Racing has a specific smell, my first NASCAR race at Chicagoland Speedway the weekend of September 18th was no different. The hot metal, burning race fuel, and mass of sticky people make a magical mixture that could never be replaced by any court or field sport.
Like the smell, the atmosphere at a professional motorsports event is distinctly laced with an electric excitement like no other. It is no wonder that race fans are fanatically energetic.
I mean, who wouldn’t stand up in their chair when a field of 40-some cars come rolling past like thunder?
Leading up to the event, I could not help but notice the differences in NASCAR culture compared to other sporting events. The emphasis around the facility was clearly geared toward families. This race was christened the ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle 400’, a tactic that was clearly to attract a younger audience’s attention and provide a unique atmosphere at the race track. All weekend long the characters of the show were taking pictures and posing amongst the fans. Some of the Xfinity and Sprint Cup cars sported special livery in honor of the Heroes in a Half Shell so that you could not only root for your favorite driver- but also for your favorite character. Is this traditional motorsports marketing? Not in the slightest, but like it or not it is becoming more challenging to attract a younger audience and hold their attention- this was an excellent way to do so.
Besides the families in the stands, there was a distinct theme of drivers that were sporting the ‘family man’ image. Walking into the driver’s meeting, during driver introductions and even on the pre-grid, drivers with families were never without their child and/or wife by their side. This phenomenon may be applicable to other disciplines, but in tandem with the Nickelodeon cartoon theme, this presence was noticeably prevalent.
This familial emphasis found its way into the garages as well. The crews working on the cars naturally seem to form their own band of brotherhood. Before the race, there were prayers, huddles, back slaps and good wishes. Comradery can take many forms. Some teams even have a BBQ set up right outside their hauler with a crewman cooking up a hot meal for their guys. One took me through the day’s menu of grilled pineapple and teriyaki chicken.
It was a beautiful, clear afternoon in Joliet, IL when the Sprint Cup cars came down for the green on the 1.5mi bull ring. The race itself was relatively yellow free. Due to rain earlier in the week, the grid was set by accumulated season points. Last year’s Chicagoland champion and defending Sprint Cup Champion, Kyle Busch in his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota started from the pole. He was quickly under siege by the second place starter, Brad Keselowski in the No. 2 Team Penske Ford. It would come down to tire strategy and a late yellow brought on by No. 98 of Michael McDowell that would reshuffle the field. Second generation fan favorite, Chase Elliott in the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet would have to come in for fresh rubber. Frontrunner Martin Truex Jr. in the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota would beat Elliott off of pit lane. Coming down to the green, Truex used the advantage of fresh tires to take home the win. Joey Logano in the Team Penske No. 22 would finish second and Elliott would roll home third.
In the thick cloud of burnt rubber and the aroma bacon encrusted nachos, Truex rejoiced in his win with his wife and crew by his side. Moving forward in the Chase rounds, it will be interesting to see who advances.
There are many really big annual and kinda famous Cruise-Ins/Car shows throughout this great country.
The back the 50’s Cruise in Minnesota is one. The Woodward Avenue Dream Cruise in, in Detroit is another. Of course the NSRA and The Good-guys put together great weekend cruises all across the country. They are all fun and usually BIG.
Out here in the West we have our own really BIG cruise-in/car show, Yup, Hot August Nights in Reno/Sparks. This cruise is 30 years old and still going strong. 2016 was no disappointment.
The main drag, Virginia Street, and several cross streets are blocked off during the day and participants display their cars on those blocked off streets each day. Toward evening the streets are cleared and crowd control barricades are brought it and placed along the curbs of Virginia and those cars that were displayed all day and many many more cars form up on North Virginia Street and cruise, double file, south on Virginia to the delight of 1000’s of on lookers from the sidewalks.
This downtown cruise and daily car show is sponsored by the downtown Casinos like, Harrah’s, The Silver Legacy, Circus Circus, The Eldorado and other businesses. There’s live music, great food and of course CARS.
