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Women Set the Pace in Mid-June. And the Pace Was Pretty Quick!

ProFormance’s annual women’s driving event had old friends checking in, and new drivers becoming fast friends with the sport.

One thing ProFormance racing school is serious about (apart from safety and instruction quality) is the effort to welcome women into the sport. Back when the school opened, women comprised a small part of the clientele. These days quite a few women take the One-Day High Performance Driving Experience, with many going on to become enthusiastic track drivers. Our annual Women Setting the Pace days – the event has expanded from one day to two – celebrates the contribution of women to motorsport, and also encourages women to explore their potential on the road. It is one of the school’s most popular events.

Lyn St. James: Indy winner and all-round inspiration

Lyn St. James at ProFormance Racing School
IndyCar driver Lyn St. James
Photo credit: Arsenio Locsin

This year’s Women Setting the Pace celebration saw the return of Lyn St. James as speaker. The first woman to win Rookie of the Year at the Indianapolis 500, Lyn competed in many Indy races, and held 21 international and national speed records over a career spanning three decades. She spoke to a captivated crowd about her experiences racing in a male-dominated sport.

A noted motivational speaker and advocate for women in racing, Lyn recounted the lowlights as well as the highlights of her career, including her first ever race, which ended in her first-ever race car* submerged in a South Florida lake. A lot of people would have given up there, but Lyn persevered, and much of her talk was on how she buckled down and confronted the opposing forces that were endemic to the sport back then. The audience greeted her advice and encouragement with enthusiasm and much applause.

All participants received copies of Lyn’s book, An Incredible Journey, which documents her impressive career and the manner in which she surmounted the many challenges that faced (and continue to face) women competition drivers.

A day to excel

The first day of the event introduced novices to the world of high-performance driving, with exercises to hone their reactions and increase their skills. The afternoon comprised a vigorous lapping session in which instructors coached participants and helped them make the most of their newfound skills.

The second day, for experienced performance drivers, consisted of a day of lapping. Many drivers reported that having an all-women field added to the excitement. There were also thrill rides available both days in an Aston Martin Vantage courtesy of Park Place LTD.

Generation to generation

Mother-daughter teams were an especially encouraging feature of Women Setting the Pace 2023. One mother passing on her enthusiasm to the next generation was Alisa Scott, who claimed that her daughter Kerissa, “had the time of her life” and “had no idea how wonderful it could be.” They are planning a return trip in 2024.

Beth and Rebecca Rogers: An inherited need for speed

Rebecca Rogers is another fairly recent convert to the sport, a solo lapper who got her track license last year. When she learned about Women Setting the Pace, she encouraged her mother Beth Rogers to come out from Michigan and enjoy a unique experience.

Beth is no stranger to the allure of fast cars. “My first car, which I got in the 1970s, was an RX-7. My parents were not happy. A girl was not supposed to have a fast sports car.” She claims Rebecca inherited her mother’s love of cars, helped along by the 1966 Sting Ray she and her husband had when Rebecca was little. Beth and her husband were into British sports cars, but once the kids were grown up and out of the house, a Boxter moved in.

“It was very nice seeing these women getting the chance to do something like this. You don’t see it very often.” Beth is certainly considering coming out to Washington for next year’s event.

See you next year at Women Setting the Pace!

In fact, “I’m coming back next time” was probably the most-heard phrase at the event. At ProFormance and on tracks everywhere, women are setting the pace, and the pace, it appears, is picking up fast.

Main photo credit: Arsenio Locsin

*The good news is that she wasn’t hurt and the car that sank was a Pinto.

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