Before Janet Guthrie, Paula Murphy, and Shirley Muldowney, Diana Carter entered what was at the time a man’s world.
And she succeeded.
Like other early women racers, Carter not only competed on the track in a male-oriented environment, she experienced prejudice and small-minded attitudes off the track.
Throughout the 1960s Carter proved to the racing world she could compete, and win, in road racing and major rally events. From her Toronto base, she earned her successful reputation as a racer in the Shell 4000 Cross-Canada Rally with her Volvo, winning three consecutive Coupe des Dames from 1963 to 1965 in what has been considered the toughest rally in North America.
At a time when women competed in female-only events on road circuits in their husbands’ or boyfriends’ race cars, Carter teamed with Jerry Polivka in establishing her racing credentials along working with Polivka with the Canadian enthusiast magazine Track and Traffic. In 1963 she won the sedan championship and a three-hour endurance event at Mosport driving a Mini-Cooper with Shirley Bowes. She also competed in road events in a Lotus 9, a Studebaker Hawk, and her own personal race car, a Sunbeam Alpine, while competing in the Shell 4000 rallies.
Driving a Volvo 122 she won the CDRA Touring Class championship in 1963, the first woman to do so. She also raced in the Bahamas Speed Week in Nassau in 1966, winning that event over other pioneering women drivers such as Guthrie and Denise McCluggage.
Carter retired from racing in 1967, and took an advertising position with the new owners of Mosport. She also filed racing stories for major Canadian newspapers at this time. After leaving Track and Traffic, Carter went to work as public relations director for the Michigan and Texas International Speedways in 1968, then after three years went into advertising work in Detroit. In 1976 she left the business world, living in Wyoming and Oregon before returning to Canadian soil, ending up on Vancouver Island.
Due to her success in racing, Carter was able to help promote the sport through the mainstream media, and her reputation evolved as a successful competitor who raced because she enjoyed the sport.
She also helped to break down the barriers for women in the sport, helping to open doors for future generations of women racers.
Please welcome Diana Carter into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame.