Current Video:Wind Tunnel: Lyn St. James|
The former IRL 500 rookie of the year, Lyn St. James talks to Dave Despain about her time as a race car driver in a world dominated by men and what Danica's chances of surviving in the NASCAR bubble will be.
Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)
The 1980 scored several significant sports car referees including two in the 44 hours of Daytona. In the ninety's she took a crack at Indy car race -- the race and she was easy 500 rookie of the year. Finishing eleventh in 1992. Also founder of the women winner's circle foundation she remains active in the promotion. Of women in racing and the pleasure to welcome her to win total tonight. Well and thanks -- your job by -- -- you have been too long are you doing. It has stuck -- thinks they're great. Let's start with a big picture from. Women have been prominent in racing for years. You and Janet Guthrie -- ball -- your -- -- Schmidt and categories and Jimmy Kirk of the list goes on and on. You all convinced me that by now 2000 Jan. There would be so many women not just driving where scores the winning races winning championships that we wouldn't even notice this anymore wouldn't be a big deal. And clearly that is not what's happened with the obvious exception of drivers and so you tell me. How you feel about the progress in general a female racers. Well the progress has been good not as good as I wish it had been as you just common -- and -- not for the lack of talent but you know they're still all only so many top seats available. In just about any type of bracing it mean even drag racing even though Mora had been successful Blair but. There's only so many seats. Is a lot of guys vying for those seats and so it's we just don't have the depth yeah how many. For every guy that's out there there's ten Swanee that are as good as that driver. For every female driver that maybe get an opportunity like Danica there's not ten -- wanting that could take those -- there's maybe. Maybe a handful -- I would say that are that are as talented but maybe don't have enough experience so. It's that grassroots level that we still have to have more experience more depth of opportunities with good rides so that when they get -- good ride their hot at the top level they're ready and that's what I'm not about -- say as much as of about training. In I -- my driver development program I started at fifteen years ago it's mostly off track training as the physical fitness mental preparation. Media training that's all the stuff that you've got to know. On to beat you know to be ready when you do get that opportunity so -- Danica came through our program when she was fourteen and came back when she was sixteen and we've had over 250 drivers come from 38 states in five countries so. You know that's I'm working on the behind the scenes stuff trying to make the drivers. Aware of what they need to know and how they need to prepare themselves for success. I editorialized long time ago that I thought racing might be the first sport in which. The first big sport in which women could truly compete on a level playing field them you don't have to be three -- -- muscle like you know info where to drive a race car. So. What pair -- kept. Girls and young women from getting involved to the degree that they need to to build up that there's no -- that foundation none bigger talkin' about. Is it it is or something holding. Women back in terms of their numbers in the sport. Well the numbers are growing I mean I think it's twenty to 30% a quarter midget racers and go Kart racers but you know it's gonna take us awhile before they get hold enough I frankly. That the most promising and the twelve and thirteen and fourteen year old that I see -- main. When Danica came through when she was fourteen which is what thirteen years ago on she was really extraordinary at that time as far as her talent and she was probably one of the youngest that I've ever seen in the that I took through now. I'm getting applications from 9101112. Year old and in the last class we just had a sixteen drivers on over 80% of them were under sixteen years of age so. So what's happened is they are getting I mean they're younger there's more of them at that age but we're not seeing them yet at the top level so I think we're about five years out before we're gonna get. More depth and experience. At the very top level where of the drivers remain on I think I can make reference to a -- now Jessica -- -- Actually Freiburg or Natalie federally whose only fourteen years old but it's gonna be years but few years before they actually reach that peak. And then there's more coming behind them some. Unfortunately it it isn't happen this fast it's just taken a slow wildly different. So -- tell me your reaction to Danica mania. Well first of all money I watched every lap does it she second Daytona and I thought she did it. A really good job there I mean I remember the first time under the stock car at Talladega in 1988 in the two different animals to defending the to drive. I did not get a chance to see her race. At at California -- actually I was out at firebird watching the drag racers you know but I mean that you know part of this Davis said. I don't know it's hard to put a perspective on it but it's like the media complaints about the fact that there's this that a Canadian yet if the media that keeps it out promoting the Danica and so. You know she I I can't it's like she's a race car driver I've known her for many years. She is a race car driver through and through it and I know that she wants to race she wants to win. At the same time you know she's attractive and there's all this other stuff happening the society has caught up and you know -- in the sort of celebrity. Mindset now are we to we we -- celebrities out of people litter you know just not celebrities and all of them are really dissecting all celebrity -- I don't I don't even know how to put -- perspective on I'm sorry we did but I -- so she's a race car driver -- races and I wanted to win I wondered if that's. -- it's complicated on -- Right or not that that's a good friend we all agree on that complicated -- let me give you an example why. She gets opportunities but other drivers don't in part because she's attractive and sexy but what my point that out. I get accused of being sexist here's the email. It says those sounds like you're saying she doesn't belong to flush it said about Janet Guthrie same sexism. But more politically correct the opinion regarding -- Dodgers with regard somewhere in North Dakota. Yeah -- remember -- the term sexist pig was coined to describe people who treat women as sex objects through generations later. Godaddy.com makes the business of portray women as sex objects more -- point that out on the water pure stupid sexist. At that strikes me I. I wanna make. I'll make a comment about the fact that I mean she -- she has earned the opportunity. To be in that race car and for every guy that gets the opportunity to be in a race card there are at least -- funny. That aren't getting the opportunity sure so it's really no different when she gets that versus you know you don't doggone well I mean I can go down the list of drivers. In NASCAR that have never won in the nationwide -- I have never won in the in the truck series and have never won a cup Q and yet you're in and year out they're still in the seat. So -- you know twice -- you know -- it shouldn't charge she's learned I think she's got a reasonably good job. And I think she's good if so long as she gets better Wilson -- we're all just gonna get to watch and see all along this plays out but. You know I just think that part of it is not right because for everybody gets a spot. So there's at least a dozen or more the don't get the spot so to -- to the brunt of that other stuff I'll let you handle the other stuff. I -- -- your but it helped. -- to the broader question what is your best advice for a girl or young woman in America who wants to be -- race what should they do. Other than obviously go through your program. Well I mean really it's this I until everybody you know do the go -- starts there because that's a great foundation. On and you know make sure that if you're doing it for the right reasons. Met and you know race long race hard. At the same time you know you're gonna crash are gonna have a really bad some bad times and that if you can cut through that and still have -- be the absolute. Passion than the inner soul of what you wanna do. To the exclusion of everything else even though you still have to go to school and you still have to do other things that you know that are responsible. On then you know hang in there and work hard but -- be physically prepared if you're not physically fit. If you're not mentally sharp and mentally I'll be able to concentrate have long term -- short term memory and have all those skills and practice them. If you are willing to do the work. Off the track it and learn how to write your own bio learn how to give an interview learn the business for the sport. Then it's probably not something you're going to be successful with professionally -- doesn't mean you shouldn't racist. -- race as an amateur and have fun but that today the complete driver takes such. You know has such high standards that you have to have an every category and don't ever let anybody do something that you're not comfortable with find out who you are. So that you know who you're what your brand is what your personality -- -- and try to align yourself with companies who sponsors and teams that are going to be you know consistent with them. And I assume the faster we can make -- up with a better. I don't know women racing so really -- right to bring about sexism -- engines the entire fight appreciate that suits your dog that.