08 December 2010

Helle Nice Ceremony now on YouTube

Thanks to a heroic effort by Bruno Perrin, there is now a video montage from the ceremony held on Sept 4, 2010 to honor the marking of the final resting place of Helle, as well as the speeches given by Annie Soisbault, Robert Delangle, Miranda Seymour, myself, and other dignitaries. Please take the time to visit YouTube and see these, and let your friends know they are there as well.

This first video is the montage from the ceremony:

The rest are the speeches given to honor Helle Nice.

This first speech is from retired Triumph Works and rally driver, Annie Soisbault, who was the guest of honor at the ceremony, and represented women race drivers worldwide.

Helle Nice's only living relative to have seen her in person is Robert Delangle. He was a third cousin of Helle Nice. He gave a very moving speech http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbU20riZ3k8 recalling a time he remembers Helle coming to his family farm when he was a boy. He also speaks with much emotion about his famous relative. The Delangle family was well represented that day with over 20 relatives attending from several countries. The English translation of his speech appears in a previous blog.

Miranda Seymour, author of "The Bugatti Queen", gave a tribute to Helle in French as well. There is a translation in the works that will be posted here as soon as it is completed. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fsj17Id-jxs

My speech focused on how I brought the Foundation to this point. I am so honored to have been a part of this.After the ceremony, I was lucky enough to have been given a ride in a Bugatti T35, brought by a member of the Bugatti Club of France, the same model as the one Helle drove on that very cold day in December of 1929 at Montlhery to become the "Fastest Woman in the World." I did not break that record on the day I was given the ride, but it sure felt like it. That day, I was the luckiest woman in the world! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-YUsyDCm58

22 September 2010

Justine's Update





September 19, 2010

From VIRginia International Raceway to New Jersey Motorsports Park, Miller Motorsports Park, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Autobahn Country Club and most recently Road America, the Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup Series has been all over the United States, racing on some of the most historic tracks. On September 24, they will go one step further. For the first time in its three year history the final two races will take place in Mexico!

Justine Jackson, driver of the # 40 Project Podium, Jetcon Corporation and Helle Nice Foundation sponsored Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup car will be racing at the Autodromo Miguel E. Abed race track, a two mile “roval” or part oval, part road course in front of thousands of Mexican race fans. This will signify Justine’s completion of her first season in cars as well her first season competing outside of her home, Jamaica and her first season racing at the national level in the United States.

Justine had this to say:

“I can’t believe the season is almost over, but I can’t wait to get back in my TDI Cup car and of all places Mexico! It’s so great that Volkswagen has given us the opportunity to race outside of the US which will enable us to meet more persons within the Motorsports Industry and to experience a different culture of racing. I’m really looking forward to racing in Mexico and it should be interesting to see how everything pans out as this is a new track to everyone and a much different track than the ones we have raced on this season. I’ve been working really hard to prepare for these final two races and my goals are to continue to learn, because you never stop learning and to have a solid weekend and finish the year on a high note. A huge thank you to my sponsorsProject Podium, Jetcon Corporation and the awesome support of the Helle Nice Foundation. I also would not be racing if it wasn’t for my Personal Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ who has been with me always, and especially through all the ups and downs this season.”


Photo credit: Bruce Lancaster/Racer Art Photographic

13 September 2010

Speeches from the Hellé Nice Celebration

Annie Soisbault, French rally champion, Sheryl and Robert Delangle,3rd cousin of Hellé Nice

She was hard to deny in life, and her spirit is just as hard to deny in death. How else can you explain the draw this woman has, who was defamed over 60 years ago, and buried in a way that assured she would be forgotten, only to find that 26 years later there is a ceremony to celebrate her life and achievements, and to acknowledge her life publicly so that she will never be forgotten again?

Today ends the first, and possibly most important chapter in my part of the story of how Hellé Nice found me –

Several years ago, I found a hardcover book on a sale table. The now famous photograph of a smiling woman atop a race car was intriguing. I turned it over and read the reviews... interesting, I thought. Five dollars? What have I got to lose? Little did I know how much I had to gain when I picked up that book!

As I read the words, I was captured, thrilled, saddened, and ultimately angry. I could not understand how this could happen to a woman so bold and strong!

The last paragraph of “The Bugatti Queen “ reads - “My wish, above all, is that her extraordinary life should not be forgotten. A heroine who rose from obscurity, and who now lies in an unmarked grave, deserves to be honored and recalled as she was once described, as a champion of the world”. These heartfelt words by Miranda Seymour were read by many. Most readers agreed with Miranda, saying “yes, she’s right; Hellé Nice should not be forgotten.”

Hellé Nice made sure I understood those words that so touched my heart and they became my call to action. The actions that have followed up to this point have been serendipitous, a path planned all along for me to walk.

As I put the book down, I went to my computer, and Googled Miranda Seymour. I sent her an email to tell her how much I had enjoyed the book. In my first email to Miranda on March 16, 2008, I began by saying how fortunate I was to be reading the book and that I echo her sentiment in the introduction that “I shall miss her”. I also asked in that email if she knew if there was a foundation in Hellé’s honor. I was not really expecting a reply, even though I asked her that night to “please return email”. How bold that was! Miranda replied the next day to that email, and in October of that year, 5 years after “The Bugatti Queen “ was published, I met Miranda in London face to face…I will add at this point that she was still not sure of my intentions, but met me anyway…. I had promised Hellé – “NO” was not an option. No matter what she thought, Miranda continued to send me names of those to contact to help….

