Updated: May 11, 2022
This week we are steering into the motor racing world with a piece on little known, but hugely inspiring Margaret Jennings; one of the greatest pre-war racers and record holders.
Photo: Margaret Jennings (nee Allen)
Born in 1909 in Renfrewshire, Jennings was a member of an affluent Scottish-Canadian family who owned a steamship company. A progressive family, Margaret was educated at Bedales, a school noted for its avant-garde and unorthodox teaching methods. Margaret’s mother instilled a drive for independence in her daughter and she learnt to drive as soon as she was old enough, to help her family.
At the age of 21, Margaret entered her first competitive motor sport competition, and proceeded to regularly take class and ladies wins. At 24, she competed internationally at the Monte Carlo Rally, placing 10th. Not bad for a first time! It was in this year of 1932 that she gained a taste for circuit driving and made her debut at Brooklands, Derbyshire (the only racetrack in the UK until 1933) in a supercharged, 2-litre Lagonda.
Photo: 2-litre Lagonda
It was 1934 when Margaret was asked to join the MG Cars all-female team for a 200-mile relay race at Brooklands, coming in third. She then went on to compete in several all-female races, with the climax of her career in August 1935 during which she became one of 4 women ever to receive the 120mph badge at Brooklands.
Photo: Margaret and her team
Sadly, due to the onset of the second world war, Margaret put her racing career behind her but her driving skills to use as an ambulance driver. After the war she because the motoring correspondent for Vogue, working with them from 1948-57. It was during this time that Margaret gained her final success in a competitive event in 1950, winning the ladies prize in the Circuit of Ireland rally.
A woman of many talents, having lived a long and varied career, Margaret sadly passed away in September 1998.
So aspiring racing drivers, start your engines! What are you waiting for?