For three days Summit Racing sponsors what I call a, mini trade show, at the Reno Event Center Downtown, billed as Big Boy Toys. A long list of vendors brings their products and knowledgeable representatives with expertise in their chosen fields/products to help you with your next build. Summit Racing sets up a remote order desk right at the show so you can order your needs right there and then pick it up later at their store/warehouse a few miles down the road in Sparks. Or it can be set up for shipment to your home address, so you don’t have to worry about having the room to carry your purchases home in your car. Very convenient! I’ve used this method myself many times.
In addition to the downtown venue many of the other Casino/Resorts all over the area sponsor and hold their own car show/cruise-ins right at their locations, with valuable prizes, live music, food etc. In fact the whole town/area gets into the spirit with something going on all the time, every day, the whole week. There are mini cruises at most of the outlying Casinos throughout the days and evenings. And like in downtown Reno, Sparks blocks off their main drag and cruises double file throughout the evenings.
With nearly 6000 registered participants there were Hot Rods, Street Rods, Street Machines, box stock restorations, race cars, you name it. Everywhere.
There is a swap meet too, at the Reno/Sparks Livestock Expo. I like swap meets whether I’m in need of more rusty parts or not. The same organizers have been running the HAN Swap Meet for several years now and it just get bigger and better every year. Plus, they have a car for sale corral inside out of the weather in the Expo Arena. There were some good buys available this year. You could have bought your next project or finished project there and participated in the fun all week and then driven it home.
This year Motorsport Auction Group held a collector car auction at the Reno/Sparks Convention Center. This was their first time at this event and what a great job they did putting on a pretty big time auction. Lots of nicely restored, hot rodded, etc. cars and trucks changed hands. Dave Kindig with Kindig-it-Design was on hand at the auction with several of the cars his shop in Utah had recently completed. Some you probably saw on TV on his show “Bitchin’ Rides.” He and “Kev Dog” Kevin Schiele were on hand to field everyone’s questions. They are a couple really nice guys and they build absolutely fabulous cars and trucks. Check out the TV show on Velocity TV.
Marsha and I decided last year we were going and made our reservations way early. Always a good plan since we like to use our time share which is right in downtown Reno. It’s a condo like set up with 2 bedrooms, more room than we need so we asked another couple, who had NEVER been to HAN, if they wanted to go and they jumped at the chance. I’m not sure after spending a week there us, they were still as excited but we did have fun. Fortunately, they are car nuts too and they seem to like Margaritas as well, so all is well.
There is an opportunity to win prizes and money if your car is judged and receives an award. The Main Host Hotel is the Grand Sierra. If you plan to attend next year’s Hot August Nights, August 8th – 13th. Registration is open now and you can register online at www.hotaugustnights.net. Register early and save. The website has a host of valuable info so check it out. What’s not to like about a week of Cool Cars and Rock ‘n Roll music?
This month’s Featured Ride is a 61 year old piece of sculptured pure-bred artistic creation of automobile wonder. Terry Morris Custom Auto down in Wilsonville, Oregon worked four long years designing, developing and fine-tuning this piece of art. We at R&R NW Publication are pleased to make Mr. Dick Pedro’s 1955 Dodge Royal 2DR Custom Hardtop from Gresham, Oregon our featured ride of the Month for November 2016.