Every instance of contact with people has met with no resistance. I have done internet radio interviews, interviews in print, and sent out countless emails to gather support for this project, all met with favorable replies. My friends here in Sainte Mesme have been contacting many more people throughout Europe. There has been a great outpouring of support, as you can see from the attendance here today!

Hellé has provided me with broad based support. There is an artist here in France, Xavier Lavictoire, who donated 3 prints of Hellé Nice he created to auction . Another artist from Portugal did 2 original pieces of art, and sent them as well. Funds continue to be raised to help pay for the marker and ceremony.

I have met some of the most wonderful people imaginable, many of which are here today – Miranda, Dr. Patricia Lee Yongue, who is a supporter, and has given countless hours on the phone to answer all my questions on Hellé Nice and numerous other women racers, Louis Dejean and his wife Elisabeth, Bruno Perrin and his wife Valerie and those involved with the Souvenir Hellé Nice, members of the Delangle family, and Mary Ann Dickinson, from California, who was so moved by the story of Hellé Nice, she became a supporter, and flew in for only a few days to be here at this ceremony, as well as many, many new friends today. These people have helped bring the memory of Hellé Nice back into the open. All here today share a passion for doing what is right, to finally honor this beautiful, talented and courageous woman for her achievements . Achievements she found important to pursue in a man’s world. She stands beside me today as an inspiration, to do what I feel is important and to make every day an adventure!

I thank you for being here, for bringing all these wonderful automobiles and flowers, and for keeping the memory of Hellé Nice alive in your hearts and minds for all these years! It is a fitting tribute and honor to a woman who shall now stand as a heroine and a pioneer in women’s motorsports.
May she here now rest in peace -
Merci beaucoup!

From Patricia Lee Yongue, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of English, University of Houston, USA

President, International Motorsports History Section/Society of Automotive Historians

Mr. Demettre, members of the Delangle family, ladies and gentlemen: I am extremely proud to represent the University of Houston and the International Motorsports History Section of the Society of Automotive Historians at this remarkable event. I thank Mr. Louis De Jean, Mr. Bruno Perrin, and all those who have contributed so much time and energy to its production, and I thank you, the audience, for your acknowledgment of Hellé Nice.

We come together to honor Hellé Nice in death not only by restoring her identity here in Ste Mesme, but also by celebrating her life. We celebrate especially her racing life, which she proudly carried out for the honor of France—and for the sake of adventure. It is appropriate to this celebration, therefore, that I and my colleagues tell the stories of how our lives became entwined with Hellé Nice’s and how she became an adventure for all of us.

As a professor of literature, for whom reading, writing, and talking are the primary motions, I would seem to have no natural connection to the daring young woman who raced Bugattis and Alfas. But it so happens that I found a soul mate in Hellé Nice—for some happy and some sad shared experiences. I started out life as a dancer (but not a cabaret dancer!), and I always loved cars, fast cars. My father loaned me cars, but I never had enough money to race, which is a very expensive sport. I also loved literature, a much less expensive pursuit, and because of the influence of beloved teachers and some family discord, I decided to become a literature professor far away from home.

My doctoral dissertation was a study of the American novelist and francophile, Willa Cather, and my greater literary specialty is Americans in Paris. I kept my enthusiasm for motorsports quiet, for I learned quickly at the University of Houston that fast cars were not appropriate vehicles or interests for lady English professors. Once I got a little older and wiser and braver, however, I began to campaign for a Woman’s Studies program at the university. I determined to reveal and express my passion for auto racing as well. Neither project was at all popular with the university, so I did have to engage in a bit of daring. First, I joined the Society of Automotive Historians and eventually founded the International Motorsports History chapter. In 2000, the Society of Automotive Engineers asked me to present an essay on the history of women in motorsports at the annual SAE World Congress in Detroit, Michigan. At this time, I discovered Parisian Camille du Gast, Czech Elisabeth Junek, and Hellé Nice. I also happily discovered that Mme. Junek and Mlle. Nice fit into the period of literature that I most love, the 1920s and 1930s. But Hellé Nice was the first woman, as far as I could determine, who had to make a living in auto racing without the support of personal wealth such as Elisabeth Junek enjoyed.

Then I discovered Miranda Seymour, whose literary biographies I had already known about. It delighted me that she was writing on Hellé Nice, and I was curious to know how she diverted her interests from literature to racing. After a long exchange of emails, we met finally at a Retromobile, and she began sharing her ideas, her research, and her manuscript with me. When I read the first chapter of Bugatti Queen and learned that the elderly Hellé Nice, after so remarkable career, was left impoverished, abandoned by her family, and forced to give away her beloved cat Minette, I knew I had to make her part of my ongoing study of women as well as of interwar racing.

And then I met Sheryl Greene, who had likewise been inspired by Miranda’s story of Hellé Nice, and so inspired that she established a foundation in the lady’s honor. From the moment I met her, she has been speaking and writing about her plan to create a marker for Hellé Nice’s grave. Now we are all together to witness the fulfillment of that plan, that dream.

Vive la France! Vive l’esprit Hellé Nice!

Speech by Robert Delangle, 4th September, 2010,

for the inauguration of the memorial headstone for Hellé Nice

(née Mariette Delangle), at her tomb in St Mesme, on the outskirts of Paris.

If today I bear witness to our illustrious ancestor, it’s simply because I am the sole member of the family to have known her. The memory I have of Mariette, as she was known to us in the family, is one of a very elegant lady, wearing a lovely floral patterned dress, as was fashionable in the 1940’s, arriving unexpectedly one day at the family farm, accompanied by her sister Solange – I can’t give an exact date, but it must have been at the end of 1942 or early in 1943. I was busy with my school homework when she came into the living room, and I remember, that she touched my cheek as she asked if Marguerite, my mother, was there. Moved by the presence of such a beautiful lady, I ran to the cowshed where my mother was busy milking the cows, and, out of breath, I said “Quick Mummy, come home, Mariette and Solange are here!”.

