In Lyn's own words...
Advocacy means supporting or recommending the support of a particular cause. Any time I lend my name or support of an organization I research their mission and leadership to look for alignment in my beliefs and passions. I’m proud to have been actively engaged with the Women’s Sports Foundation since the 1980’s, including the leadership role of being Past President. I also served as a celebrity ambassador for the RPM and TechForce Foundations, both are doing great work to support the educational pathways for careers as automotive technicians and vehicle restoration and preservation.
It’s not possible to support all the requests I receive from various charities and not-for-profit organizations. I applaud everyone who volunteers and supports their charities of choice, and I try to accommodate the requests with at least an autograph photo or item. As for requests to make personal pro-bono appearances on behalf of a charitable organization, unfortunately I’m not in a position financially do be able to do that, although if the organization has a budget I try to work with them.
Click on a tab below to learn more about the charitable organizations that I’ve been able to help directly, or indirectly.
I became aware of the Women’s Sports Foundation in 1983 when I was invited by Anheuser Busch to attend a gala at The Plaza Hotel in New York City.
At the time, Budweiser was the sponsor of the SCCA Trans Am Series, as well as the cars driven by Willy T. Ribbs and David Hobbs. They were also a supporter of the Women’s Sports Foundation and, being the only woman racing in the Trans Am Series at the time, I guess they thought it would be a good thing to invite a woman racer.
I was blown away by meeting so many amazing female champion athletes that I remember watching on television, including Peggy Flemming and Donna de Varona, as well as others who were just as amazing, but not necessarily as famous. It opened my eyes wide to the challenges and opportunities for women in sports, and gave me a sense of comradery with a group of athletes. I left with a sense of just how much work it would take to move the needle for women in racing.
As I continued to stay in touch with the Foundation, I gladly accepted an invitation to become a member of their Athlete’s Advisory Board. I continued to stay involved and became a member of the Board of Trustees and, in 1990, I was elected President.
It’s been one of the most extraordinary experiences in my life and I’ve learned so much. It’s given me so much pride and satisfaction because I found a way to give back that truly benefits others. One of the highlights was meeting and getting to know Billie Jean King – truly one of my heroes! I remember watching her beat Bobby Riggs in 1973, as so many people do. And besides racing, tennis was the sport I most loved to do.
My work with the Women’s Sports Foundation laid the groundwork for me to use as a model to start the Lyn St. James Foundation (Women in the Winner’s Circle Foundation) in an effort to provide training and advance opportunities for women in racing.
In 2013, it became apparent that my foundation was not growing and no longer sustainable in its present format. So, I decided to reconnect with the Women’s Sports Foundation and merge the Project Podium Grant with the Jump Start Fund that I helped create with a donation from Ford Motor Company in 19XX. It’s like everything has come full circle. I continue to stay involved and urge you to check out the fabulous work they do and donate whatever resources you can.
The Women’s Sports Foundation Annual Salute is an fundraiser (our biggest and most successful) held every October in New York City. I highly recommend it to anyone, especially someone who has daughters, to attend! I’ve only missed one since 1983!
Central to her Foundation was the Women in the Winner’s Circle Academy. Over a number of years, the Academy became the most comprehensive educational and training program of its kind, providing in-depth training of both on and off-track skills. All told, more than 275 women drivers from 33 states and 5 countries – including notables Danica Patrick, Erica Enders, Erin Crocker-Evernham, Melanie Troxel and Sarah Fisher – participated in Lyn’s invitation-only Academy.
As vitally important as the training aspect, St. James recognized the critical need of providing financial resources to these talented drivers. As a result, in 2007, with the support of Paul Newman/Newman’s Own, the Women in the Winner’s Circle Foundation announced the first ever scholarship fund for women race car drivers: Project Podium.
In 2013, the Women in the Winner’s Circle Foundation combined resources with the Women’s Sports Foundation to establish the Women’s Sports Foundation Women in the Winner’s Circle Project Podium Grant. Today, the Women’s Sports Foundation and Lyn share the following vision for the matching-funds grant:
- Increase the number of women winning races and championships in key categories of motorsports
- Enhance the ability of women in racing to gain resources for expanded opportunities
- Create a diverse talent pool in the upper echelon of motorsports
- Highlight racing as a gender-neutral sport and gender-integrated industry
- Empower drivers with ability to generate financial resources to grow and sustain their racing careers
Under the leadership of Lyn St. James, all applications are reviewed by a panel of motorsports experts and business professionals.
