Sunday’s checkered flag in the Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA series at Utah Motorsports Campus marked the close of a remarkable racing career for driver Desiré Wilson.
Wilson, who went from racing micro midget cars in her native South Africa to becoming the first woman to win an F1 race, closed out her competitive career with a podium performance on a track that was designed by her husband Alan.
Driving for Salt Lake City-based Air Power Racing, Wilson moved from seventh on the grid in Saturday’s race to finish second in her Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (991) returning on Sunday to score a hard-fought fifth in her final race.
“I just thought that it was time for me to step back from competing,” said Wilson, who was honored by the Pirelli Cup Series ahead of her final race start.
“It’s been a remarkable journey, and I’m grateful to have had the opportunities that I’ve had in the sport. I might get back into a car and do some lapping, but this is it for me as far as competition.”
Wilson piloted 140 different kinds of cars in her career, which took her into IndyCar, IMSA, and Le Mans competition through the decades, including winning the Monza 1000 Km and Silverstone 6 Hr World Championship Sports Car events overall.
Wilson has been an active Porsche pilot, driving four different GT3 machines (all of which she gives names to) in the last few years leading up to her final run in a Diamond Class Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (991) machine.
“I had a really good car but I didn’t put it down in qualifying,” said Wilson of her first race of the weekend. “This field is so competitive, very fast and very close so when I qualified seventh, I thought ‘this is going to be really hard, I’ll be happy with fifth.’
“I had a good start and that helped me get past a couple of cars. I know the track well and you just have to manage the time and the tires.”
Having raced all around the globe and in so many different kinds of cars helped Wilson be sure about her decision.
“I have no second thoughts,” said Wilson. “The best thing a driver can do is walk away when things are going well; the worst thing is to think “if only…”. I’m just very grateful to have had an amazing career. Thanks to all my great supporters.”
Wilson’s career was captured in the book “Driven by Desire – The Desiré Wilson Story” in 2011, which features a Forward written by Lord March.