When my mother came in, she was embarassed by her own workaday appearance in front of those two Parisian ladies in their Sunday best. Mariette exchanged a few pleasantries with her, and then asked if the farmyard hens had been laying well. They must have been, because my mother immediately wrapped up a dozen fresh eggs in newspaper. After an exchange of family news, our two cousins left, and I can tell you that since that impromptu visit by Mariette to the Delangle family home at Levesville-La-Chenard, we had no further news of her.

The reason I was so excited about Mariette’s visit to our home was that I knew that she was a great champion of motor car racing, although I was unaware of the details of her exploits. It has to be said that, in the 30’s and 40’s, in our small village, we received little external news. Television didn’t exist, and we didn’t yet have a radio. The regional newspaper provided the only source of information, but, let’s be honest, this was fairly limited. If we learned of Mariette’s successes, it was thanks to our cousin Pierre Lasne, who one day arrived at our home with an automobile racing magazine in which Mariette appeared at the steering wheel of a racing car. I couldn’t tell you where he found this article, which was absolutely extra-ordinary for us.

What is certain is that our family always had good relations with hers, as I distinctly remember the visits for her mother, Estelle, and above all, those of her sister Solange. Now and then her brother Henri arrived at our house in a sports car similar to those that Mariette drove, indeed perhaps one of her former racing cars.

To summarise now how we re-discovered our illustrious cousin’s history, I must mention that it was our cousin Lucie, present here today, who told me that the Mairie of Aunay-sous-Auneau had information concerning her, information that the mayor of this village, birth place of Mariette, kindly passed on to me, and which included a map which showed a street in the village named in her honour. Following this, Sophie, our “Irish” daughter, with whom I had by sheer chance spoken of Mariette’s story, then worked tenaciously on the subject and found very interesting material via the internet. In fact she became the co-ordinator of the different aspects of the research. Our daughter Caroline also contributed to the research and distribution of related information.

That is what I wanted to say in the name of the entire Delangle family, but now I would like to express our special and heartfelt thanks to Madame Miranda Seymour for the enormous amount of work she carried out, extremely difficult research developed over a very long period of time. I would also like to express our gratitude to Madame Sheryl Greene, instigator of the foundation dedicated to recognising the achievement and honouring the name of Hellé Nice, which was her adopted name as a champion racing car driver. And it’s also thanks to Madame Sheryl Greene that we have the pleasure of participating today in this extraordinary celebration. Thank you, Madame, thanks again.

With the inauguration of this plaque, today represents a magnificent and indisputable recognition of Mariette-Hélène Delangle, Hellé Nice, for all posterity. A thousand thanks, ladies, for everything you have done for the honour and glory of our cousin, the great French champion of automobile racing.

Hellé Nice Marker Ceremony -Sept 4, 2010

Hellé Nice Marker Unveiled at Sainte-Mesme, France
by PETE on SEPTEMBER 8, 2010
Reposted from VELOCE TODAY

(Let me preface this by saying that others have written about this ceremony much better than I. I was so involved, and so close, that I do not yet have words for what has occured. I will post soon with my take on the events of these few days, I promise - Sheryl)

Story and Photos by Mary Ann Dickinson

A small but remarkable achievement…

On Saturday, September 4, 2010, under a beautiful sunny sky in the small village of Sainte-Mesme outside Paris, over 200 people gathered from three different countries to honor and commemorate the life of 1930s Grand Prix race driver Hellé Nice.

It was the culmination of a three year long effort organized by Sheryl Greene, a sports car enthusiast from Atlanta, Georgia.
In 1984, Hellé Nice, a pioneering female race driver, holder of 14 speed records at Montlhéry and 8 world speed records, died in obscurity and extreme poverty and was interred in an unmarked grave. The story of her life, and her descent into undeserved defamation, was researched and documented in the book Bugatti Queen, published in 2004 by author Miranda Seymour.

Documenting her life and finding her final resting place was an enormous undertaking for Miranda. Over her lifetime, the woman born Mariette Hélène Delangle went through various names, making later tracing difficult. To make matters worse, there were even four different villages in France named Sainte-Mesme. But upon finally finding Hellé Nice’s actual grave, Seymour discovered to her surprise that it was unmarked. She was shocked, and in the book she stated that she wished to bring “some kind of justice to one of the boldest and most attractive women of the last century…she deserves to be remembered, and more than that, celebrated.”

Something needed to be done. The effort to correct this oversight was spearheaded by the Hellé Nice Foundation, the organization founded by Greene in 2008. Inspired by Seymour’s book, Greene established the Foundation in part to raise money for the purchase of the missing gravestone or marker for Nice. (read “A Death Forgotten”) The task seemed insurmountable; even French car enthusiasts were heretofore unaware that such a remarkable individual was buried in this tiny French village. (It is worth noting that Bugatti Queen has never been published in France, thus explaining why many French enthusiasts, including Hellé Nice’s remaining family, were unaware of her full story.)
A breakthrough came in January 2010, when Seymour sent an email to Greene that began, “A living relative of Hellé Nice just surfaced …” Suddenly, contact with the family of Hellé Nice seemed feasible. Hopefully they would be interested in Greene’s efforts to provide a permanent marker for Hellé. Greene met with the family members and local historians at the site of the unmarked grave in Sainte-Mesme; the Delangle family as well as local officials all were helpful and very interested in the project. Fundraising began in earnest to create and place a marker on the racer’s grave. Once the marker was ready to be placed, a ceremony would be scheduled which would be open to the family members, Bugatti enthusiasts, locals and the press. Read Friends and Family Pay Homage to Hellé Nice.

