Part of our Women in Motorsport series by guest writer Lara Platman
High upon the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, a sandstorm blinded many of the drivers who were on the 1937 Morocco Rally.
Mrs Marguerite Mareuse and Anne Cecile Itier were racing in a Cabriolet for the Hanomag team, unaware that this German team were also conducting an intelligence mission for the Abwehr, analysing the French Military forces in Morocco. Itier and her co-pilot were stuck amongst the dunes. Fellow Hanomag teammate Hushcke Von Hanstein hopped into the Cabriolet and drove Itier down the mountain, whilst his co-pilot drove Mrs Mareuse. Just short of the check point at the bottom, the drivers all swapped back to their allocated cars and no points were dismissed.
With this intriguing rally in mind, for this instalment of the Women in Motorsport series I would like to introduce you to Anne-Cécile Itier.
Born in 1890, in Pomeys, near Lyons, France, this determined redhead married and subsequently divorced a Scotsman. Anne made the most of her divorce settlement by moving into a fashionable apartment on the Jardin des Tuilleries in Paris. She also purchased a house just south of Bordeaux which she called ‘le Volant’ (The steering wheel), and a Supercharged 4-cylinder Bugatti Type 37A.
Anne started out as a pilot, then in 1926 at the age of thirty-one she moved to motor racing. She started with hill climbs and rallies, winning the La Mothe-Sainte-Heraye hill climb outright on her first attempt, an achievement she would repeat in 1928 and 1932. In 1929, in her Bugatti Type 37A, she came second in the June Montrepos Hill Climb, raced at the Grand Prix Féminin at Montlhéry, and entered the Grand Prix race in Bordeaux for small cars in a 500cc Sima Violet.
Over the next seven years, Anne raced her Bugatti against the best racing drivers such as Raymond Sommer, Robert Benoist, and Hellé Nice. She competed five times at Le Mans between 1934 and 1939.
1931 was a good year in racing for Anne in her Bugatti Type 37A; in March, she was seventh in the Tunisia GP, and in August she was fourth at the Circuit du Dauphine. For 1932 Anne although finishing thirteenth for the Tunisian Grand Prix, she received her first win at the Trophee de Provence in Nimes.
In May now switching to a Bugatti Type 51A, 1933 Anne came first once again for the Grand Prix de Picardie in May and fourth in the Grand Prix d’Albi in the August. By 1934 a podium third place at the Grand Prix in Picardie along with eight place in for the ADAC Eifelrennen cars in June, followed by ninth in the Berne Grand Prix. Amongst the mid-grid and non-finishes, Anne and her Type 51A was a force amongst the field. In the summer of 1934, Anne raced for the first time at Le Mans circuit with Charles Duruy in a MG Midget PA, finishing in twelfth place.