FORT WORTH-DALLAS (August 25, 2000) -- Belinda Endress hasn't been racing all her life, but she is already shooting for the top spot of the Women's Global GT Series this year. And it's not just "wishful thinking" on her part, considering she...
FORT WORTH-DALLAS (August 25, 2000) -- Belinda Endress hasn't been racing all her life, but she is already shooting for the top spot of the Women's Global GT Series this year. And it's not just "wishful thinking" on her part, considering she earned 1999's "most improved driver" title in the circuit's first season and is currently third in points.
The "most improved" title was the latest of many accomplishments in her life to date, and it helped Endress renew her sponsorship from Xtreme Island Designs (XID), the Honolulu fashion company that took a big chance on an unknown driver a year ago with its first racing sponsorship ever Endress had a successful run for several years driving in the SCCA Solo Series, but nothing like she is now experiencing in competitive racing as part of the Women's Global GT Series
She was sprawled across her bed at home in California in 1998 when she read a short item labeled "The Gong Show" in AutoWeek. It announced veteran Indy car driver Lyn St. James's invitation to join the Women's Global GT series. "This is what I've been waiting for," she thought. "I've got to do this." And she did.
The original meeting at Road Atlanta, sometimes referred to as a "cattle call," attracted scores of hopeful entrants in the series. Belinda and another 80 others answered the call. Each applicant was tested extensively to see if they could qualify for the new series.
Women were screened for physical and mental skills. They were also tested on their driving abilities. For five laps, drivers were timed and then rejected or passed to an eligible list. Belinda was a champion from SCCA Solo II, a competition for drivers on tight courses against the clock, so qualifying suited her. She drove her way into the series, summoning a lot of time trial experience and some obvious talent.
But competition is nothing new to Endress. Growing up in the race horse culture of the West, where she learned to care for thoroughbreds, ride them, exercise them and even race them and break them in, she spent most of her youth challenging her ability to excel in sports.
Among many youth jobs, she was a fashion model beginning at age 14. She took up skiing and won local races at Mammoth Mountain in the Sierras. In high school she ran track and cross-country. She completed one of the toughest trail races in Southern California, Sierra Madre to Mount Wilson and back.
Later, she took up martial arts that opened the door to a new vocation -- stunt work for the movies and TV. This led her to another line of work -- women's professional wrestling -- where she competed under the name "Tornado Red".
Entering the 2000 season as "most improved driver" doesn't tell the whole story. Belinda Endress, even with primary sponsorship from XID, is self-supported. Her success as a businesswoman operating a video production company has paid dividends as she pays her own way everywhere.
Having the looks and the know-how of a photographer's model, she has represented both XID and the sport of motor racing at key trade shows from coast to coast. While on the road, she keeps her office in Newbury Park, Calif., running the business by phone, fax and e-mail.