Editor's Notebook, July 1997
I didn't know Mary Wollesen. I couldn't tell you if she was a happy, fun-loving woman who enjoyed life to the fullest. I couldn't tell you if she had a great marriage with her husband and fellow driver. I do know, though, that she was a member of that small sorority of women who drive race cars.
I watched her race again at the SCCA June Sprints in Elkhart Lake this year. As usual, I scanned the entry lists for women drivers and was pleased to see her named along with her husband as drivers of two Austin Mini-Coopers in the GT-5 class. She was one of the very few women drivers among the five hundred racers competing. I saw her mangled Mini being hoisted off the track, wrapped in a tarp.
|Mary Wollesen was fatally injured when her Austin Mini-Cooper was struck broadside...|
The following Monday, I saw the press release. "A 54-year-old woman was killed Sunday during qualifying for a sports car race at the Road America track. Mary Wollesen of Clarkston, Mich., was fatally injured when her Austin Mini-Cooper was struck broadside by a Chevrolet Camaro after she had spun on the high speed portion of the 4-mile course. Wollesen was an 11-year veteran of SCCA racing. She finished third in the Central Division GT-5 standings last year."
Many people have spun on that high speed portion of the track. The Road America Kink is known around the world as a 'hold-your-breath, here-we-go' piece of terror. I've spun on that high speed portion of the track. I know of others who have died on that high speed portion of the track.
The joy, the freedom, the delight of racing is the absolute knowledge that you can control your car and control yourself through all the 'hold-your-breath' high speed portions of all the tracks. That you can make it through all the 'hold-your-breath' hard braking portions of all the tracks. That you can master all the 'hold-your-breath' high speed straight-aways of all the tracks.
Mary Wollesen was a member of an elite sorority. Whatever other accolades she may have achieved in life, she was a race car driver. I didn't know Mary Wollesen, wife, perhaps mother, perhaps career woman, perhaps home-maker.
But, we all know the Mary Wollesen who experienced the sheer exhilaration of controlling her car and herself through the high speed portion of the track. We lived that exhilaration with her and we mourn her passing.
NASCAR Goody's Dash Team Owner On December 29, 1991, driving a Pontiac Grand Am while drinking, Christina Martin was involved in a street accident which resulted in her becoming a C3-4 quadriplegic. In 1995, Christina owned and managed a NASCAR Goody's Dash Series team that campaigned a Pontiac Grand Am in nineteen races. Christina, now an experienced race team owner, is featured in this month's issue of Distant Thunder. Look for pictures of her and her race team in the Racing Images section of the Thunder Valley Racing web site.
A Trish Double The author of the entertaining Race Reports we've been including in Distant Thunder these past couple of months joins us again this month with a Report from Sebring. We've also introduced her to you as this month's Driver of the Month. Take a look at the feature article and images of Trish Koger, Legends Car Driver.
To Life! The pages of the Thunder Valley Racing web site describe the lives of women race car drivers. Teen age girls, grandmothers, paid professional drivers, Saturday night dirt track amateurs, sports car, stock car, dragster, open-wheel and sedan drivers.
That sorority is special. It grows and lives through the joy and the terror of the shared experience of racing. We celebrate that joy and we grow by overcoming that terror.