This delicious ’55 Dodge Royal 2 Dr Hardtop from the Chrysler family of fine automobiles was a unique look, back in the mid-fifties. She sports a 354 ci Hemi producing 500 plus HP with a 700 R4 four speed auto tranny on the floor for fun and a 9” Ford Rear-End. A Fatman chassis holds it all together and Wilwood Disc brakes on all four corners does a cool job slowing her down. She’s been tricked out with all the updated tricks like AC , power steering, power brakes and a super sound system. The interior has been treated to a set of Jaguar modified leather seats upfront and arm rested comfort in the back. The classic w/white tires highlight the Orange metallic wheels w/ beauty rings and a set of Spider Clusters on all four corners really bring this ride alive. The exterior of this beauty features Silver metallic lower body, Pristine black top with orange and black scalloping hi-lighting the sides and hood area with world class artist Mitch Kim adding the straight and clean line pin-stripping, bringing this piece of creative art all together like a perfectly framed master piece. Dick Pedro has owned and built several tricked out cars, trucks and street rods since his days back at Molalla High School where in Auto Shop he built a sweet little ’55 Ford two door HT that got him around the valley in the mid-sixties. He now makes his home out in the Gresham area of Portland and can usually be found at the Endless Summer Cruze-In every Wednesday out in Gresham, sponsored by the Pharaohs Street Rodders raising funds and supporting our veterans programs. Mr. Pedro has owned this fantastic Dodge Royal for over ten years and she has won her share of trophies all over the West.
First we need to acknowledge the passing of two motorsports industry giants.
John Dianna from Hot Rod Magazine fame and Brock Yates from Car & Driver and inventor of the Cannon Ball Run. These guys put it out there and it is up to us to keep it out there. That means we need to keep it up with the Support of the upcoming RPM Bill, our battle against the EPA who would change all of what these men stood for. Be sure to get back to SEMA.com and fire one last shot even if you have already been there once.
Now lets talk about EV Cars, that would be cars powered by batteries—the kinds of cars the EPA would love to have every driver in America driving. Any responsible GearHead would be against that idea. And we are not alone. There are many other major industries fighting EPA tooth and nail over this sort of thing. But be aware, there are also many other industries jumping into this EV craze in a big way – to the tune of over 200 startups entering this market – and heavily subsidized by our government. And get this – China is making a big move in this area. Imagine a future generation of Millennial offspring all compliantly motoring around the Nation in little electric cars … from China! A generation that barely knows anything about what muscle cars once were.
This brings us to Autonomous Cars—those which will haul you around without the necessity of you doing any navigating. Hands off that wheel! I should remind you that for publication purposes, these futuristic scenarios are the opinion of this writer. Well, there are many others in agreement. Be advised that they are already appearing in cities. Looks like taxis will be the first. No more Uber drivers. Imagine a future when you will be criminally prosecuted for touching that wheel. Imagine a future where you will be prosecuted if you are caught simply owning a car that requires you to drive it. Imagine a future where internal combustion musclecars are long, long gone—outlawed! Imagine this all coming faster than you can imagine!
Speaking of fast, we should probably mention Roborace. This is a racing series of autonomously controlled electric racecars running the top roadracing circuits all around the UK and elsewhere. These cars will be strictly run by an algorithm, no human contact or guidance. That starts this year. Sounds like revenge of the nerds to me.
Oh and did we mention the 48 volt hybrids that are coming? Well ’nuff said for now. What say you, GearHeads?
Next we will be getting into a real sticky wicket concerning the subject of cyber security and these autonomous cars. By next issue the SEMA Show will be concluding and General Hayden will have given his speech. Retired four-star General Michael Hayden, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA), will speak at the AAPEX 2016 General Session taking place on Wednesday, Nov. 2, from 8 a.m. to 8:50 a.m., (PST), at the Venetian in Las Vegas. We will see what he has to say on this subject.
I love creating these all for the love stories that include the father and the son or sons teaming up and building their classic custom cars and trucks together. Wow! In today’s world it’s becoming a challenge to find a guy like Mr. Mel Lally and his son Gregg who have teamed up and built several award winning cars and trucks together in the past 35 plus years. Mel and Gregg’s mother Kay were married for 51 beautiful years. They lost Kay about six years ago to illness but their strong family bond and their creative togetherness keeps her memory alive.
