historicracing
Anne-Cecile Rose-Itier
© Speed Queens
FRANCE

Born
? / ? / 1895
Died
? / ? / ?

In a career spanning over twenty-five years, "Madame Itier" proved a lot of people wrong. After successfully leaving a bad marriage she began racing in 1926. Her first event was the Paris-Pau road race, driving a Brasier. For the rest of the Twenties she concentrated mainly on rallying and hillclimbs. She won the La Mothe-Sainte-Heraye hillclimb outright in 1928, an achievement she would repeat in 1932. 1928 also saw her on track for the Grand Prix Feminin at Montlhery, a prestigious ladies' race.

At the turn of the decade she came back to the circuits and competed in Cyclecar races, the smallest major racing class. These tiny vehicles were quick and the races were dangerous and very competitive. Anne-Cecile equipped herself with a Rally SCAP, in which she scored some good results. She was fifth in the Bordeaux Grand Prix in 1929 and third in the Oranie GP the following year.

Between 1931 and 1936, Madame Itier made a name for herself racing Bugattis, mainly in the smaller Voiturette class. At first she was disparagingly referred to as a "mobile chicane" by her peers, but she soon had them eating their words. In her first year in the Bugatti T37 she was seventh in the Tunisia GP, fourth at the Circuit du Dauphine and third at the Marne GP. The following year, she earnt her first win in the Trophee de Provence, improved her Tunisia finishing record to fifth and came fourth at Casablanca.

She kept up her winning ways in 1933 with a victory in the Picardie GP, still in the T37. She was also fourth at France's Albi track and fifth in the Lemburg GP in Poland.

A switch to a Bugatti T51 brought mixed fortunes in 1934. Anne-Cecile won the Phare hillclimb outright and was third in the Picardie GP, but only managed eighth in the Eifelrennen at the Nurburgring and ninth in the Swiss Berne GP, although these were big races and she was nowhere near the back. For the following year she raced a Fiat Balilla as well, mainly in sportscar events. She failed to finish the Marne GP but came eighteenth on her second outing at Le Mans, driving alongside Robert Jacob.

Madame Itier was a fixture at Le Mans from 1934 to 1938. Her first race was in an MG Midget P; she and Charles Duruy were seventeeth. In 1937 she made history by racing the first fully-closed GT car at the legendary track, the futuristic-looking Adler Trumpf. It proved a little too ahead of its time and failed to finish. Her best finish was twelfth in 1938, driving an MG Midget Special with Bonneau.

Towards the end of the decade, she moved back to rallying, although good results in sportscars still came her way. She and Germaine Rouault were third in the Paris 12 Hours in 1938, driving a Delahaye. Anne-Cecile sometimes co-drove for Kay Petre in her Austin and often rallied with German driver Huschke von Hanstein. The pair met when Madame Itier was lost in the dust on the Moroccan rally and von Hanstein rescued her. It was in his Hanomag Diesel that she finished her last pre-war event, the 1939 Monte Carlo rally.

During the war, she showed as much strength and bravery as she did on the track, helping to evacuate children from occupied France. When peace returned to Europe, her hunger for competition was undiminished. After a couple of unsuccessful sportscar outings in the aging Fiat Balilla she turned full-time to rallying in a Renault 4CV. For her first event, the 1948 Monte Carlo Rally, she was co-driven by fellow Thirties race starlet Madame Helle-Nice. They crashed out. Anne-Cecile was undeterred and returned to the Alpes Maritimes every year until 1953, when she hung up her helmet for good aged fifty-eight.

That was not the end for Madame Itier. She was involved in French motorsport administration until the Sixties, mainly with the association for independent drivers which she and Jean Delorme formed in 1935.

© Speed Queens