In the next few months, the Foundation raised money for the graveside marker from a wide assortment of donors, including the Mullin Automobile Museum, the American Bugatti Club, Alfa Romeo enthusiasts, VeloceToday and anonymous donors. Local officials and historians, especially Louis Dejean and Bruno Perrin, contributed both hundreds of hours as well as local funds to the event. Artists donated artwork for auction. Saturday, September 4th, 2010 was chosen for the formal dedication.

The program for the day included, as expected, moving speeches. Louis Dejean, founder of the local “Association Souvenir Hellé Nice” was master of ceremonies and overall coordinator of the event. Paul Desmettre, Mayor of Sainte-Mesme, welcomed everyone. Seymour spoke in French about the history of discovering Hellé Nice and how she brought the story of this remarkable woman to the world via her book Bugatti Queen.

Dr. Patricia Lee Yongue spoke about Nice's place in the history of motorsports.
Dr. Patricia Yongue discussed Hellé Nice’s place in women’s motorsports history. Sheryl Greene gave a moving tribute to Hellé Nice’s spirit. Annie Soisbault, herself a famous rally driver and racer from the 1950’s, gave a personal tribute. Robert Delangle, grand-nephew of Hellé Nice, presented his personal recollections of his famous aunt.
Warner Dailey was there too. Dailey was the person who, in 1994, found the Helle Nice scrapbook of pictures at a local antique sale in southern France and set the wheels in motion that would eventually result in the book Bugatti Queen.

A special surprise was a video from the first talking newsreel in France, which happened to feature Hellé Nice breaking the women’s speed record at Montlhéry in 1929. It was an eerie experience seeing her face and smile on film, and actually hearing her voice. This early film even featured a camera-mounted lap of the track …arguably one of the first such instances of filming a speed lap with the roar of the engine fully included in the sound track…and this at a time when silent films were still the norm. (Click here to view short film clip from French TV.)

After the dedication speeches, the marker was unveiled at graveside. Flowers were placed by the Hellé Nice Foundation, Les Femmes Pilotes (The French Women’s Drivers Association), the British Women’s Motorsports Association, the Sainte-Mesme townspeople, and the Delangle family.

Clearly this is the beginning of something much bigger. The energy, devotion, and interest generated by this event will not wither; too many people left the event intrigued and enthused. Judging from the many inscriptions written in the Day’s Guest Book, it is clear that the dedication event has now galvanized unforgettable interest in Hellé Nice and the women’s motorsports history she helped create.

11 August 2010

Update from Justine Jackson - VW TDI Series

A Promising Weekend for Justine at Autobahn Country Club

After a five week break, the 2010 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup Series was back in action for Round 6 at the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Illinois. With a tough first half to the season, Justine Jackson driver of the #40 Project Podium, Jetcon Corporation sponsored Jetta was more determined than ever to produce some solid performances in the second half of the season.

The weekend kicked off with Practice 1 early Saturday morning on a wet and drying track, the first wet session of the season. It was a great learning session for Justine as she logged some very important laps for future reference on racing in the wet. “I was a little nervous about going out in the wet for the first time of the season but it was a very valuable practice session. The track was slippery but the TDI cars drive very well in the wet and the brakes very amazing despite the wet track! I definitely learned a lot in my time on track especially regarding tire conservation as the track was drying out really quickly about half way through the session so we all had to be searching for puddles so we didn’t destroy them.”

Qualifying took place much later on in the evening in cool but dry conditions and despite a hard charge by the young driver, Justine would qualify a disappointing 25th after making a few mistakes toward the end of the session which prevented her from improving on her time. “I was really looking forward to a great qualifying session and it started off really well. I felt very good in the car but I made the mistake of pulling into the pits to cool off about twenty minutes into the session as the track was getting faster and faster because of the cool track conditions. As I went back out with less than ten minutes left it took me way too long to get back up to speed and I was able to improve my time by half a second but unfortunately I made a couple mistakes in my last two laps and ruined my chance of improving. But despite the bad outcome it was the best I have felt in the car all year and for that I am very happy.”

With practice and qualifying in the books, it was now time for Race 6 of the 2010 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup Series. After getting a good standing start Justine was quickly up to speed and amazingly in the first two laps of the race she improved on her qualifying time by two and a half seconds after making a small change to her seating position after finding something in her data from qualifying. As she continued to charge, on lap three in turn 1 Justine pushed a bit too hard, entering the turn hopping, she hit a bump and lost the car hitting the inside tire barrier. As she drove off in hopes of finishing the race she spun going into turn 3 as the left rear tire rolled of the rim. She then decided to pull off track to reduce the chances of incurring any more damage or inhibiting another driver. “Another bad end to the weekend again but this weekend was different in a good way. In qualifying and the few laps I completed in the race I felt pretty good in the car and I feel like I am finally starting to understand and apply how these TDI Cup cars need to be driven. For sure this is even more motivation for me to keep working and praying hard and I can’t wait until Road America in a few weeks. A huge thank you to my sponsors Project Podium, Jetcon Corporation and the awesome support of the Helle Nice Foundation and I definitely would not be here without my Heavenly Father who has kept me believing throughout this challenging season.”

