Fay from Dublin" as she became known, is one of the most intriguing of the…

PastImperfect: Flying FayFay Taylour, or "Flying Fay from Dublin" as she became known, is one of the most intriguing of the many women drivers to have graced the race tracks of Europe down through the years.

Taylour was unique in being the only woman who raced at Brooklands before the second World War, who then returned to the tracks after the conflict.

From a wealthy background, she grew up in Ireland with a reputation as a bit of a daredevil, be it riding horses or racing motorcycles and cars. Undoubtedly Taylour had an approach to life that drew her to excitement and she began racing motorcycles while still in her teens. She later became a successful trials and grasstrack rider, before turning to speedway racing when this sport boomed in the 1930s and became quite lucrative.

Taylour was very successful at speedway and became something of a household name in England and Australia as a result.

Brian Lewis, who later became Lord Essendon, encouraged Taylour to race cars in the early 1930s. Her first win came at the Brookland's track where she won the ladies' handicap race in a borrowed Talbot 105, lapping the outer circuit at a very impressive 107.8mph and beating several established stars in the process. It was in the same race the following year (in which she finished second at 113.97mph) that Taylour had the first of her many brushes with authority. Having taken the chequered flag, she continued on for several more laps at undiminished speed despite the best efforts of the authorities to stop her. She only brought her 2.6 Alfa Romeo to a halt after a marshal bravely stood in her path. Although Taylour regarded the whole incident as a huge joke, the officials of the BARC thought otherwise and disqualified her as well as imposing a hefty fine.

In the inaugural Leinster Trophy race at the Skerries circuit, Taylour drove a front-wheel-drive Adler Trumpf, recording a superb win which served to really establish her reputation as a fine driver. It also put her in the history books of Irish motorsport as the first winner of this most historic of Irish motor races which continues to this day.

More successes followed and after the ban on women racing on the Brooklands Mountain Circuit was lifted, Taylour borrowed a supercharged Alfa Romeo to break the lap records previously set by Malcolm Campbell and Raymond Mays.

Sadly, Taylour's association with the British Union of Fascists and Oswald Mosley led to her being interred in Britain for most of the second World War. However, when the war over, the irrepressible Taylour travelled to America where she took part in several sportscar races. While there, she was invited to try the popular American sport of midget-car racing on dirt tracks. No doubt aided by her speedway experience, Taylour took to midget-car racing with great success. As a result more races followed and she toured the world racing these cars.

In the mid-1950s she returned to England and raced a 500cc Cooper against such up-and-coming stars as Stirling Moss and Peter Collins, driving at all the post-war British tracks. It was not until the end of the 1950s that Taylour decided to retire from motor racing, finally moving to Dorset where this spirited lady died in August 1983 at the age of 80.