Take a moment to read with Ted Gushue’s Q & A with Lyn for Petrolicious, excerpted here:
Despite her successful career as celebrated activist and orator, to pigeonhole Lyn St. James as a feminist would completely undersell so much of her tremendous life story, and why she chose to compete in motorsport from the beginning. It wasn’t to prove a point or to forward any sort of agenda; it was a pure and simple desire to drive as fast as possible as often as possible.
In my opinion, Lyn St. James isn’t just a hero for women, she’s a hero for all of us. She woke up one day and found a way to get her butt on a track to drive. Not just as a woman, but as an enthusiast, which lead her all the way to Le Mans. It was a real honor to sit down with her at the Arizona Concourse the other day, and I’m very pleased to be able to share that conversation with you.
Ted Gushue: So Lyn, what was the first car you ever drove?
Lyn St. James: The first car I ever drove was my family car. It was a Ford Fairlane convertible. It was my dad’s too, but it was my mom’s car, basically. That was the first car I ever drove.
TG: Were you legally allowed to drive?
LSJ: No. My mom taught me how to drive when I was 15. I used to work at a summer resort. When the summer was over, that resort was desolate. It was like a ghost town. She would let me drive around those streets because she knew there was no traffic.
TG: Was driving the car a momentous occasion for you? Was it a big deal?
LSJ: The car wasn’t a big deal, driving was the big deal. I remember the policeman, or whatever, when I took my test said, “You seem awfully confident.” Because literally, on my 16th birthday, I was more than ready. I said, “A little bit.” I was like, “Give me my license. I’m out of here.” It wasn’t about the car. It was just the driving.
TG: Had you always grown up in a car family? How did you know you had some sort of destiny to be in the automotive world?
LSJ: I never knew I was destined. Never, really, until it all came to fruition. My mom had polio as an infant, as a three-year-old. Even though she could walk, she couldn’t walk very well or very confidently or very far. For her, a car was everything. Without knowing that this was probably having an impact on me – and I was an only child – it was to the point of almost being boring. My mom and that car always had to be in the driveway. She knew a lot about cars, taught me about them; I had to learn how to check the oil, I had to learn how to check the air in the tires, things like that.