BBC’s Top Gear always seemed to be a boy’s club full of hot-shoe drama, but the show is not a recent phenomenon — it’s been around since 1977. One of the hosts from the past, Sue Baker, may not have had to deal with the likes of Jeremy Clarkston and Andy Wilman, but she still managed to push through the glass ceiling and establish her own presence. On Monday, Baker died at the ripe age of 75 from complications of motor neuron disease.
Baker joined Top Gear way back in 1980 and appeared in over 100 episodes through 1991, after which she set up the Motor Racing News Service. She also worked as the motoring editor for the Observer newspaper.
Of course, a woman in what typically was a man’s field is generally considered a pioneer of sorts, and Baker certainly qualifies. Giles Chapman, among the United Kingdom’s best-known automotive journalists, tweeted that Baker “should be hailed as a feminist icon,” as she was “the first woman to become a Fleet Street pro in car journalism.” Added the Guild of Motoring Writers, the world’s largest association for automotive editorial professionals, “Sue was a pioneer for women in automotive journalism.” Baker was vice-president and chair at one time.
Of course, if you’re a Yank, the world of Sue Baker may have passed you by without you noticing, so your friends at ClassicCars.com Journal have dug up a feature or two of her handiwork—enjoy!