Editor's Notebook, August 2001
Great movements are begun with small victories. I’ve been privileged to witness a few such victories recently.
My wife, Susan, and I were at Chicago Motor Speedway when Sara Senske became the first woman driver to stand on a CART-sanctioned podium, with a second place finish in the Barber Dodge race. Jill Peeters sent me a picture of the new SCCA GT-1 car that she and her husband built for her to compete in. Lea Croteau presents a Race Report in this issue of Distant Thunder about her return to racing after reclaiming her maiden name and reorganizing her life and race career.
Little celebrations of small victories in the ever-widening circle of women race car drivers making an impact on the sport.
Sara drove her Lynx-sponsored Barber Dodge like it was on rails. She started on the front row and tucked in behind the pole sitter going into Turn One of the one mile, low banked oval. Sara drove a flawless sixty-five laps in the grueling heat and humidity of Chicago’s west side.
After the race, as Sara held her trophy aloft on the podium, she said, "It's a proud moment for me, as both a woman and a driver. I was accustomed to qualifying up front and running for the win in every series I competed in before this, but it's been a struggle to get back to that level of accomplishment in a series as competitive as this one. I think I'm finally there."
Sara’s podium finish, I know, thrilled her as much as it did her fans. It was a great leap for her career and, as important, it was a step forward for all women in racing.
Jill spends her days and nights working with cars, thinking about cars, talking about cars, and racing cars. She is a professionally trained automotive technician, is married to a race car mechanic, works in the service department of an auto dealership, and drives in SCCA national races.
She’d been driving an ex-everybody GT-1 car for several years and finally took the plunge to build her own GT-1 from the ground up. She sold her old rig and sat out the first half of the 2001 racing season while she and her husband worked nights and weekends (when they weren’t crewing at races) to get her new car ready for competition.
She sent us this photo of her new car, with the comment, "We are almost done and ready for the track. Please forgive my bragging by sending you a photo, but all of you have supported me in my racing and I wanted to share my excitement with you."
Lea had been racing Neons with her husband for a few years. We lost touch with her a year or so ago, except for a sporadic exchange of emails and a note about her change of name. I’ve gone through difficult times in my life and this seemed like a difficult time for Lea.
It was with great pleasure, then, that I received the Race Report and pictures of Lea in her new Spec Racer Ford. Lea is a strong competitor and a terrific person. We all applaud her victory over adversity.
So, we join Sara, Jill, Lea, and all women drivers as you celebrate the great leaps forward in your racing careers. For each of you, the victories are great. For all of us, those victories are cause for little celebrations as we mark new milestones along the route to women’s full participation in auto racing.