Lethers, Lipstick and Two-Wheel Passion

Daily Telegraph - 8 June 1996

For two grubby, pubescent boys, the defining moment of the TT probably occurred behind the main grandstand. A slender rider, sealed in race leathers, removed a crash helmet to reveal a face framed by long auburn hair, accentuated with lipstick and foundation. Tugging each other's elbows in amazement, they grinned sheepishly as Francesca Romana Giordano shot back a broad, glamorous smile.

"I always put make-up on; it makes me feel a little better when I race," says Francesca, one of only three female solo riders in the TT. "There is this idea that if you are a woman who races motorbikes you can't be feminine."

As the only woman competing in the 750cc Italian Championship, breaking taboos is something she has been remarkably good at in an unabashedly male-dominated world. She drove from Italy alone in her mobile home to take part in the TT for the third time, racing 400cc and 600cc machines in what she says is "the most famous motorcycle race in the world".

A former architect, she enraged her parents by throwing in a respectable career to work as a grease monkey at the local circuit near Milan, where her passion for motorcycles was inspired.

Aside of racing, she is also president of the Associazione Difesa Moto, which she founded to fight for motorcyclists' rights. Francesca also directs a bike-geared chat show called the Bike Drawing Room on Italian regional television. For now, though, she is keen to promote women as road racers.

"There is no reason why more women can't race," she says. "After all, a motorcycle doesn't have a sex at all, does it?"


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