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1992 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year, Lyn St. James honored with Spirit of Ford Award

Simona de Silvestro and team owner Beth Paretta react to qualifying 33rd for the 105th the Indianapolis 500. Paretta exclaims "I feel like we climbed a mountain together" and de Silvestro hope it inspires the future.

Lyn St. James was awarded the prestigious Spirit of Ford Award in a surprise ceremony, Saturday May 22, as part of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.

‘Prestigious’ can be an abused adjective whose overuse has caused many to become tone deaf to the word. But if it was ever deserved, this is an instance. St. James is the 27th recipient of the Spirit of Ford prize that was first awarded in 1988 to Bill Stroppe, an early pioneer of auto racing, and has since been awarded to a legends of the sport that include Richard Petty, Mario Andretti, Jackie Stewart, Jim Clark, Glen and Leonard Wood, Jack Roush, Bill Elliott, John Force and AJ Foyt.

St. James was honored as a pioneer and promoter of women and minorities in in the sport.

Her career began in the early 1980s in Trans-Am and IMSA. Among the highlights of her distinguished career are two class wins in the 24 Hours of Daytona, one in the 12 Hours of Sebring, and seven Indy 500 appearances. In 1992 she won the Indy 500 Rookie of Year honors.

Thanks in part to the efforts of St. James and other pioneers like Janet Guthrie, the 105th Running of the Indy 500 has the first-ever pairing of female car owner and driver with Beth Paretta and Simona de Silvestro.

The Spirit of Ford was presented to St. James by Jim Farley, CEO of Ford Motor Company.

“Lyn’s achievements on the track are special, but what she has done off the track is just as important to us in defining her legacy,” said Farley in a release. “Lyn, while racing for us, was also a consumer advisor to Ford on women’s issues, including educating women on the car-buying process and how to maintain their vehicles during their ownership.

“Today, she is channeling the same drive she had in breaking through barriers in her racing career to become a tireless promoter of opportunities for women and minorities in the racing world. And the sport and industry is better for it.”

St. James’ work for diversity continues through NASCAR’s Diversity Council, the ACCUS North American Representative on FIA Women in Motorsports Commission, and part of the ACCUS Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Panel.

Spirit of Ford Award Winners

-Bill Stroppe, 1988
-Bob Glidden, 1989
-Chris Economaki, 1990
-Richard Petty, 1992
-Bob Bondurant, 1993
-Mario Andretti, 1994
-Jackie Stewart, 1994
-Bud Moore, 1995
-Parnelli Jones, 1996
-Jim Clark, 1997
-Phil Hill, 1998
-Stirling Moss, 1998
-Bill France, Sr., 1998
-Bill France Jr. 1998
-Junie Donlavey, Jr., 1999
-Glen Wood, 1999
-Leonard Wood, 1999
-Dan Gurney, 1999
-Denise McCluggage, 2000
-Bill Elliott, 2000
-Carroll Shelby, 2001
-Wally Parks, 2001
-Ned Jarrett, 2003
-Mose Nowland, 2005
-Jack Roush, 2006
-John Force, 2010
-Kevin Kennedy, 2011
-A.J. Foyt, 2017
-Lyn St. James 2021