Join us as we welcome motor sports legend Lyn St. James, one of the most successful female racecar drivers in history, to our virtual stage. St. James made her official racing debut in 1974 during one of the most disruptive decades in US history – and now, nearly fifty years later, she has just been inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame during yet another period of extreme volatility. In this session, St. James offers her perspective on the similarities of modern society and the cultural climate of the 1970s, and what to expect in the years ahead.
St. James also shares highlights from her storied career beginning with her official debut in 1974 when her car spun off the track and landed in a lake, to her retirement in 2001. She will discuss her experience of being just one of nine women to have qualified for the Indianapolis 500 and what it was like to win the Rookie of the Race award during her first ever Indy 500 at the age 45, which to date, makes her the oldest driver to ever win that award.
Since her retirement, St. James has continued to remain a popular and influential figure in the world of car racing. In 1994, she founded the Women in the Winner’s Circle Foundation, which promotes women leaders in the automotive and motorsports industries. Additionally, she created the Women’s Sports Foundation Project Podium Scholarship Grant, has written two memoirs, and travels the world giving motivational speeches.
During this dynamic conversation, St. James talks about the current state of car racing including the impact women have had on the sport, the art of car collecting, and how electric cars will transform race car driving and the automotive industry in the decades to come.
About Diane Fitzgerald
Diane Fitzgerald’s background with cars, motorcycles, not-for-profits and small businesses is extensive. It is only exceeded by her passion for the car culture…well, vehicle culture because that includes motorcycles and scooters.
Touring, buying & selling, collecting, restoring and driving are all part of that passion. Mentoring is, too. Along the way, opportunities to work in the collector car industry were too good to pass up!
Diane is an avid microcar and motorcycle enthusiast and has travelled the world by two-, three- and four-wheels, often to exotic places like Vietnam, Brazil, Ethiopia, Thailand, Botswana, Japan, Turkey, Bhutan and India. In between her active hobbyism, Diane used her two Visual Arts degrees and one MBA to build her world that blended the experiences of corporate, small business and not-for profits. Fruit of the Loom, Andersen Consulting, Lotus Tours, The Habitat Company and Marwen Foundation each provided lots of experience in new business development, project management, marketing & communications, operations and fundraising. Almost 20 years on the Boards of car museums and car clubs fueled her passion for the hobby.
As president of Lotus Tours, an international motorcycle touring company owned and operated by Diane and her husband Burt Richmond, she managed the operations & logistics side of the business with a Chicago-based team. Their Milan, Italy garage stored their fleet and staged the beginning point of their European tours. When she wasn’t planning tours in the United States and Central America, she was leading groups on Ducatis and Hondas in The Alps, Tuscany, Corsica & Sardinia, The Pyrenees of Spain & France and on special C-level motorcycle tours in the United States.
Notably, Diane Fitzgerald was the president of the RPM Foundation for many years, an entity of America’s Automotive Trust. The RPM Foundation is a services providing, resource sharing, grant-giving organization that accelerates the growth of the next generation of automotive Restoration and Preservation craftsmen through formal training and Mentorship.
So, what’s in the garage? Their collection is mostly vintage microcars and motorcycles and numbers about 39, although that’s defied with a 1949 MG TC, 1953 Studebaker, 1964 Corvair and 1974 BMW. Just added to the collection is a 1992 Mazda Miata that is giving the BMW a lot of weekend-driving competition.
Diane & Burt live in a landmark home in historic Old Town Chicago, which they fully renovated to its 1882 glory. It is one of the several commercial and residential historic restoration projects they have tackled over the years. Heritage is in their blood.