Justine will be racing next at Road America on August 20-22 in Rounds 7 & 8 of the 2010 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup Series

22 July 2010

The Hellé Nice Celebratory Ceremony

French Female Racecar Driver Hellé Nice to be honored at Gravesite after Twenty Six Years “Foundation Will Position Grave Marker during September Ceremony in Ste-Mesme France”

ATLANTA, GA (July 21, 2010)-The Hellé Nice Foundation has announced a ceremony to be held in Ste-Mesme, France on September 4, 2010 honoring French female racecar driver Hellé Nice. “For 26 years, Hellé has rested in an unmarked grave and our foundation’s first project has been to raise funds and place a marker on her grave”, shares Sheryl Greene, founder of The Hellé Nice Foundation. A Service of Commemoration will be held at the Ste-Mesme church and in the adjoining cemetery where the marker will be placed. Speakers include Miranda Seymour, author of the Hellé Nice biography “The Bugatti Queen”, Dr. Patricia Lee Yongue, motorsports historian and Associate Professor of English at the University of Houston, and Sheryl Greene, originator and founder of The Hellé Nice Foundation.
“Upon reading Ms. Seymour’s biography of Hellé Nice, I was enthralled with her race history and perseverance and amazed no one had publicly celebrated her life and accomplishments. I decided at that moment to start the foundation with a goal of properly honoring her”, says Greene. Additional ceremony guests include Annie Soisbault, Triumph Works driver, famous for her performances in rallies and on the track racing legendary race cars of the 50’s and 60’s and Jean-Pierre Beltoise, the driver who restored hope to French motor sport and winner of the 1972 Monaco GP. Several surviving members of Hellé’s family will also be present to speak on this special occasion.
Club Bugatti France will exhibit several examples of Bugatti motorcars Hellé Nice drove on the track, as well as on the road. Those attending are invited to bring their own classic and vintage cars along with flowers to place on the grave. “We invite lovers and devotees of the car in general, and of motor sport in particular, to join us in restoring the memory of one of automobile history’s great women racers”, notes Sheryl Greene. The ceremony begins at the church in Ste-Mesme located at Chemin de l'Eglise, 78739 Sainte-Mesme, France, on September 04, 2010 at 11:00AM (Paris time)

Media Contact:
Cindy Meitle
480 277-1864

USA Contact: Sheryl Greene

European Contact:
Bruno Perrin
011 33 01 30 59 42 39

About The Hellé Nice Foundation Dedicated to Celebrating the World’s Fastest Women, The Hellé Nice Foundation was established in 2008 to fund the creation and placement of a bronze plaque marking the grave of Nice, a French auto racing legend and pioneer of women making a career in professional motorsports. She ran over 100 races, set a female speed record in 1929 and set closed course endurance records that still stand. In 1930, she made an unprecedented 18-event tour of American race tracks. Piloting primarily cars from Bugatti and Alfa, Nice brought excitement and celebrity to women’s participation in motorsports, increasing crowds wherever she raced. Nice died in 1984, largely forgotten and buried in the family crypt in Ste-Mesme, France with no marking to indicate her final resting place. As funds are generated, the foundation will also serve to assist young women interested in pursuing a career in racing, through grants and direct support. To learn more or to donate, please email www.hellenicefoundation@gmail.com

23 June 2010

Press Release # 2 (French)

Siège Social : 9 rue du Buisson
78730 Sainte Mesme

Contact presse généraliste : Henri Kahan
T. 09 63 25 60 48

Contact presse automobile : Bruno Perrin
T. 01 30 59 42 39

Commémoration du 4 Septembre 2010
A la Mémoire d'Hélène DELANGLE, alias HELLÉ NICE
Communiqué n°2 – Le 20 Juin 2010

Nous avons le plaisir d’annoncer la participation des personnalités suivantes :

 Annie Soisbault, célèbre pour ses performances en rallye et sur circuit au volant des voitures les plus mythiques des années 60 : Triumph TR3, Ferrari 250 GTO et 250 LM, Porsche 904, 906, 910…
 Jean-Pierre Beltoise, le pilote qui a redonné l’espoir au sport automobile français, vainqueur du Grand Prix de Monaco 1972, aujourd’hui militant de « la bonne conduite citoyenne » et initiateur du Circuit de Haute Saintonge.
 Miranda Seymour, auteur du best-seller « Bugatti Queen », une biographie de Hellé Nice en langue anglaise.
 Dr Patricia Lee Yongue, historienne de l’automobile, professeur de littérature à l’University of Houston.
 Sheryl Greene, fondatrice de la Hellé Nice Foundation dont l’objectif est de venir en aide aux femmes désirant pratiquer le sport automobile, et qui est à l’origine de la cérémonie.

Des représentants de la famille de Hellé Nice seront également présents.
Quelques célèbres voitures de course seront exposées dans le cadre de cette commémoration, dont des Bugatti. Le Club Bugatti sera représenté. Nous attendons confirmation de la participation du club Alfa Romeo, ainsi que du Club Obsolete Ford France, représentant la marque Matford. Nous espérons également la présence de représentants de la Fédération Française du Sport Automobile, de la Fédération Française des Véhicules d’Epoque, de l’Automobile Club de France et de l’Automobile Club de l’Ouest, ainsi que du Secrétariat d’Etat aux Sports et des institutions locales.

La cérémonie aura lieu sur la place de l’église de Sainte Mesme et dans le cimetière adjacent. Le stationnement dans l’allée arborée menant à la place de l’église sera réservé aux véhicules anciens des visiteurs.

