They may not have had the sponsors or the approval of their male competitors, but the women who chose racing as a career made waves then and still are today. Their challenges and successes will be the subject of the “Women of Racing” seminar at the 16th Annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance scheduled for March 11-13, 2011, at the Golf Club of Amelia Island at Summer Beach.
“In a sport like auto racing you have to be both prepared and skilled to have any chance of success – no matter who you are, but the women who chose to pursue it had to be even more so,” says Bill Warner, Concours founder and co-chairman. “Over the years, they faced incredible challenges and obstacles competing in the sport and the women we will have scheduled for the panel at Amelia are an exceptional group who were and still are driven to win.”
One of the first women to crash racing’s male ranks was noted racer and auto journalist/author Denise McCluggage. Her forays into sports car racing in the 50s are legend today and she competed against many of the sports first big stars such as Moss and Fangio. She quickly earned the respect of her male competitors and she won the Grand Touring Category at the 1961 12 Hours of Sebring piloting a Ferrari 250 GT and also scored a class win in the world famous Monte Carlo Rally in 1964. After her racing career ended, she became editor of AutoWeek magazine.
Lyn St. James made her name in the IMSA, SCCA, CART and the IndyCar racing series. She was the second woman to qualify for the Indy 500 and was the race’s first female Rookie of the Year in 1992. She also competed in the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring scoring class wins at both, and twice ran in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Her Women In The Winner’s Circle Foundation trains the up and coming female racers and with the help of The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI has created a traveling exhibit on the history of women in racing.
Originally an aerospace engineer, Janet Guthrie became the first women to qualify and run in both the Indy 500 and the Daytona 500. She would go on to compete in 11 IndyCar and 33 NASCAR events and became the first woman to race in a NACAR Winston Cup superspeedway race when she finished 15th overall at the 1976 World 600.
Jacksonville native Patty Moise made her mark in NASCAR’s Winston Cup and Busch Series events, and drove in nearly 140 races. At 16, she was competing in the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) series and made her Busch Series debut in 1986 and Road Atlanta. She was the first women in the history of the Busch Series to lead a race.
Young up-and-coming racer Jessica Brunelli of Hayward, CA, will be competing for the second season for Revolution Racing, NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity team. At the young age of 18, she has almost 10 years of experience, competing in both open wheel and stock cars on both ovals and road courses, with success in the Skip Barber Series, Midgets, Modifieds, and Late Model Stock cars.
As the winner of the 2001 Dakar Rally, Jutta Kleinschmidt of Monaco and Bradenton, FL, has demonstrated the grit and determination to compete in one of the most grueling races in all of motorsports. She’s driven in the Dakar numerous times, including on a motorcycle, as well as racing sports cars at Nurburgring and other tracks in Europe. She travels the world speaking and doing a variety of automotive programs.
Although she may not be as well known for her racing achievements as the other panelists, Judy Stropus developed her own highly accurate scoring and timing system before the use of computers or transponders. Using only a pad, pencil, stopwatch and her computer-like brian, she provided services to the top teams such as Roger Penske, Bud Moore and Peter Gregg. She even wrote a book on her craft. After the introduction of computing tools, Stropus moved over to the public relations side of racing and became equally as successful serving clients like GM, Duracell, Mattel Toys, Royal Oak Charcoal and BMW. Warner says Stropus’s experience is an important lesson for young women who think racing is just for the guys. “Just because a woman may not be talented enough to win races, doesn’t mean they can’t move into other areas of the automotive world by using racing as a springboard.”
The 2011 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance will be held March 11-13 on the 10th and 18th fairways of the Golf Club of Amelia Island at Summer Beach adjacent to the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island. The show’s Foundation has donated nearly $1.7 million to Community Hospice of Northeast Florida, Inc. and other charities on Florida’s First Coast since its inception in 1996.
[Source: Amelia Island Concours]