Lyn St. James Loves to Drive Her Miata Like It’s the Indianapolis 500


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.



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