Lots of News

Editor's Notebook, May 1997

There is a lot of news about women in racing. Action on the track is being made more and more exciting by the special determination and courage that it takes for a woman to compete in a sport so overwhelmingly dominated by men.


There is a growing audience of women, eager to learn more, to support women drivers, and to fantasize about racing against the guys. For some women, the lure is overwhelming and they are getting seat time in driver schools, at amateur events, and in short tracks around the world. The next generation of women race car drivers is now being baptized under fire.


Driver Update Sarah Kavanagh is racing in the European BOSS and Formula Nippon championships. Shari Minter is running in Charlotte's Speedweek ARCA events. Margie Smith-Haas is racing once again for Team San Diego in the ACRL.


Lyn St. James is preparing for her sixth run in the Indianapolis 500. Tammy Jo Kirk is running the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Jennifer Tumminelli is at the races almost every weekend, racing her Formula Mazda, or as a member of the PPG Pace Car Team, or as the publicist for the Toyota Atlantic team of Chuck West.


Cristen Powell is burning up the track in the NHRA top fuel series. Kat Teasdale is putting together a run in the Busch Grand National series. Christine Karns is taking her World of Outlaws Sprint Car to a higher level of racing.


On a more somber note, Terry MacDonald-Cadieux cracked her neck in a Sportscar (IMSA) Stock SportsCars race accident at Road Atlanta. And our computer racing correspondent, Alison Hine, is fighting a battle against the illness that took her out of her race car.


Terry is Fine I should tell you right away that Terry sent me a message saying she's going to be fine. She suffered two fractures of her C-2 vertebra and will be wearing what she calls 'a halo'; for the next three months. As soon as the accident happened, I got calls from two other women drivers, asking for details and telling me what they had heard. We are all concerned about Terry and relieved to hear that a full recovery is predicted.


Critical Mass No matter which race series you follow, women drivers get lost in the sea of men behind the wheel. Geoff Bodine, the NASCAR Truck team owner running Tammy Jo Kirk, had to assure fans that, "This isn't a publicity stunt. The driver has proven herself in (other) series." There are so few women drivers that they, frequently, are not taken seriously.


We like to think that the Thunder Valley Racing website is one place where a critical mass of women drivers can be found. The drivers support one another and are supported by a growing base of fans. We add a new driver each month and applaud her achievements. We follow our featured drivers through the racing season and report on their accomplishments. (And we worry, like family, about their injuries.)


Girls and young women (and a growing number of men) are finding their heroes among women race car drivers. There is something special about women athletes competing against the odds, against the men, against the tide of prejudice, and against the confidence-destroying and widely held opinion that they can not be successful.

Dragster Wife Our Driver of the Month for May is Sue Campbell, your typical working housewife who drives her flamed and blown '41 Willys dragster to the supermarket during the week and blows away the competition with it at the drag strip on the weekend.

Harassment We usually try to show the positive side of women in racing, but we all know that there are personal battles to be fought in the pits and on the track. Missy McAllister Kerr sent us a thoughtful letter, which we've reprinted in Distant Thunder, about the problems she has encountered as a woman driver. If you'd like to begin a dialogue with her about this issue, we would welcome your response.

Race Reports Our faithful correspondent, Lisa Devlin, who has shared her Racing Diary with us for almost a year now, is joined this month by Jennifer Tumminelli, who takes us behind the scenes of the PPG Pace Car Team, and by Trish Koger, whose Race Report from the Ocala Speedway makes interesting reading. If you'd like to be a correspondent in future issues, let us know.

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