Legendary Ladies Of Motorsport: Anne Hall
How badass is your grandmother? Did she ever beat Graham Hill round Monaco’s Grand Prix circuit by a full 6.6 seconds in a Ford Falcon? Is she quoted as having said, “I never go touring; I always drive to win”? Thought not.
During a career that spanned the second half of the 20th Century, Anne Hall (née Newton) competed in 13 Montes, 12 RACs, 11 Alpines, seven Tulips, four Safari events and four Acropolis events. She won a roomful of Ladies’ Cups along with other awards, held a joint European Ladies Rally Championship in 1955 and was a member of the exclusive British rallying club Ecurie Cod Fillet. Corgi commemorated the spot as third overall finisher at the East African Safari Rally in 1961 with a model of her Ford Zephyr Mr II. And don’t forget her three children. They make them hardy in Yorkshire.
The daughter of north England’s main Jaguar dealer, Hall learnt how to reverse rapidly down her family home’s driveway from a young age. Her father requested a miniature prototype sports-car instead of the Citroen sales award he was collecting in Paris. She soon graduated onto the full size cars in her father’s garage. Her 17th birthday present was a Wolseley Hornet and a driving test, arranged for that afternoon. Reputedly, having already ruffled her examiner with the speed of her reversal, she thought she hadn’t been quick enough so reversed again even faster.
She used her skills as a driver to man ambulances during the Second World War, tearing around her home town of Huddersfield at break-neck speeds. But it was only having got the business of childbearing out of the way that Hall’s father suggested entering the 1951 RAC rally where hall won the Ladies Award, finishing seventh overall. She raced in a Jaguar XK120 with her sister, Mary. The duo became known as the “Mad Newton Sisters” showing immense skill, a hunger for competition and a thirst for speed.
Sheila Van Damme, the owner of London’s notorious joint the Windmill, soon approached Hall to team up. However, both were only interested in driving, so they brought along a navigator with them. Van Damme’s infamy secured the duo a fair amount of publicity, insisting on beginning and finishing each race herself. And while Hall was disparaging of Van Damme’s ability, the pair (or rather trio) rallied many times together, probably most notably the International Viking Rally in Norway. The final hundred miles was completed with a broken fan belt, stopping periodically to fill up the overheated radiator with water. They still won the ladies’ class.
Several manufacturers wanted Hall to be sitting behind their steering wheels, but it was Ford that she wanted. In 1957 she raced a Zephyr in the Tulip. The Zephyr saw her first major win in 1960. Partnered with Val Domleo, the team won the Morecambe Rally, a first for an all female team at a British national event. Hall enjoyed an eight year relationship with Ford, which is how she found herself head to head with Graham Hill at Monaco in 1964, both of them in Falcons.
Retirement from professional rally driving in 1964 didn’t mean hanging up her car keys. Hall set up an advanced driving school in Huddersfield which she ran until her 80th birthday. But the lure of historic car racing had her back in the driving seat from 1987 until 1993. Hall continued to be a key player in the rallying community for the last decade of her life, marshalling historic rallies and providing expert commentary and driving course cars. Anne Hall passed away on the eve of the Monte Carlo Rally in 2003.
As we said: badass.