Sybil Lupp, racing driver
Sybil (or Sibyl as is shown on the birth registrar) was born in Hawke's Bay in 1916. In the early 1920s, her family moved back to Blenheim, where Sybil was educated at home by a governess. Sybil rode ponies, did needlework, built radios and loved to "mess around with machinery".
She had learned to drive by age 11, and at age 14 she was driving an M-type MG. She took a correspondence course in car maintenance while studying nursing, and was eventually employed in a machine workshop in Nelson before getting a job as one of New Zealand's first female mechanics at J. G. Ingram and Company’s garage.There she met John (Jack) Morris Charles Lupp, a motor sport enthusiast and former mechanic, who was sales manager at the garage.
They were married at St Mary’s Church, Blenheim, in 1939. Sybil worked at the garage as a car saleswoman until 1940, when their daughter was born. Sybil and Jack both served in the Air Force from 1941 to 1945 at RNZAF stations Woodbourne and Delta. Employed as a driver, her duties included vehicle maintenance, and she took a correspondence course on diesel engines. Jack died unexpectedly of a heart attack in 1945, shortly after their son was born.
In 1947 Sybil married Jack’s younger brother, Percival Louis Lupp, a returned soldier and scientific instrument maker, who shared her love of fast cars, and the couple moved to Dunedin. There they helped found the Otago Sports Car Club. As the club’s delegate in 1947–48 she became the first woman member of the executive of the new Association of New Zealand Car Clubs (later the Motorsport Association of New Zealand).
Sybil entered and won her first race competition in 1947, and spent the next few years until 1954 successfully competing in hill climbs, sprints and circuit races. She held the Class F NZ quarter mile flying start record of 100.52 mph for 6 years.
She then set up her own business tuning, repairing and selling Jaguars, as well as founding the MG Car Club in NZ. She shared the Jaguar business with Lionel Archer, whom she married in 1969. Her son eventually took over the business, but Sybil kept driving Jaguars until her death in 1994.
Sources used in this story
- Marlborough Museum and Archives
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Further sources - Sybil Lupp, racing driver
- Brown, M. (2018, Sept 15) A driving force for change. Retrieved from Stuff:
- Allison Buchan. 'Lupp, Sybil Audrey Marie', Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, first published in 2000. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, https://teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/5l21/lupp-sybil-audrey-marie
- Sybl Lupp. A digital story. Digital New Zealand (accessed October 2019)