Delayed due to the ongoing pandemic, this past weekend, Lyn St. James was inducted into the Sebring Hall of Fame. From the Sebring Legends Facebook page:
My first ever road racing was as a spectator at the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring in the early 1970’s. I’ve been hooked on it ever since. Daytona and Sebring became annual treks after I moved to South Florida. I became a member of SCCA and got my regional competition license in 1974. My goal was to be able to race in these two historical and amazing endurance races.
Since I didn’t own a racing car nor a race team, it required finding teams who will put you in their driver line-up. I was fortunate that my then-husband owned a race-prepared Corvette, so in 1978 I was able to fill in for him and race his Corvette at Sebring along with local racers Phil Currin and Luis Sereix. Most of the year was spent working to try to line up a drive in either, or both, Daytona and Sebring. I was successful in putting together a deal in 1979 in Preston Henn’s 1969 Ferrari 365GTB (driving along with Janet Guthrie and Bonnie Henn, Preston’s daughter). Then in 1980 , then race promoter/team owner Charles Mendez paired me with Ralph Kent Cook in one of his 935 Porsche Turbos. What a trip that was!
In 1981 I was successful in getting a sponsorship deal with the Ford Motor Company for the IMSA Kelly American Challenge Series, but they had no interest or opportunity for me at Daytona or Sebring, so I continued to pursue drives. In 1983 I had a great run in the Aston Martin Nimrod Prototype, co-driving with Reggie Smith and Drake Olsen, where we finished 5th overall, 3rd in class. It wasn’t until my seventh time, in 1990 when I was on the podium with co-drovers Robby Gordon and Calvin Fish in a Roush Mercury Cougar – finishing 1st in GTO/6th overall. I know many drivers are never fortunate enough to win, so I stand on the shoulders of my teammates and crew members.
When I was contacted that I was being inducted into the Sebring Hall of Fame, I was shocked because the above record really isn’t what I would call Hall of Fame material. But that’s not for me to decide. Seeing my name on a plaque on the Sebring Hall of Fame wall, along with so many of my heroes, and one of my SHEroes, Denise McCluggage, is one of the proudest moments of my life.
Because of COVID the induction ceremony was reduced to a pre-race presentation at the start-finish line, and unfortunately the other living inductees (Janet Guthrie and Dick Barbour) were not willing to travel. Bruce McLaren’s induction was accepted by the great David Hobbs, who knew Bruce well and who said he was at the track when Bruce was killed. One of the highlights was this year’s Grand Marshal was Mario Andretti, who was being celebrated in honor of the 50th anniversary of his 1970 victory. Another highlight was being able to have a ride around the course and see all the improvements that have been made to the track. And in spite of COVID there were a tremendous number of fans spread around the circuit, mostly in motor homes. Sebring International Raceway is alive and well, under the leadership of my old friend Wayne Estes. It was like a welcome home celebration for me.