The Female Driver

December 21, 1907
Los Angelesminnieheadline

Hey, enough you, with the cracks about the lady driver.  Let’s see you make a long tour over hairpin turn-filled mountain roads replete with sharp ascents and descents.  Such a journey requires skill and judgement, “and yet,” writes the Times, “woman drivers are giving as good account of themselves in this work as men.”  

During the dear Edwardian days, the more daring element among our fairer sex would, on such tours, more often than not content themselves with presiding at the wheel on smooth stretches, leaving the real driving to the patriarchy.  Snorting a hearty pshaw at convention, Minnie Roberts of Madera shipped her 1905 White steamer touring car to Los Angeles to have it rebuilt as a runabout.  Here they also painted the auto a bright red.  She came down to LA to see how her car was coming, and, on visiting her pals Mr. and Mrs. H. D. Ryus, announced she was going to drive the beast home herself.  Mr. Ryus loaned her a mechanic in case the car should break down, but otherwise, Minnie was at the wheel.


The two days, and 315 miles, were full of hills, fords, bends, sand, ruts, desert, canyons and thick woods—and few towns.  The Tejon pass summit, where they were caught in a brief but fierce rain, is 4280 feet; Mint Cañon has a 3850 foot summit.  Minnie and the mechanic donned leather-covered laprobes during the inclement weather, since Minnie “does not believe in” glass fronts or canvas tops.

Whence came Minnie’s love of hard driving and speed?  It seems the week previous, Minnie had been taken for a ride in her pal “Wild Bill” Ruess’ fifty-horse-power Pope-Toledo (“that he uses to scare the life out of would-be motorists”) which, when it reached fifty-five miles and hour and could get no more speed, Minnie asked sweetly of Wild Bill, “Is this all the fast you can go?”












(A 1905 White, above, indicating the proper placement of ladies within an automobile, an image I snatched from here.)