Le planning prévisionnel de la cérémonie est le suivant :
11 :00 à 12 :00 Discours des officiels, chorale et orchestre de cuivres
12 :00 Dévoilement de la plaque par Annie SOISBAULT et Sheryl GREENE en présence de Jean-Pierre BELTOISE
12 :15 à 13 :30 Réception – Buffet – Interviews

Nous invitons l’ensemble des amatrices et amateurs de l’automobile en général, et du sport automobile en particulier, à se joindre à nous pour achever la réhabilitation de la mémoire d’une des plus grandes femmes pilotes de l’histoire de l’automobile.

Accueil presse : Contacter Bruno Perrin au 01 30 59 42 39
ou bruno.perrin3@wanadoo.fr

Press Release # 1 for the Ceremony (French)

These are the first 2 releases to the press regarding the Helle Nice Commemorative Ceremony on September 4, 2010. I will release them again in English later on in the week -

Siège Social : 9 rue du Buisson
78730 Sainte Mesme

Contact presse généraliste : Henri Kahan
T. 09 63 25 60 48

Contact presse automobile : Bruno Perrin
T. 01 30 59 42 39

Commémoration du 4 Septembre 2010
Communiqué n°1 – Le 1er Juin 2010

A la Mémoire d'Hélène DELANGLE, alias HELLÉ NICE
Une de nos meilleures championnes du sport automobile, couverte de victoires et de records, pilote-fétiche de Bugatti, Hélène Delangle, alias HELLÉ NICE, modèle d'audace, de volonté et de courage, connut pendant la décennie 1929/1939 une célébrité sans égale.

Née avec le siècle, elle commença une belle carrière dans la danse et le music-hall avant - à la suite d'une blessure au genou - se reconvertir dans la course automobile, milieu dans lequel elle avait déjà de solides relations.
Elle se révéla très vite être une des meilleures pilotes de son temps, n'hésitant pas à affronter ses plus valeureux rivaux masculins. Elle représenta souvent la France à l'étranger, notamment aux USA et au Brésil, suscitant partout admiration et enthousiasme.

Sa dextérité au volant, son intrépidité, sa beauté et son sens aigu de la communication en firent une des personnalités les plus populaires de l'avant-guerre.
Mais à la suite d'accusations calomnieuses (les règlements de compte de cette nature n'étaient pas rare à la libération) elle fut écartée de la compétition.
Commença alors pour Hélène Delangle une lente et cruelle descente aux enfers. Ruinée, elle survécut grâce à la générosité de "La Roue Tourne", association de bienfaisance des artistes du music-hall. Elle mourut en octobre 1984 à Nice dans la misère, la solitude et l'oubli. Elle est enterrée dans le cimetière communal de Sainte Mesme où la tombe familiale, à la suite de dissensions internes, ne porte même pas son nom.

C'est grâce à la publication du livre de Miranda Seymour "BUGATTI QUEEN" et à l'initiative d'admiratrices américaines comme Sheryl Greene, que son souvenir sera arraché à l'intolérable oubli dans lequel il risquait de sombrer.

Le 4 septembre prochain, une plaque commémorative relatant ses principaux exploits sera apposée auprès de sa tombe.

À cette occasion, Miranda Seymour, Sheryl Greene, Patricia Yongue et des représentantes éminentes du sport automobile français seront présents pour honorer la mémoire d'HELLÉ NICE. Nous vous invitons à vous joindre à eux.

Pour tout complément d'information, s'adresser à :
9 rue du Buisson, 78780 Sainte-Mesme.
ou à "louis.dejean91@orange.fr"
ou à "henryk.kahan@wanadoo.fr"
ou à "bruno.perrin3@wanadoo.fr"

The Auction is Over

Well, the eBay auction has come to a close. Only 2 prints were sold. Those were 2 of the Xavier Lavictoire prints of Helle on the beach at La Baule. They both brought $250.00 each, so it pushes us toward the goal! One additional print of Lavictoire's still remains unsold, as do BOTH original prints by F. Miguel Alves. Those must be meant for another time. I also have 4 personalized copies of "The Bugatti Queen" by Miranda Seymour availiable. Contact me about any of these items, as all are still for sale for a great cause!

15 June 2010

Let No Doubt Into Your Dreams and Intentions

The Foundation has 9 items up for bid on Ebay. Five pieces have been there for 10 days, and the last day is starting. There have been no bids. These are five incredible pieces of art. Two are ORIGINAL pieces done with a layman's caring and passionate hand, who wanted to give something back to help the cause, because life was not fair to Hellé Nice. Three additional pieces are limited edition prints, made from an original piece illustrating a moment in time, captured, from a race on the beach at La Baule. It is by an artist who found inspiration in the grace and style of the Bugatti, as well as the grace and style of it's owner. All these pieces are fine examples of the emotion that Hellé Nice still creates in those who come to know her. She's been gone now 26 years, forgotten for over 60, yet she continues to be the subject of artwork! What an enduring personality, and the very reason I founded the Hellé Nice Foundation.

As I sit here tonight, I am distracted and I am concerned. A good portion of the cost of the grave marker rests in getting good prices for these donated pieces. The work order for the marker has been signed off on, the ceremony date is set, the VIPs are being gathered to come to speak in her honor. I am doing all I can. I have to let Hellé's spirit do the rest. She has guided this process from the beginning, since I read Miranda Seymour's book, "The Bugatti Queen", and possibly coerced Miranda was when she was asked to write the book. Hellé was that kind of woman when alive, and she worked very hard at creating Hellé Nice out of Helene Mariette Delangle. I know she is working just as hard from the other side to push this project forward.

I share this with you tonight because I have to. I take every opportunity to spread the word about this foundation as I can. This is what I have been called to do, to identify the resting place of a champion, a dedicated racer, a woman who blazed trails during her time. She will be happy with this - but it's not over when the marker is in place.

