Lyn St. James, professional race car driver, advocate for women, and the first woman to win the Indianapolis 500’s Rookie of the Year award (1992), on her 1990 Mazda MX-5 Miata, as told to A.J. Baime.
In the spring of 1990, I was at a racing function in Columbus, Ohio, and the guy who was hosting said, “Hey, do you want to see my new baby?” I said, “Sure.” We went out in his garage and there it was, this little red sports car. I had never seen or heard of a Miata before. I asked if I could sit in it and when I did, I put my left hand on the steering wheel and my right on the shifter. I said to myself, “It just feels right.”
Soon after, I started seeing billboards and print advertisements. Mazda’s motto for the new car was, “It just feels right.” Total coincidence. At the time, I was under contract to race with Ford Motor Co. , and so I always had Ford cars. I didn’t need a new car, but I bought one anyway—a Miata from its very first model year.
There wasn’t anything like the Miata at the time—a new, small, two-seat convertible sports car. And this one hit every mark. It had cool styling, it was affordable, it had durability, performance, and economy. I was living in South Florida and it was a perfect place to drive with the top down. Though it had a small four-cylinder, it was a double overhead cam engine. The car loved to go fast. I definitely got some tickets. It was the kind of car that made you want to go into your garage so you could say good night to it.