1970 Opel Sport Coupe
Sporting a 4 banger for power with dual weber carbs, Stock five speed on the floor trans and stock rearend. She sports a gorgeous Opel red cherry body with black comp stripe, picture framing the tricked out vented hood area. The interior features those high as the sky red with black trim bucket seats making for a nice ride. She’s running Radial GT’s on reverse Racing wheels creating a sweet long and low stance. Another build from Gregg and always a little input from dad.
1970 Chevy Nova
For power, a 350 Nitrous engine stroked to 388 ci producing over 600 HP. She features a T-350 Tranny and beefed up rear-end. The interior was stock Chevy in Black and the Cherry Red paint makes this ride come alive on those BF Goodrich Racing tires over the mag-wheels complete with knock-offs. Gregg restored this car 99% with a little help from dad.
1937 Ford ½ Ton PU
She sports a Ford built Flathead for power featuring Offenhauser heads and intake manifold, holding dual 97’s in place for carburation, a C-4 auto tranny and 8” Ford rear/end gets her down the highway in style. The interior is fresh saddle tan leather and was stitched by Jim’s in Oak Grove. To enhance the stance she sports 550/15’s up front and 850/15’s out back with chrome rally wheels and baby moons on all four. The color on this piece of art, that took Mel and Gregg about six years to build from a truck load of parts, is labeled Dan Lo Blue. The color is from a Toyota? She appears to have some green cabbage color in there somewhere. She’s one fine cherry little Ford with a lot of class and the finished color is fantastic. She’s won her share of trophies in style.
1961 TR 3A Roadster
Featuring a classic four banger for power, stock rear end and tranny. This was a five year project requiring a body off restoration. She sports a gorgeous black leather interior and a delicious Triumph classic pale yellow exterior finish, showing off those Dayton chrome wire wheels on all four corners. This build was good enough to receive the People’s Choice 1st place trophy at the All British Field Meet here in Portland at PIR. She’s a winner when-ever and where-ever she’s shown. A classic foreign beauty.
1939 Pontiac Deluxe Coupe
A 350 ci Chevy for power, a turbo 400 auto tranny on the tree for fun, and a 9” Ford rear-end. Mel and Gregg didn’t do all the build on this better than new Pontiac but they did fine-tune the wiring harness and a few other changes on this baby and have plans to add Air Conditioning ASAP. They put several thousand miles on her taking it to shows in Montana and down to Hot August Nights in Reno back in 2014 where she was very well received and is winning trophy’s where-ever she shows. The burgundy exterior with purple hi-lights and the graphics on the side by master stripper “Tippet” make this little orphan come alive. The interior is a delicious white leather with dark piping creating a classic period theme. The w/whites on the tires and the dark pink wheels with baby moons and beauty rings finish this gorgeous ride off in style. I hope Mel and Gregg put her in the Portland Roadster Show come March 2017.
Mel Lally attended Franklin High School back in the early to mid-fifties and had the pleasure of having some pretty good company there. Friends like Keith Preskey and Al Drake attended at that time and both are well known to the Multnomah Hot Rod Council—both lifelong active members with the prestigious Portland Roadster Show. After high school Mel spent some time with Uncle Sam in the US Army, regular duty and the reserves. Mel was employed at Coe Mfg in the Portland area for over 45 years producing saw mill equipment. Gregg attended Gladstone High where he was active in the Auto shop programs.