Interested in lending your support? Donate now to the Women’s Sports Foundation’s Women in the Winner’s Circle Project Podium Grant to ensure that women in racing continue achieving success.
Interested in applying for a scholarship? Click here for the application.
This grant would not be possible without the help of the following: Lady Eagle, The Joie of Seating, iRacing.com, Arciero Miller Racing, and Pirelli Tires. Other Project Podium partners include: Tudor United SportsCar Championship, NHRA Championship Drag Racing, Rolex, Newman’s Own, Toyota, Mazda, and Mike Helton.
- Identify potential champion women drivers who have demonstrated success on the track and have a desire to pursue a career in professional motorsports; and
- Create an experience that will provide the tools to further women drivers’ careers in motorsports as well as enhance their lives on and off the track.
The Academy was comprised of the following:
Session One: Physical and Mental Preparation
This session focused on the physical and mental preparation required of a champion driver. Drivers experienced a physical workout and learned how to develop an effective fitness plan. They underwent physical testing to create a baseline for improvement. The group gained knowledge in preparing the mind for competition and received MindShaper™ Software to use as a tool in improving mental skills such as focus, concentration, and reaction time.
Session Two: Business Seminars and Media Training
Participants received training in various aspects of working with the media, including being interviewed, writing press releases, and making speeches. This session also included seminars on “The Business of Racing” and “The Brand YOU” including topics on sponsorship and financial planning. The prerequisite for Session Two was completion of Session One and an invitation from Lyn St. James.
Session Three: On Track and Technical
This session included time on-track and focusing on the technical aspects of the sport. Drivers gained seat time in a variety of vehicles and were able to demonstrate skills learned in the mental prep part of Session One. Academy staff had an opportunity to observe the participants skill and demeanor in a track situation. The prerequisite for Session Three was completion of Sessions One and Two, and an invitation from Lyn St. James.
Hundreds of talented and gifted women drivers attended The Complete Driver Academy. Please click here to view a listing of alumni.
Subsequent celebrations were attended by a long list of motorsports dignitaries and VIPs all from the world’s top motorsports leagues – ARCA, IndyCar, NASCAR, NHRA and USAC – including: Bobby Rahal, Eddie Cheever, IMSA’s Don Panoz, NASCAR’s Mike Helton, NHRA’s Tom Compton, Goodyear’s Leo Mehl and Stu Grant, Ford Racing’s Jamie Allison, Chevrolet Racing’s Jim Campbell and Alba Colon, IMS President Doug Boles, Chris Paulsen of C&R Racing, USAC’s Kevin Miller, IED Rollie Helmling, JMI founder Zak Brown, ISC’s Joie Chitwood and John Saunders, Pirelli Tires’ Tom Gravalos, Toyota’s Les Unger, Mazda’s John Doonan and many more…
"The advancement and promotion of women in the motorsports industry is critical," said Lyn. "Not just as competitors – and top-level performers – but as engineers, team managers, owners and in other leadership positions. To reach this goal, there must be more support, more encouragement, more research, more development and more awareness."
The annual event spanned a decade (2003-2012) and was held in prominent locations, including:
May 24, 2004 – University of Indianapolis Schwitzer Student Center
August 4, 2005 – University of Indianapolis Schwitzer Student Center
August 3, 2006 – Indianapolis Motor Speedway Plaza Village Pavilion
July 26, 2007 – Indianapolis Motor Speedway Plaza Village Pavilion
July 24, 2008 – Indianapolis Motor Speedway Plaza Village Pavilion
July 23, 2009 – Indianapolis Motor Speedway Plaza Village Pavilion
February 10, 2010 – Daytona 500 Experience
September 1, 2011 – Don Schumacher Racing (Brownsburg, IN)
December 7, 2012 – Indiana Convention Center
The events typically began with a VIP Reception featuring industry leaders, a silent auction and a Grand March showcasing the champion drivers in attendance. Please click here for a listing of annual award recipients.
- AAPAR (American Association for Physical Activity and Recreation)
- Alzheimer’s Association
- Arizona Women’s Leadership Forum
- Boys and Girls Clubs
- Cancer Support Community Arizona (formerly Wellness Community)
- Car Clubs (supporting various specific charities)
- Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
- Fresh Start of Phoenix
- Girls, Inc. of Indianapolis
- International Motorsports Research Center
- International Wildlife Conservation Society
- Legal Aid Marin County
- Make a Wish
- O’var Coming Together for Ovarian Cancer
- RPM Foundation
- RRDC (Road Racers Driver’s Club)
- Southern Automotive Women’s Forum
- Speedway Children’s Charities
- The Henry Ford