Odette Siko was very much an enigma as well as being a true pioneer in women’s motor racing....
Odette Siko was very much an enigma as well as being a true pioneer in women’s motor racing.
Very little can be found about her early life. She first came to everyone’s attention in the late 1920’s. when she raced at a number of small circuits. Any kind of motor car racing back then was exclusively a male domain and wealthy ones at that.
Back then she was probably seen as an oddity and regularly ignored. However, in 1930, she entered the Le Mans 24 race in a Bugatti T40 as the first ever female entrant. Tt was impossible to ignore her any longer. Odette and her team mate, Marguerite Mareuse, finished in a remarkable seventh place at their first attempt. The following year, 1931, the duo returned to Le Mans finishing the race overall in ninth place. However, in a cruel twist, they were disqualified for refuelling too early. It is thought Odette misread a signal from the pits and brought the car in ‘illegally’. Not in any way put off, Odette returned to Le Mans in 1932, with a different partner, Louis Charaval. They competed furiously finishing fourth overall, but finishing first and outright Winners in the two-litre class.
This was the best-ever finish for a woman driver at Le Mans, a second first for Odette, and one which still stands today. A double first.
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