In a short follow-up to the intro of this All for the Love Story, a beautiful thing happened a while back for Mel. He met a wonderful lady, who is also widowed, named Sandi that just happens to love old classic cars and hot rod trucks. They are both blessed with their new friendship and Sandi joined the family at a recent ceremony and is now Mrs. Mel Lally. We at R&R NW Publications would like to Congratulate the newly-weds and wish you and your combined families all the happiness you have earned. We would also like to thank both Mel and Gregg for sharing your fantastic All for the love of Street Rods, Fancy Trucks and Classic Car stories with us and our thousands of readers throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
Produced by Northwest Motorsports Association and presenting sponsor Weston BUICK KIA GMC, Rockin’ Round the Block is a fundraiser for the Mt Hood Community College Automotive Technology Scholarship Program. The event has raised over $153,000 for student scholarships in the past 17 years. The day was packed with fun for the entire family including free kid’s activities, vendor booths and a nostalgic street cruise. This years show was celebrated with over 350 custom cars, street rods, trucks and bikes registering to be eligible to have their rides judged for an opportunity to win one of over 125 Rockin’Round the Block custom made trophies. Opening ceremony started the show with the singing of the star spangled banner at 10 AM and live music with Ron Reudi and the Hurricanes entertained the crowd from noon to 5pm on 3rd & Main Street in downtown Gresham.
As an added attraction Bev and Vern Farris event co-chairs sold raffle tickets for three battery powered children’s vehicles. The funds raised at this event was dedicated to help provide services to veterans and their families. Bob Carlson donated a yellow Prowler and Jan Weston donated two KIA’s to the fund raising program that were given away at this year’s cruise-in. A total of 25 Block Sponsors and supporters from local churches to businesses and community out reach foundations from all over Gresham helped support the 2016 activities. An estimated 12,000 spectators enjoyed the car show plus many frequented the Gresham Farmers Market that is always a big hit. In addition a big salute goes out to all the volunteers from the Northwest Motor sports association and the local Gresham Police and Fire Departments for their activities in making the 2016 show one of the best ever.
This year’s Cruise-In was held back on August 6th from 3pm to 10 pm at the Milwaukie Bowl located on Harrison Ave. across the Expressway from co-sponsor Mike’s Drive-In. 69 fantastic awards were given out including 5 special Sponsor Pick Trophies. With over 136 Street Rods, Custom Classic Cars and Trucks in attendance including the local MOPAR Club with over 10 cars registered. Live Music was provided by Ron Ruedi in a fenced off special Beer Garden area. The Benefit for the Missing in America Project and the Veterans Lines for Life, raised over $2800 dollars for the two local Veterans programs sponsored by the Pharaohs Street Rodders. It was a great show complete with Dash Plaques, Special T-Shirts, $1.00 Root Beer Floats & Hot Dogs and Chips plus special Glow Bowling games all day inside. Dirty Dave the Record Slave played Golden Oldies on request till 6pm to the hundreds of people in attendance.
Thanks to all for helping raise funds for our local veterans programs and thanks to all the volunteers making this year’s Milwaukie Cruise-In show one of the best ever.
Have you ever noticed that when you retire everyone asks, “How’s retirement?” “What are you going to do now?” I just retired after 35+ years from a great job with NAPA Auto Parts and I started to think about my bucket list; how I now, could possibly get some of the things on my list checked off.
Last January I happened to see an ad for the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion featuring the 50-year anniversary of Can Am and Trans Am race cars. This has always been part of my bucket list before I even knew what a bucket list was. You know, sleek bodies, big tires, tall velocity stacks, giant wings… cars that go up to 185 MPH: McLaren, Lola, Shadow, Ferraris… I could go on and on. As a gearhead I have always loved auto racing, of course, and the Can Am cars have always been my favorite.
Let the adventure begin!
Leaving Albany with my good friend Steve Veltman, heading south on I-5. All adventures are not without problems. We found out that because I had made our motel reservations in January when our American Express card through Costco was still the card we always used, I hadn’t thought about the fact that when the motel tried to charge AmEx for the reservation now, that it wouldn’t got through. Of course not… I called the motel only a few hours after receiving the dreaded “transaction denied” notification that came in at 3 AM, but the motel had already given our room away and had no ideas to help out, only saying “Doubt there’s any rooms in the Monterey area, it’s a race weekend.”
As we drove down the road I made contact with my cousin, Pat, in Gilroy, CA. Thank you! She had a place for us to stay that night. Meanwhile, back at home my wife was searching for a place for the rest of the weekend. She found one closer to the track than the original place, only costing twice as much instead of the 3-4 times as much as thought it might be.
