Lyn St. James
Begins Racing Career
St. James began competing in local Sports Car Club of America events in 1973. She experienced a bad beginning in racing, having spun into a pond at Palm Beach International Raceway with a Ford Pinto that was her street car, and escaped from her car about eight seconds before it sank. She rebounded to win Florida regional championships in 1976 and 1977. In her first pro season, 1979, she finished eighth, and came in second in the Kellygirl Challenge series.
Having read about Ford Motor Company's attempts to market its products to women, St. James lobbied hard for the motor company to sponsor her career. Ford signed her in 1981 and, although she sometimes raced poorly, she traveled extensively to speak on the company's behalf. "For a good while she was far more successful at that than she was at driving," Sports Illustrated wrote in 1993. "Five years passed before she won her first race, at Elkhart Lake, Wis. (in 1985)" Then came the breakthrough victory at Watkins Glen that same year.