Gwenda Stewart [née Glubb; other married names Janson; Hawkes], Gwenda Mary (1894–1990), racing driver,
Gwenda Stewart [née Glubb; other married names Janson; Hawkes], Gwenda Mary (1894–1990), racing driver, was born at Burnaby Villas, Fulwood, Preston, Lancashire, on 1 June 1894, the daughter of Frederic Manley Glubb (1857–1938), captain and later major-general in the Royal Engineers, who was created KCMG in 1918, and his wife, Frances Letitia, née Bagot (1861/2–1959). She combined Cornish and Irish descent. The army officer and Arabist Sir John Bagot Glubb [Glubb Pasha] was her younger brother. In January 1913 she became a student at St Hilda's Hall, Cheltenham, a residential college attached to Cheltenham Ladies' College. As Gwenda Stewart she continued to make record attempts at Montlhéry, many of them in the presence only of official observers and time keepers rather than in front of crowds. She later remarked that the autodrome at Montlhéry was a home from home for her. In 1929 she set a series of records there in a Morgan three-wheeler, achieving 101.5 m.p.h. With S. C. H. Davis as co-driver, in 1930 she set further Morgan records, including an average of 72.72 m.p.h. over twelve hours. In 1930 Douglas Hawkes acquired the Derby-Miller car which he adapted for Stewart's subsequent record attempts. At the Arpajon speed trials she reached 140 m.p.h. followed in early 1931 by a world 10 mile record of 137.20 m.p.h. That year she was elected to honorary membership of the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) and at the Paris Motor Show was awarded the Montlhéry challenge trophy for her record attempts at the autodrome. In poor health during 1932, she returned to the track in 1933, achieving a lap time at Montlhéry of 140 m.p.h. in the Derby-Miller. She raised this to 147.79 m.p.h. in a Derby Special in a drive which ended with her front two wheels torn off, and her suffering from mild concussion. She took part in the Le Mans 24 hour race in 1934 and 1935, in a Derby, but failed to finish on either occasion.Encouraged by the Brooklands promoters, who welcolmed the publicity, a contest between Gwenda Stewart and Kay Petre was arranged for the August bank holiday meeting in 1935.Both women earned prestigious Brooklands 130 m.p.h. badges: two of a total of seventeen issued before 1939.Remarkable for her speed and endurance ability on two, three, and four wheels, she was regarded by S. C. H. Davis, who co-drove with her and supported many twenty-four hour attempts, as the greatest woman driver of her time.
Citation : Williams, J. (2014) Stewart [née Glubb; other married names Janson; Hawkes], Gwenda Mary (1894–1990), racing driver. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: Oxford University Press, 2013 http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/92722
Research Group : International Centre for Sports History and Culture
Peer Reviewed : Yes
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