Arriving at the track, I was completely overwhelmed seeing cars that I had only seen in magazines and on TV. The historic race is a giant event with cars from all of the US, Europe and Australia. Can Am cars more local to me, the Tacoma area, Willamette Valley and the southern Oregon coast area had representation.
We Took a break from the races and went to the Canepa Motorsports Shop open house. There, they restore vintage race cars and have a museum. We saw cars such as the 6 wheel Tyrell Formula 1 car, Le Mans winning Porsche and Ferraris. What a great place to visit! Twice! I left one of my cameras there. They watched over it for me until I could get back on the way home. Back to the races…
Thank goodness for shuttles. The Mazda Raceway is not level as it is built in a valley. The races go up and down hills on the course. At the top of the highest hill is a turn fittingly called “the corkscrew.” It is an S curve that drops three stories in less than an eighth of a mile. Pretty impressive to watch the cars come around at the top and follow them down the corkscrew!
In the pits was where I saw one of my favorite Can Am cars, a 1971 Shadow Mark II. It has small diameter tires, extreme aerodynamics and a Chevy V-8 engine that has approximately 800HP! I met the current owner, Dennis Losher and we were able to talk for a long time about the car. He even let me sit in it! Getting into a Can Am car is feat in itself-put your hands here, don’t touch this, don’t touch that, stand on the seat, (yes the seat), straighten your legs, slide down into the seat. Squeeze and wiggle, then you’re in! I could imagine what it is like to race this car. You can’t see the front end because it drops off so quickly-better aerodynamics. The engine is right behind you and the velocity stacks are right above your head. Pretty amazing.
While I was in the Shadow pit area, I met Don Nichols, designer and engineer of the first tiny tire Shadow. Even at the age of 93 he is still sharp. He told me how they built the front suspension with small coil springs the size of engine valve springs.
I also got to meet up with a former co-worker and his McLaren M8E/D Can Am car. His car was on display only-oil and coolant don’t mix, possibly a cracked block.
If you think traffic in Portland is bad, try the Monterey Bay area with the historic Races, Pebble Beach Concourse D’Elegance Car Show and several auto auctions and car shows going on at the same time!
We also watched vintage Formula 1 Races. They were exciting, loud and fast Lotus, Brabham, Ferrari, March and Tyrell race cars.
The Trans Am cars were just brute power, fast and loud. Muscle cars you see on the street: Mustangs Camaros, Javelins and a Dodge Challenger were represented there. Quite something to feel and hear.
Getting older is interesting. Leaving behind some important things was humbling (did I mention my glasses?). I left them in a restaurant and got them back also. But I did quickly get into my new habit of checking as I stood up to go anywhere: wallet, glasses, phone, keys-wallet, glasses, phone, keys… so with help from family, old and new friends and my wife who is not afraid of computers, I was able to check one thing off my bucket list. It was a memorable weekend and my own bed never looked and felt so good!
The GoodGuys host three-day weekend, first class car shows all over America every year starting in March and continuing through November. We, here in the NorthWest are lucky enough to get two of these events right here in our own back yard, one in the Seattle area, Puyallup Washington and one in Spokane. Pleasanton California, their home turf or kinda where it all began, gets four shows a year. Definitely worth the drive from almost anywhere out west and beyond.
I’ve been going to these long before Roddin’ & Racin’ NorthWest ever started but I have to say that this year’s 29th WESCO Pacific Northwest Nationals at the Washington State Fair Event Center in Puyallup Washington was really a great one.
There seemed to be tons of cars in attendance that I had never seen before. It’s really gratifying to an old car enthusiast like me to see that our hobby is going strong, in large part thanks to organizations like the GoodGuys Rod & Custom Association. Memberships and info are available on line. www.good-guys.com. The 2017 schedule isn’t out yet but check back on their site or better yet become a member and you’ll be notified when the new year schedule is out and come check out the fun next year.
