la sporting motoriste

Dorothy Levitt was reportedly the first woman in the world to compete in a motor race. She also authored a charming little book called Woman and the Car (1909) which was full of equally charming advice

carry a little hand-mirror in a convenient place when driving so you may “hold the mirror aloft from time to time in order to see behind while driving in traffic”

mirror

image found here

“If you are going to drive alone in the highways and the byways it might be advisable to carry a small revolver. I have an automatic colt and find it very easy to handle as there is practically no recoil –  a great consideration to a woman.”

cupandgun

“Pedestrians, according to the law, practically own the highways. Dogs, chickens and other domestic animals at large are not pedestrians, and if one is driving at regular speed one is not responsible for their untimely end.”

Dorothy was also very particular about what a lady driver should wear.

“Under no circumstance wear lace or fluffy adjuncts to your toilet. Do not heed the cry, ‘nothing like leather.’ Leather coats do not wear gracefully. It is not advisable to wear rings. Indispensable to the motorist is the ‘overall,’ this should be made of butcher blue linen in the same shape as an artist’s overall.”

furman-corset

photo by barnaby draper*

* ok, it’s not an overall but it’s still a beautiful photo

Published in: on January 10, 2009 at 8:54 am  Comments (25)  

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25 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I love the porcelain gun and cup, I used to know who it was by. Best wishes to the Nurse (there is only one) by Jahsonic.

  2. All women should carry a gun… a big one… and wear bikinis… so I’m going off on a tangent.

    Their untimely end… Dorothy sounds like a bit of a psycho if you ask me.

  3. Ah, how far down women have come in the racing world. There is only one woman, I believe racing in NASCAR, and none in hydrofoil racing that I know of. It’s obvious from the story that a woman invented the rear-view mirror. So how did we let it become a boys club for so long?

    Oh, and I’m totally tired of the “women drivers” jokes.

    That photo of the woman in the corset is fabulous, though. Well lighted and very professional. I’m sure your readers will approve.

  4. Sheesh, try wearing that corset in the traffic and see what happens, unless a 13 car pile up is what you want of course 😆

  5. I guess if your revolver has no recoil, small animals are safer from errant driving when firing in traffic.

  6. Dorothy was my kinda gal! it would be a bit challenging to drive in the lovely corset, though… i don’t think i could see the steering wheel!

    haha… having seen your Bionic Twins in person, I think you’re right 🙂

  7. Overall, that picture is smokin’ hot.

    Nothing like leather? More like nothing BUT leather!

  8. Someone said to me once:

    ‘You can drive looking constantly in the mirror, as long as the road ahead remains the same.’

    It was a metaphor to do with change…I’m concentrating on it very hard to distract me from the corset.

    I like a winding road Crofty. No time to look in the mirror…..

  9. She was a BADASS. Awesome.

  10. Ah, I love women who were “progressive” for their time. Gimme that revolver!

  11. Abigail! what do you need a revolver at the beach for?

  12. I drive in my ‘overall’ all the time… well, ok, perhaps not… but feeling sexy whilst driving is a must, surely?

  13. do you also do your kegel exercises at traffic lights?

  14. I say bring back driving gloves! And little hand-held mirrors! And running boards.

    There is no style in driving thee days.

  15. Thee days? How quaint.

  16. “thee days”? I love it! hey anaglyph – have you seen this short film of Tim Burton’s before? It reminded me of you

    http://aroom-of-ones-own.blogspot.com/

  17. I don’t have a car, Nursy. I have a horse, the gun wouldn’t work to well, all that jiggling you see. Girls here carry clubs here as there are no guns on the Island.:-)

  18. If I were to come for a visit may I have a club to carry too?

  19. She lost me at the no Leather rule.
    ;-(

  20. you and renalfailure seem to agree 🙂

  21. I think hot babes riding cars in leather can be very appealing. I disagree with her statements.

  22. that makes three of you who are dissenters

  23. Well, that is just the cutest little gun I’ve ever seen.

  24. A woman was actually knitting while driving.
    A trooper spotted this and came up along side her at an even speed.
    “Pull over” hollered the officer.
    “No … it’s a blanket” she yelled back.

  25. *groan*


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