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A woman’s place

March 28, 2022

The recent death of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright got me thinking about women. Young women, old women, lower, middle, upper class women, educated and formally uneducated women. Women of color and women without any color. 

When I broke into the motorsports world as editor of IMSA’s Arrow newsletter in 1974, the only working women I saw around me were Judy Stropus and Sylvia Wilkinson. Both were doing timing and scoring. This was before computers were on every pit stand. Instead, there were women – and the occasional man – writing down the time of each car and subtracting from the previous lap to get the lap time. Or they were marking the car numbers each time they came around on either a road-street or oval track, to keep a lap chart.

I learned to do those chores myself, even before I went to work with IMSA. It was a good foot in the door, even though we weren’t allowed all the way inside the room. No women were permitted in media centers and precious few in the garages of racing competitions. We were privileged to be on those timing stands. At the time, women couldn’t have their own credit cards, buy cars and houses, and had to ask their husbands for permission for just about anything.

If you know me, you know that’s not my style. When I was chosen by John Bishop to do editorial, circulation, production and advertising on the Arrow newsletter, I was a one-Anne band. A relative of Bishop’s thought this was great for “women’s liberation” activities that were just beginning to be used to gain the rights we are all enjoying today.

And today? Women are in race engineering, women are on race crews, a woman leads Firestone’s racing tire operations, women are winning races against men, particularly in NHRA’s Camping World Drag Racing Series. As four-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders profoundly notes, “The car doesn’t know if it’s a man or woman driving it.” Or engineering it. Or deciding which compound of tire the entire field will be using. Or writing and photographing motorsports, which is what I do these days.

We’ve come a long way baby but the basic human rights of women in all facets of life are being challenged. Every day. It’s not enough to be dealing with physical deformities or disabilities, without having them mocked, as comedian Chris Rock did during the Oscar telecast on Sunday. 

Somehow we have to be stronger than the men who mock us. Somehow we have to prevail in fights that would have us return to the 1950s, when the scenarios stated above were prevalent. A time when abortions were performed with wire hangers, when women walked two steps behind their husbands. 

The above scenarios might seem primitive to a younger generation but they are being revived all around the country by insecure men who won’t have women operating in the same wheelhouse. Let’s hope this imperialistic misogyny doesn’t spread back to racing. I don’t think I can keep a lap chart anymore – that ship has sailed!

By Anne Proffit

From → Uncategorized

One Comment
  1. Actually i never could keep one straight, i was better at dusting off and duck taping noses.

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