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As we continue into the roots of automotive history, it’s impossible to overlook the remarkable contributions of women who have left an indelible mark on the industry. One such luminary is Joan Newton Cuneo, a woman whose passion for speed and automobiles propelled her into the spotlight during an era when female drivers were a rarity.



In celebrating Women’s History Month, it’s fitting to pay tribute to Joan Newton Cuneo, not just for her gender, but for her sheer audacity, skill, and unwavering determination that defied the conventions of her time.

Born in 1876, Joan Newton Cuneo emerged as a formidable figure in the early 20th century automotive scene. While the world of motorsport was predominantly male-dominated, Cuneo fearlessly broke through barriers, showcasing her prowess behind the wheel and earning respect and admiration along the way.joan_cuneo-1
What sets Cuneo apart from her contemporaries is not just her gender, but her remarkable achievements on the racetrack. She wasn’t content with simply participating; she sought victory with an unyielding fervor. In 1905, Cuneo stunned the world by winning the prestigious Glidden Tour, a grueling long-distance endurance race, becoming the first woman to achieve such a feat.

Her triumphs didn’t end there. Cuneo continued to push boundaries and set records, cementing her legacy as one of the most accomplished drivers of her time. Her skill and determination were evident in every race she entered, inspiring generations of women to pursue their passions regardless of societal constraints.

Beyond her racing accolades, Cuneo was also a vocal advocate for women’s rights and empowerment. At a time when women were fighting for basic freedoms, she used her platform to champion equality and challenge stereotypes. Her mere presence on the racetrack was a powerful statement, defying the notion that certain domains were off-limits to women.

Cuneo’s legacy extends far beyond her racing triumphs. She paved the way for future generations of women to pursue their dreams in the male-dominated world of motorsport. Her tenacity, resilience, and unbridled passion serve as an inspiration to all who dare to defy expectations and chart their own course.

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, let us not only honor the trailblazers of the past but also recognize the unsung heroes like Joan Newton Cuneo, whose contributions have shaped the automotive landscape and paved the way for a more inclusive future.

In the world of automobiles, Joan Newton Cuneo remains a timeless symbol of courage, perseverance, and the enduring spirit of women everywhere. Let her story serve as a reminder that no dream is too big, no challenge too daunting, and that with determination and resilience, anything is possible.

Tina Ormond

Written by Tina Ormond