Women Drivers Prove They Can Race With the Boys
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 2, 2004) -- When Milka Duno won the Grand Prix of Miami with co-driver Andy Wallace last month, she was not the only woman competing in the Rolex Sports Car Series race. Liz Halliday finished on the podium with co-driver Kevin Buckler in the GT class, while Mae Van Wijk competed in the SGS class with Armando Trentini. Next weekend, all three women will again vie for a spot in Victory Lane, this time in the Food City 250 at Phoenix International Raceway, April 10.
Duno, who will drive the Howard-Boss Motorsports No. 2 CITGO Ponitac Crawford, became not only the first woman to capture an overall Rolex Series win with her historic victory at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, but also the first female to score an overall victory in a major North American professional sports car race.
"It was very exciting winning the Grand Prix of Miami," commented Duno. "Andy and I, together with the CITGO and the Howard-Boss Motorsports crews, have been working very hard to be competitive, and the win at Miami was the result of all of us working very hard."
Halliday stood on the podium in just her first Rolex Series race after she and Buckler finished third in the GT class driving The Racer's Group No. 67 Porsche GT3 RS.
"To be on the podium at my first Grand American race and the first time that Kevin and I have raced as a team, was a fantastic feeling," Halliday explained. "To be honest, it exceeded our expectations for the first race, and we will keep working hard to be on the podium at all the races this season!"
In a sport historically dominated by men, many could think that being one of only three women in the Rolex Series might be hard. Halliday does not think so.
"I have actually always liked the idea of being one of not many women in the sport of motor racing," she said. "So many other sports are male and female separated, and it makes success feel that much more rewarding when we are all equal and fighting for the same win."
"I feel that people sometimes make too big of an issue about women drivers," she said. "It really doesn't matter if you are a man or a woman. If you decide to become a race car driver, you become a driver, not a woman driver or a male driver, just a driver. When I put on my race suit, I am simply a driver that wants to compete to the best of my ability and to race and to win. "
So are there any advantages to being a woman in the Rolex Series?
"I think that being a woman in this sport does bring in a fair amount of press and attention because there aren't that many of us doing it," Halliday noted. "Also, I find that if I have driven a car well, I get a lot of respect from the crew, team and other drivers, mainly I think because most don't believe a woman will be as quick until they have seen it!"
With 10 races left in the season, these women are determined to continue with their success.
"I never really set out to be the first woman to do this, or the first woman to do that," Duno remarked. "I feel that I'm a driver -- not a woman driver. And as a driver, I of course want to always do well and hopefully win."
"My main goals are to learn a lot and improve my driving skills, have a win in the Rolex Series and hopefully reach a level in my driving where I can gain a sponsor for the future," added Hallliday.
Duno, Halliday and Van Wijk can all be seen in the Food City 250 featuring the Rolex Sports Car Series at Phoenix International Raceway, April 9-10. Tickets are available for purchase at www.phoenixraceway.com. The race will be broadcast LIVE on SPEED Channel at 9 p.m. ET.
For additional information on the Rolex Sports Car Series, visit www.grandamerican.com