Ada Pace


Record updated

Italian rally and touring car driver of the 50s and 60s. Drove in the Targa Florio several times and was a top ten finisher in touring car races.

Ada Pace
Ada Pace was better known as Sayonara. Born in Turin, Italy, she raced mainly in the 1950s and 1960s.

The daughter of a Turin craftsman, her early sporting interests were basketball, athletics and target shooting.

Her interest in racing started in 1947 when she took part in one make motor scooter races organised by the Vespa Club. She continued to race scooters over the next few years taking part in six day and 1000Km events with some good results.

She first competed on four wheels in 1950 but with an uncompetitive car and little experience it was somewhat unrewarding. She returned to two wheel racing but on 21st April the following year she was given a Fiat 1500 6C to compete in the Turin - Saint Remo race. Against all expectation, she won. This caused considerable consternation in such a male dominated society and was to be the first of many chauvinistic encounters.

Time and time again she won and always there were problems with the other drivers. Often her car was protested or her name would be omitted from the results. At the Circuit of Lumezzane in 1957 after protests from the second and third place drivers, Renzo Castagneto decided to check all three cars. Pace's was fine but the other two were disqualified for irregularities!

When she won the Circuit of Modena the second and third place drivers refused to go onto the podium in lower positions to that of a woman.

After a while her name was often listed as 'Sayonara' in the results so that the fact that she was a woman would not detract from the reporting of the race. Pace then actually adopted this as her 'non de vollant' entering herself under that name.

Gradually she became more and more accepted and by 1957 she was widely accepted.

In 1959, she won the Trieste-Opicina and, in 1960, the 1100 cc Sports class in the Targa Florio driving an Osca. The following year she joined the squadra del Portello driving a works Alfa Romeo Giulietta SZ in numerous contests. She also raced in Cuba that year entering the Gran Premio Libertad and the supporting Formula Junior race. She competed in a number of Formula Junior races but it was in sports and touring cars that she had most success.

In the Monza 12 Hour race in 1961 she had one of the more spectacular incidents in the career. While taking the Curva Grande at around 200kph, the suspension of the Alfa broke. The car rolled and she was trapped inside the upturned car. With fuel leaking out she calmly broke the rear widow and crawled out just before the car disappeared in flames. That year she also shared her Milano Racing Club OSCA powered Lotus Eleven with Count Roberto Lippi at the 4hr Testa Rosa at Pescara, the 5th round of the World Sportscar Championship. Unfortunately engine problems put the car out after just 6 laps.

In 1962 she took a number of class win and top five finishes including the Bologna-Raticosa, the Grand Prix Campagnano at Vallelunga, the Garessio-Colle San Bernardo race, the Bolzano-Mendola race and the Trento-Bondone.

Her career results are impressive with many wins and podium finishes on both two and four wheels. She won six National Grand Touring women's titles between 1957 and 1962 and five National Sports Car women's titles between 1958 and 1962. She also won the women's Italian 125cc titles in 1953 and 1954 on her Vespa.