After the echoes of song have left the walls of the cemetery, the last flowers have been piled high, the last celebrant has closed the gate, and the last Bugatti has left the grounds, the real work begins. Because I have made a pledge and given my word, Hellé and I will continue to honor those women pioneers of motorsports, the famous and the forgotten,who paved the way for the young girls and women out on the tracks throughout the world today. I will bring them the history of their fore bearers, and I will support them in their efforts to "excel and accelerate", to go beyond their wildest dreams and without limitations!

I challenge you all to join me in this endeavor, to become donors and supporters of the Hellé Nice Foundation. It will be a ride you will not forget!

I have to retire for the evening, and I have to trust that at just about this time tomorrow night there will be winning bids beyond my wildest dreams for those items on eBay, to propel the Foundation on to the next milestone. I will post tomorrow night with the results.

28 April 2010

Ready to Rumble!

You may not know her yet, but you soon will! Let me introduce you to Justine Jackson, one of this years VW TDI CUP drivers. She's 19, fresh up from karting, and ready to rumble! She won her place in the TDI Cup Series, and garnered a grant from Lyn St. James' Project Podium, to help offset the cost of racing!

Justine contacted me in January after reading an article about Helle Nice on the ESPN F1 racing site. The message was very timely, as I had just returned from Helle's village of Ste.-Mesme, outside of Paris, that afternoon, having spent most of the day there making plans for the ceremony to place the marker on Helle's grave. Little did I know, Justine would become such an important "spoke in the wheel" . She did not hesitate when I asked her to place the Foundation logo on her car.

I am going to wish her much good luck, quick reflexes, and smart decisions in her upcoming race in New Jersey this weekend, and leave it at that point from me. I am putting Justines press release regarding her first 2 races below. Kevin York, of York Motorsport Group, said in an email to me today that he is " impressed that she has an apparently genuine ability to take what she experienced during that weekend and spin it positively", and that she does. She has processed her performance, and is happy with it as a beginning. Please let her know you support her in her efforts. It's very important at this time in her career. She may not feel it, but she is courageous, determined, and inspiring, both to those of us who never tried racing, and already to those who are looking up to her as a role model, both in her native Jamaica, and those watching her here! Helle would be proud!
The following is Justine's official press -


The 2010 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup Series kicked off its season with its two opening rounds at the VIRginia International Raceway on April 23-25. Justine Jackson, rookie driver in the #40 Project Podium sponsored car had a great weekend finishing 21st and 19th in Races 1 and 2 respectively. But it wasn’t the results that made her weekend a great one.

The 2010 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup Series marked the first time that Justine would race in a car having had 6 & ½ years of Karting experience. It all began on Thursday when Justine and her dad, Andrew arrived at the track early to get properly seated in her car and later on a track walk with driving instructors Jan Heylen, Andy Lee, Ryan Arciero and Mark Miller with on track action starting at 8 am Friday morning. In practice 1 Justine ended the session 14 seconds off of the pace but with further analysis of her data with the driving instructors and more seat time, by the end of race 2 Justine was 2.5 seconds off of the fastest lap of the race!

Race 1 was a good race for Justine. Despite running around the back, she was able to show why she loves to race and why she’s in this series having fought back and forth with guest driver Tony Swan and huge race veteran. Race 2 was a bit of a disappointment. Justine got off to a great start and picked up 2 places going into turn 1 but was unintentionally tapped on the rear bumper and spun. Returning to the track she spun again, forgetting that her tires had dirt on them. She would lose 23 seconds to those ahead. Despite a bad first lap Justine kept her head down and fought her way back up, making up those 23 seconds finishing a respectable 19th place.

Justine had this to say:

“What a great weekend! Despite some disappointing results I had so much fun this weekend, the most I’ve had racing in a long time. My goal for the weekend was to get comfortable in the car and to gain as much seat time as possible and that’s exactly what I did. And it showed in my improvement in my lap times and confidence on track. It was so awesome getting to work with all the other drivers and the driving instructors who were so willing to help out! This race weekend was not only my first race in a car but my first race in the United States along with several other series. I was especially excited to see the Rolex Sports Car Series. I learnt so much throughout the weekend and there are so many great people involved in the series and I feel so blessed to be apart of it! A big thank you to my sponsors Project Podium and its partners, Jetcon Corporation, and the wonderful support of the Helle Nice Foundation. I could never have done this without my Heavenly Father and I’m so grateful for such a great opportunity. I’m really looking forward to Round 3 at The New Jersey Motorsports Park and I can’t wait to get on track and continue to learn more and move up in the pack!”

Justine Jackson

22 February 2010

First Days in the City of Light

Well, here I am in Paris! Retromobile starts on Friday, so these first days are just tourist things, not car related at all.

Let me state here for the record, that I love Paris as much as I love cars! So the following is my tourist take on the city before the car show.

I have noticed since I was here last that the streets are filled with Smart Cars! They are very popular in London, but I had no idea how "big" they are here! I stood and watched in amazement as a guy parked one in a spot I could not have put a bicycle in! Speaking of bicycles, the traffic is brutal, and there are some very brave (?) souls who ride bicycles in between cars in rush hour. You decide - I suppose it can't be much worse than just trying to cross the street here sometimes, though. I am set up to broadcast "live" via Skype from the show back to
Track Chic Live , good Lord willing - but as you know, as good as the internet is, there are still inherent problems on both sides to make the connections. Stay tuned, and I will keep updates posted. I went wandering today, I think I walked about a million miles. From the Museé Orsay up through the Tuileries to the Champs Elysees, to the Arc de Triumph, and back down. I had heard good things about the Museé Orsay. It is written up to be the second most important museum in Paris. It's true claim to fame is the building. It is housed in a restored train station, with it's massive working clock housed at one end of this beautiful barrel roofed structure. There are the usual occupants, Manet, Monet, a prized Renoir, Degas, Van Gogh (minor works), Toulouse-Latrec, Cezanne, and a great many sculptures by artists not known to me. Interesting , though,is the exhibit of the incredible scaled models of the Opera Garnier and set designs for shows performed there, and the model of the Opera housed beneath your feet under plexiglass. My first choice is still the Louvre. Make the Orsay a distant second.
Late afternoon, my wanderings took me to the top of
Notre Dame for an incredible visit with the gargoyles and to see Quasimoto's bell. The only thing missing up there was a great bottle of champagne! It's a fabulous way to see the city, but the climb is not for the short of breath, and the walk back down all those tiny, narrow steps is not for the weak kneed - but very worth it! Go up as late as they will let you. I was able to stay until about 4:45 pm to get some great photos of the sun beginning to set with the lights in Paris below just beginning to flicker on. Please forgive my tourist ramblings. There isn't much going on in the car world on these first few days, so enjoy the tourist tips!
Oh, and I take photos. I take photos to document my trips. I take lots of photos to get a few good shots. Check out a few good shots at my Flickr page -
www.flickr.com/photos/sgreene . Check back, as more are uploaded often.


The Hellé Nice Foundation, Inc.
Email: hellenicefoundation@gmail.com

"Excel and Accelerate"

21 January 2010

Paris in 6

I have arrived in Paris for 6 days for Retromobile! My flight was uneventful, as they should be, and my first day on Wednesday was dedicated to s-l-e-e-p. The 6 hour difference is not so bad, but I think rolled in with the frustration and excitement of getting here just wears me out. It was rainy and cold when I came in, and coupled with no sleep overnight on the flight, I was toast! Dozed in the lobby of my hotel while I waited on the room to be ready, made it through a nice warm bath and crashed until late afternoon. Finally got motivated to dress and get out before the sun went down. It doesn't get daylight good until 9:00 am this time of year, and it's dark by 6:00 pm. The city is well lit and safe after dark, and photo ops abound, so off I went! I saw the Eiffel Tower last night! Now, you can see it in books, you can see it on television, but to come face to face with this incredible bohemoth is a sight. I had no idea just how large it is! It was truly awesome! I have never felt as dwarfed by a manmade structure. Beautifully lit, it is a monument to engineering. Please resist the temptation to buy a glowing pink or blue replica to take home. The guys selling these are, fortunately, not voracious, just numerous.
There's something about Paris. It has a style and a culture we have no way of emulating. Parisians, as well as most Europeans I have found, revel in the antiquity of their countries. America is too caught up in the new, the shiny, the big. The streets I walk today here are built on Roman carriage ways (probably dinosaur trails previous to that). More than 40 years ago, some old houses were being torn down in front of Notre Dame to give the public a better view and to build a parking deck (sound familiar?), well, in the excavation, they uncovered these ancient streets! The parking deck was not build, and the streets have been excavated out so that you can see them in the Crypt at Notre Dame. Similar sites have been uncovered at the Louvre as well. These are fascinating.
Hellé walked these streets, she drove through these streets, danced here as well. I wonder which cafes gained her favor? Did she stroll along the Seine arm in arm? Did she walk the same places I did today, looking in shop windows at Guerlain and Chanel and Dior? She had the money to shop there, I do not. What was the name of her yacht? Where did she moor it? Did she captain it or hire someone? Where did they sail? Did she and Marcel and Courc race through these streets in the early hours of the morning, up the Champs-Elysees, around the Arc de Triumph?
I hope she will be pleased, I am taking her roses on Monday -
jusqu' à demain,


12 January 2010

Off to Retromobile

Well, next week is the big trip to Paris for Retromobile. It's a vintage and classic car show and auction, celebrating it's 35th year. This year's theme is the history of the automobile, which promises some incredible antique vehicles. Featured marques are Mercedes, highlighting the "Gullwing", Mazda's 90th birthday, 200 years of Peugot, 100 years of Alfa, and the always present Citroen. I have meetings set up with rally people, Bugatti folks, and anyone else who will listen! I am also travelling by train to Ste-Mesme, Hellés hometown, to meet with some good people there, and to see firsthand where Hellé is buried.
I've been working on lots of things leading up to the trip. I have had the business cards reprinted in a better shade of blue, much closer this time to "Bugatti" blue. I've also had "Hellé Nice Project" postcards printed, detailing why I'm raising funds., as well as designing additional promotional pieces to give away or sell on the website later in the year.
Theresa Earnheart is interviewing me tomorrow on TrackChic Live for a program to be broadcast later in the week on racefanradio.com , and I'm going to be able to do a segment from Retromobile as well, thanks to the miracles of modern technology.
I want to thank my friend, Pat Yongue, for the gift of two of the most wonderful books to start my Women's History of Motorsports collection - "Fast Ladies, Female Racing Drivers, 1888-1970" by Jean Francois Bouzanquet, full of incredible photos and lots of inspiring information, and Rally Cup Winner, Genevieve "Genny" Obert's ,"Prince Borghese's Trail", the documenting her trip on the great Paris to Peking Rally in 1997 . I am saving this tome for the plane trip next week.
One of my goals in keeping this blog is to educate the reader about the history of women in motorsports, as well as the characters and the roles they played in shaping the future for those who came later. I will highlight the women drivers, with mini biographies, and give history as I see it both from a womans perspective and as I see how women have and are affecting the sport today. Bear with me -