Joan Richmond

International Motor Sport Pioneer


JOAN RICHMOND is a true pioneer of Australian international motorsport, regardless of gender, but all the more remarkable because of it.

She amassed exceptional victories in Australia, the UK and on the Continent.

In 1931 Joan and co-driver Mollie Shaw were fifth (out of 19 starters and six finishers) in the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island. 

Their average speed of 91.84kmh was faster than that of Arthur Waite when he won the inaugural Grand Prix at the same track four years before.

One year later Joan with English ace Elsie Wisdom won the first Brooklands 1000 motor race, held over two days, at an average speed of 141.59kmh against some of Britain’s top male competitors.

Their victory made front page news.

Joan had driven overland from Melbourne to London, just four years after the journey was achieved for the first time, in the opposite direction, by Australian pioneer Francis Birtles.

In the UK , Joan became a works driver for Riley, Singer, Triumph , MG, Aston Martin, HRG and AC.

She was part of MG’s class winning 1935 Le Mans 24 Hour team and competed in seven Monte Carlo Rallies.

Her motor racing career was marred by tragedy. In 1937 she was competing in the first Donnington Park 12 Hour race for AC. Her co-driver was her fiancé Bill Bilney, who proposed marriage on the eve of the race.

Bilney fatally crashed in his first stint.

She returned to Australia after WW11 and passed away in Malvern in 1999.