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Driven by Desire: The Desiré Wilson story

Submitted by on September 21, 2011

Motorsport is full of incredible stories, amazing people, and impossible events. Desiré Wilson’s story has to rank among the most powerful and unique of them all.

Kicking off her lifelong involvement in motorsport at age five, she has raced the world over in Formula One, Indy Car, and World Sports Cars.

Desiré has tamed the world’s most magnificent and demanding races, and the cars that make them. She took a Porsche 956 to seventh place in the 1983 24 Hours of Le Mans, one of the nine 956s that dominated the top ten that year. She is the first, and only, woman ever to have won a Formula One race of any kind, claiming the top spot on the podium at Brands Hatch as part of the British Formula One Series in 1980. More victories came at Monza and Silverstone in the 1980 FIA World Sports Car Championship, where she won with Alain de Cadenet.

Her story, Driven by Desire, was published on the 19th of September, and looks to be an excellent read – a truly unique perspective on a sport we all adore.

Check out the official word below:


The Desiré Wilson Story

by Alan Wilson

Co-Author Andrew Marriott

Forewords by Lord March and Derek Bell

£24.99, Hardback, ISBN: 978-1-845843-89-2

Published 19 September 2011

The Desiré Wilson story is unique one in motorsport; hers is the story of the driver rated by many as the best woman ever to race cars, and the most capable ever to have driven in Formula One. This fascinating story shows that a woman can, and did, fight her way to the top of motorsport.

Her fifty year career started at the age of five in South Africa, then moved to Holland, followed by England and then on to the USA before taking on a new life at the famous Goodwood Revival Historic race events.

During her long career in motorsport Desiré raced more than 135 different types of race car, including Formula One, Indy Car and World Sports cars, at more than 100 race tracks in 11 countries around the world. She is the first and only woman to win a race in a Formula One car (British Formula One Championship in 1980) and scored two overall victories in FIA World Sports Car Championship races at Monza and at Silverstone in 1980.

Always competitive, Desiré earned a reputation for an intense, no-nonsense approach to racing, shrugging off the media glamour to focus on the hard grind of staying competitive in one of the world’s toughest sporting arenas. Throughout those competitive years Desiré always maintained her natural shyness and self-effacing manner, living a full racing life, she balanced parallel careers as a wife and racer while holding multiple jobs to help pay the bills – and to this day she still strives for perfection and success.

For half a century her career has been exciting, tragic, fun, disappointing, challenging and unique, and this book takes you through her amazing life in the sport. It not only describes the specific difficulties she faced as a woman in a man’s sport, but also the trials and difficulties facing so many other brilliant drivers in their quest to make it to Formula One stardom.

The author Alan Wilson has been in the business of motorsport since 1969. He has raced cars and motorcycles, and developed and managed major international race facilities, race series and events. After marrying Desiré in 1975, he and his racing wife moved from South Africa to Holland, and then the UK, where he became a director of the Brands Hatch companies before moving to the USA in 1983. Wilson Motorsport Inc., the track design company Alan and Desiré established together, has developed many different race facilities, including the award winning Miller Motorsports Park. Alan has been Des’ partner in her racing and her life for over 35 years.

Driven by Desire Desire Wilson


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