Stan Minarik, who has been associated with FIVA since 1985, as well as several Czech clubs and institutions including the Autoklub České Republiky, knew Junek well.
“We had been living near Elisabethʼs flat, at the residence of the Swedish ambassador in Prague Castle,” explains Stan. “My wife and I visited her often, and took her to motorsport events such as the Barum Rally, the Zbraslav-Jíloviště hillclimb or out to Brno circuit.
“I invited her to social events during the FIVA general committee meeting that I organised in Prague. She was an amazing lady; even in her 90s she remembered everything, and she recounted her stories in several languages, all spoken fluently.
“The president of FIVA at that time  was Kraft zu Hohenlohe-Langenburg. It was after the Velvet Revolution, and we were renewing our membership to this international organisation.
“The gala dinner was held in a beautiful castle in Troja, Prague, where dozens of interesting historic cars were on display in a large park. The official dinner started, as usual, with speeches and the atmosphere was very starched. But nobody knew Eliška.”
Even in her 90s, Junek remained a captivating personality
“After the main speeches were over, she began to reminisce about her friends from different countries, starting her sentences in Czech, then switching to French, Italian or English,” Stan continues.
“Everyone relaxed when listening to her, and the previously formal evening turned into an unforgettable event, long remembered by all involved. And that was all thanks to the diminutive 90-year-old Eliška Junková.”
In the Heritage Hall of Fame, Junek joins the likes of Soichiro Honda, Osamu Suzuki, Battista ʻPininʼ Farina, prominent collectors Evert Louwman and Luis Spadafora, engineer Mauro Forghieri, designers Marcello Gandini and Giorgetto Giugiaro, and legendary motorsport figures Rosemary Smith, Cesare Fiorio and rally World Champion Walter Rörhl.
Even if memories of Elisabeth Junekʼs achievements have faded over time, now at last this pioneering ʻqueen of the wheelʼ is enjoying a well-deserved place in the sun.
Images: Junek family archive
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