(b. 08/03/1929 Stora Herrestads, Sweden – present)
Born in 1929 to a family of farmers in Stora Herrestads, Sweden, Ewy Rosqvists is known for her international success in rally car racing. Prior to her preeminence in the motorsports world, Rosqvists worked as a veterinary assistant, artificially inseminating cows in her hometown in Sweden. Though vastly unrelated, this occupation sparked her passion for car racing: Rosqvist drove over 90 miles between farms and, in order to sustain viable sperm samples, she needed to do so quickly and efficiently—learning to navigate oftentimes difficult, unpaved roads. Over time, she began to record how long it took to transfer semen samples, challenging herself to beat personal records.
At the age of 25, Rosqvist finally decided to jumpstart her competitive car racing career, participating in her very first competition in 1954. By 1961, Rosqvist developed an extraordinary reputation, having won the women’s European Rally Championships three years in a row. Her success caught the eye of Daimler-Benz AG (present-day Mercedes-Benz), who eagerly formed a partnership with her in rally car racing. By 1962, Rosqvist, along with her co-driver Ursula Wirth, became the only female participant of 286 rally racers competing in the Argentinian Grand Prix—a grueling 10 day, 2,874-mile event with perilous landscapes. Triumphing over every segment of this race “couldn’t be done,” a claim that Rosqvist and Wirth proved laughably untrue: in their Mercedes-Benz 220 SEb, Rosqvist and Wirth left their fellow competitors in the dust, reaching the finish line 3 hours before any other racer and setting an all-time record in a male-dominated sport. Although their Mercedes-Benz 220 SEb was certainly the fastest automobile on the tracks those days, navigating the treacherous landscapes of the Argentinian Grand Prix necessitated dexterous competency and great physical endurance—qualities Rosqvist unequivocally displayed in her performance. She revolutionized female representation in sports media, proving her brilliance as a rally car driver while embracing her femininity both on and off the tracks. To this day, her inspirational prowess and success remind us that “if you do not challenge fate, you cannot win.” We hope her infamous words echo in the minds of skeptics and non-believers, reminding them: “They said I could never finish, so I finished first.”