Q&A WITH CINDI LUX
12-Time Road Racing Champion
What moments represented a milestone, stepping stone, or shift in your racing career?
Cindi Lux: I started racing in 1987. My first factory affiliation was with Team Mitsubishi in 1991. Looking back, it is pretty unbelievable it all took place that quickly. But, probably because I was so new to it all, I didn’t appreciate it or capitalize on this as much as I should have. We won two 24-hour races but I was super green and the slowest driver on the team. I learned a lot but looking back, I think about all that I could have done with that program if I knew what I would learn the next few years. The biggest step that got the ball rolling was the Women’s Global GT Series (WGGTS). It was an all-female race series run by the American Le Mans Series. When I won the title in the championship’s first year, 1999, it led directly to a seat in the Petit Le Mans the next two seasons driving the G&W Porsche. That attention earned me the connections to work with KUMHO Tire in SCCA racing where I won the June Sprints in a Corvette. That drew the attention of Dodge which started a relationship that is still ongoing and includes stints racing for Mopar in Pirelli World Challenge with a Viper Comp Coupe, returning Viper to the ALMS with the Comp Coupe and now in the Trans Am Series where we race the Dodge Viper ACR-X. It really all got rolling with the WGGTS title.
One key for me is that I have owned my own business since 1999. That allowed me the time off for racing a lot from 1999 to 2007 to focus on my early career.
How would you summarize the projection of your career?
Cindi Lux: For me, like a lot of kids, my love of racing and my career started with my dad. He was a great racer and won Portland’s first Rose Cup race driving a Ferrari Testa Rossa. When I lived in LA, we went to Long Beach Grand Prix together. But, that was as much support as they [my parents] gave me. They didn’t want to feed the racer in me quite that much. So, when I got one of my first pay checks from Toyota Motor Sales USA in Torrance in my role as an inventory analyst, I bought my first racecar. I started racing at Willow Springs in an old clapped-out Dodge Shelby Charger purchased from Paul Rossi of the drag racing fame. Living in LA, I didn’t have a shop to keep my car in so I had to rent a storage unit that didn’t allow cars and I had to sneak it in late at night.
I was so bad the first five years of my career. I would get lapped twice in a 45-minute race. I couldn’t really afford a coach to help so I just had to study everything I could. I also knew I had to figure out the business side of things too. When I went to work with Team Mitsubishi, Dave Wolin, who owned it, pounded this side of the sport into my head. Driving the car was the “easy” part; getting sponsors is what kept it going. You have to learn that it isn’t just a sign on the car but it is the total package of promotions.
But even THAT wasn’t the great thing to come from my tenure with Team Mitsubishi; I met my best friend, Fred Lux there. It truly was love at first sight. He was and is still currently so instrumental in my career. Very simply put, I would not be in this position without his wonderful technical knowledge of racecar setup and also giving great advice. Since 1995, he has been at my side.
On the business side, I am the Director of Ford Racing School. I’ve been commuting twice per month for nine years to Miller Motorsports Park. That got to be a handful and I stepped out of the seat more than I would have liked. But, this year, we finally returned to the national scene with a partial season racing in the Trans Am Series. We are prepping to take on the full championship in 2016.
What do you see as a pinnacle(s) of your career, and/or what is your projected goal?
Cindi Lux: I guess a lot of people would expect me to say that the pinnacle of my career thus far would be one of the 12 championships or racing in the Pirelli World Challenge. And those are huge for me. Those are very special moments.
But, as a driver, I think I would have to say it was being named a factory driver for Dodge, then Mopar, then SRT. There is something very special when you are named to such a prestigious role. I am usually pretty humble but when those announcements came through, I wanted to shout it from the roof tops! The honor of driving the factory Mopar entry as an official Mopar works driver in the World Challenge was huge! It will always be one of the highlights of career, of my life.
How do you see or saw the arc of your racing career being affected by your gender vs. your male counterparts?
Cindi Lux: I never let my gender play a role in things. I guess a lot of people would think I am nuts but I don’t use it as an excuse – ‘poor me, the boys are ganging up on me’ – or as a tool. I have never played the gender card in getting cash. I believe you push as hard as you can but you play the game fairly. Racers, male or female, have problems getting funding. So there is no difference in that. I have never had a problem on or off track by my men competitors. There have been times, I know, I could have played it up but it is just a non-issue to me. Ultimately, the car doesn’t know who is steering the ship. So gender doesn’t matter. But what does matter is hauling ass to the finish line in a clean and professional way.