Sports have always been a tough area for women. Having been told they can’t compete. That professional leagues would not attract enough viewers. Not being taken seriously. Been abused by coaches. Underpayed. Sexualized. Those who have fought against the systematic abuses have to be acknowledged. Women like Babe Didrikson, Serena Williams, Manon Rheaume, Billie Jean King, Danica Patrick, Althea Gibson, Lisa Leslie, and many others. They fought for equality in sports for women.
Sports like hockey, tennis, soccer, golf, and basketball have afforded a few women the chance to make a living. One of the rare ones in which women compete directly with men is racing. As such they have a harder time infiltrated the world. They are dismissed as not physically capable nor as good drivers as men.
Maybe more than most racing has been a sport in which women have been excluded. For many reasons. There have been a few who have braved the disdain and waded into the unwelcoming waters. One such name is Italian driver Lella Lombardi. Now, I have to admit that I am not a racing fan, but I am a sports fan and had never heard of Lella Lombardi until watching this documentary.
Born in 1941, Lella grew up in small town in Italy. One day after a fast drive in a Fiat she found her true love – racing. For the rest of her life she was devoted to it. This despite the fact that women did not race. She did not give up. Forcing the hand of racing by winning lower classed races, her career peaked in 1975. That year by placing 6th in the Spanish Grand Prix, Lella Lombardi became the first women to earn points in an F1 race. So impressive and rare a feat that no woman has done it since.
While her story is told through a combination of photos, animation and an interview with her niece Patrizia (as Lella died of breast cancer in 1992). Right beside this story is the one told about women in racing. Several female racers driving today are interviewed about what Lella meant to them and what it is to be a female driver in a sport dominated by men.
You feel her legacy and how the fight still continues for female drivers today. 44 years later and the fight continues. Documentaries like this one are important not only because it shines a light on a pioneer, but gives something for young women to aspire to. Shows them that if they are passionate they should not allow sexism to discourage them.