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!
The leading advocate for women in motorsports, Lyn established the Women in the Winner’s Circle Foundation in 1994 as a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization dedicated to professional development for talented, up-and-coming young women in racing.
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:
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.
For additional information, please contact:
Women’s Sports Foundation
1899 Hempstead Turnpike, Ste 400
East Meadow, NY 11554
The Hagerty Education Program at America’s Car Museum (HEP) is committed to being at the center of a movement that protects our automotive heritage by preserving skills & knowledge and passing them along to the next generations, safeguarding the future of the collector car industry.
Founded in 2005 by Hagerty and formerly known as The Collectors Foundation, HEP is a grant-giving program supporting the pathway to careers for young adults through automotive & marine restoration & preservation education programs, in communities across the United States and Canada.
HEP also funds scholarships through vocational schools and colleges plus paid internships & apprenticeships through master craftsmen’s workshops.
“I started working with the Hagerty Education Program in 2014 and I’m proud to serve as their ambassador. It’s important to create pathways to careers for young adults in restoration and preservation,” Lyn recently explained.
Dedicated to the mission of ensuring that the critical skills and knowledge necessary to restore and preserve collector vehicles are not lost, we are committed to supporting hands-on, career-based training of skills and trades while promoting America’s automotive heritage and the interests of the collector community.
HEP has awarded more than $2.75 million in scholarships and grants since 2005 impacting students, high schools, vocational schools, community colleges, colleges and master craftsmen’s automotive restoration shops. This is the heart of HEP.
For additional information or to apply for a scholarship, please visit the HEP website.
Women In The Winner’s Circle: The Traveling Exhibit
The Women in the Winner’s Circle Foundation has joined forces with The Henry Ford of Dearborn, MI – America’s greatest history attraction – to document the extraordinary history and accomplishments of women in motorsports through the development of an inspirational 1,000 sq. ft. exhibit.
Women have been competing in the world of motor sports since 1901, when Camille du Gast entered the great Paris-Berlin motor race. At a time when it was socially unacceptable that a woman would replace her chauffeur as a driver, du Gast was rewarded with 19th place in the heavy class and 33rd overall out of 47 finishers. While du Gast and later Helle Nice, were the pioneers of women in motor car racing, today women have broken into the male-dominated world of professional racing. Drivers like Danica Patrick and Ashley Force Hood are leading the pack and saying “Here We Are!”
Women in the Winner’s Circle Exhibit Goals
For additional information, please click here to download a brochure about The Traveling Exhibit.
For information about hosting the exhibit at your facility, please contact Christian Overland (ChristianO@thehenryford.com) at The Henry Ford Museum.
The Complete Driver Academy, established in 1994 (and originally named the Lyn St. James Driver Development Program), was the most comprehensive educational and training program of its kind for talented women race drivers who aspired to reach the professional levels of motorsports.
The Academy had a two-fold purpose:
The Academy was comprised of three invitation-only weekend sessions with interim assignments, which participants were expected to complete.
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.
In 2003, Lyn brought together an unprecedented gathering of women race car drivers – past, present and future—for the inaugural Women in the Winner’s Circle Celebration. Joining Lyn, the first event also featured such notable attendees as: Janet Guthrie, Danica Patrick, Shawna Robinson, and Erica Enders.
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 19, 2003 – Colombia Club, downtown Indianapolis, IN
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.
Over the years Lyn been asked to support multiple charitable causes. Here’s a sampling of organizations she’s supported through personal appearances, donations, auction items, etc.
If you have a request for an auction item or appearance to help promote a charitable organization, please complete this form and we will do our best to respond.