Lyn St.James is more than a retired racecar driver. While other previous Indy500 participants fade into obscurity, Ms. St.James tours the country giving talks, encouraging the next generation to join the circus of motorsports and tells tales about her career.
Ms. St.James has quite a few stories to her impressive resume. She started racing in 1974 with a Ford Pinto (that she immediately drove into a lake). By 1979 she competed nationally as a professional driver. Ford had faith in her talent and she worked her way up into bigger and faster road racing divisions. Her top accomplishments include winning the 24 hours of Daytona twice (1987, 1990) and the 12 hours of Sebring (1990). This road led her to competing famed racecourses like LeMans and Nurburgring. In 1992, eleven years after visiting the most iconic race in the world, St. James competed in her first Indy500. She would win the Rookie of the Year title, finishing 11th- the first woman to hold that honor. She has competed against legends Mario Andretti, Nigel Mansell and Rick Mears, all while facing the adversity of being a woman in a male dominated sport.
This last summer Ms.St.James came out to speak at the World of Speed motorsports museum in Wilsonville, Oregon to promote their impressive Heroes and History Indy500 display. I had the wonderful opportunity to interview my idol further about the centennial Indy500, her training habits, and even politics. What continues to impress me about Ms. St. James is her quick and candid frankness when answering my inquiries. This is a sampling of some of my favorite answers.
The last time we talked was out at Indy, I saw you just before you got behind the wheel of a vintage Indycar. Tell me about that experience. How did that all come about?
That actually came as a result of the IMS museum. They organized that exhibition. Some were museum cars owned by the museum and some were independent owners. I was asked if I wanted to drive one and I said ‘certainly’. The car that I was driving was the 1935 Pirrung that Wilbur Shaw finished second in the 1935 Indy500 and it is actually owned by a woman…It was really lovely, I didn’t know what to expect, those cars are not that easy to drive!…Two things she said to me, one was to be careful as we got out onto the track because that was a fairly tight turn, almost a U turn. She said that if you turn the steering wheel too tightly it will override the steering box and you will lose your steering. The other thing was that there was this handpump that she had to use to pump oil into the engine. She wasn’t just a passenger!
It has been 24 years since you won the Rookie of the Year at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In those years how have you seen the sport change?
It has gone through a number of changes. The most significant are the improvements in safety, both the tracks as well as the cars. The demands of the increased downforce and physical capability that is needed to drive these cars has demanded that these drivers be amazingly fit athletes. The technology has taken leaps. The equipment itself has changed. I look at those cars, and I talk to some of the drivers, and I read about what is like to drive them and I scratch my head. I know that it is well beyond what my skills are able to do. I admire and I am in awe of what those competitors are doing right now.
If you could have anyone as your teammate, who would you want and why?
Rick Mears. Just because his driving style and mine are probably what I can tell are the most similar, and he is very open and willing to share. He is one of my idols and that would be my choice of teammate.
In your opinion, who is the most underrated female racer (and yes you include in that pool)?
(long pause) That is a tough question. One of the things that I learned a long time ago was to never expect, anticipate or judge other people’s opinion of my skills because if you do, you are down a downward spiral. We have enough challenge to control our own self doubt, our own internal thoughts. When you allow other people’s thoughts to penetrate your brain and process those, you are in dangerous territory. There are some people that overrated my driving and those that have underrated it. I don’t value that… the key people that I really regarded was the respect that I would get from my teammates and from my owners, my crew.
If you had one piece of advice, one takeaway from listening to your speech and your stories, what would it be?
You have to have the confidence and believe in yourself. If you rely on lap times and external opinions, whatever. If you rely on external information to feel good about who you are, then you are in quicksand. You have to figure out how to have that confidence in yourself, and it ain’t easy. It comes from lap times sometimes, but if you rely on that you are really set up for failure.