AMELIA ISLAND, Fla., May 22, 2021 – Lyn St. James, a pioneer in sports car and Indy car racing who has since become a tireless promoter for opportunities for women and minorities in the sport, was presented the prestigious Spirit of Ford Award in a surprise ceremony today as part the 26th annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.
The Spirit of Ford Award is Ford Motor Company’s highest honor in auto racing, recognizing lifetime achievement and contribution to the industry both on and off the race track. St. James becomes the 27th recipient, joining an international list of honorees from all forms of racing and racing media.
St. James began her professional racing career with Ford in the early 1980s, competing in more than 100 SCCA Trans-Am and IMSA races. She won her class twice at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring once, and became the first and only woman to win an IMSA GT sports car race solo in 1985 at Watkins Glen.
She went on to run the Indianapolis 500 seven times, including being the first woman to win Rookie of the Year honors in 1992. St. James held 21 international and national closed circuit speed records for women over a 20-year period, including 225.722 mph during qualifying for the 1995 Indy 500.
She was recognized during a tribute dinner in her honor at Amelia Island by Jim Farley, CEO of Ford Motor Company.
“Lyn’s achievements on the track are special, but what she has done off the track is just as important to us in defining her legacy,” said Farley. “Lyn, while racing for us, was also a consumer advisor to Ford on women’s issues, including educating women on the car-buying process and how to maintain their vehicles during their ownership.
“Today, she is channeling the same drive she had in breaking through barriers in her racing career to become a tireless promoter of opportunities for women and minorities in the racing world. And the sport and industry is better for it.”
“Lyn has always been an exceptional advocate for Ford, and I’m proud to call her a friend,” said Edsel B. Ford II, who has been involved in Ford’s racing efforts for decades. “I have always been impressed by how hard she worked to be a successful driver. She has worked just as hard to give so many young drivers the same kind of mentorships that she had in her career. Lyn is a very worthy honoree of the Spirit of Ford Award.”
Automotive News named St. James one of the Top 100 Women in the Automotive Industry, and Working Woman Magazine named her one of “The 350 Women who changed the world between 1976-96.” She also was president of the Women’s Sports Foundation, and founder of Women in the Winner’s Circle Foundation, a 501c3 organization for the education, training, and advancement of women in automotive fields. This included her hosting training sessions for up-and-coming women race car drivers for many years.
Currently, she is part of NASCAR’s Diversity Council, the A.C.C.U.S. North American Representative on FIA Women in Motorsports Commission, and part of the A.C.C.U.S. Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Panel.
Spirit of Ford Award Winners