An Incredible Journey

Sandy Cotterman
Motorsports Enthusiast

Lyn St. James, author of An Incredible JourneyThis is one of those books that creates an incredible journey for the reader. You’re strapped in behind the wheel with Lyn St. James, feeling every turn with the same excitement and tear jerking moments she felt throughout her remarkable career.

More than an autobiography by a legendary race car driver, St. James captures the essence of racing in both an educational and inspirational way. I only wish someone had handed me this book when I first became interested in motorsports.

St. James walks the reader behind the scenes of what it takes to become a race car driver, from chasing sponsorship dollars to getting back on the track after a crash ... and everything in between. It’s an eye opener and she did it all with grace and determination. Lyn’s sense of humor and down to earth style comes through in her writing. She shares experiences in detail, often down to the second, and then translates them into positive messages on life. Many of these messages are summarized at the end of chapters as ‘Pit Stops’. This is just as much a motivational book as it is a story of Lyn St. James’ life.

For all of us who have gotten hooked on racing just by being at the track, we know how the sounds, the smells, and the speed of the cars are electrifying. This is how it all started for Lyn. At age seventeen, sitting in the stands watching her first Indy race in 1966, she was captivated by the drama and fell ‘in love’ with Indy racing. Little did she know that her life would stay focused on the Indianapolis 500 for the next two decades.

An Incredible Journey, book authored by Lyn St. James

During an era when there were few female race car drivers, it was Lyn St. James herself who wanted to achieve on her own merits without special treatment. The stories she shares, from on and off the track, point to her deliberate care in making sure she was true to herself and to her chosen career. Although this book is appealing to both genders, Lyn speaks to her philosophy on supporting women across the board in all professions and especially those young women interested in pursuing a career in race car driving. The results of her own career goals have given her respect as both a driver and motivational speaker.

The content of this book is divided into fifteen chapters with an Afterward titled The Future, describing Lyn’s inspiration to establish the Lyn St. James Foundation in 1993, renamed in 2002 to the Women in the Winner’s Circle Foundation. Once you pick up this book, I guarantee you won’t put it down. It’s a quick paced book. I would like to see it on required high school reading lists. Not only a historical autobiography of a famous female athlete, it also serves as a motivational book laying out guidelines and scenarios on life lessons very applicable to teenagers. The adult audience readership is not limited to race fans. It’s truly a book for everyone.

It was hard to decide which chapters of this book I enjoyed most. If I had to choose, I would say Chapter One, titled, Drive the Course You’re Given, a glimpse into St. James first time racing. Also inspiring was Chapter Thirteen, The Glory of Teamwork.

Lyn St. James was not someone who set out on a deliberate path to become a race car driver. The same year she got hooked on the excitement at Indy, Lyn entered a race on a dare. It’s amazing to read how a rather shy girl from Ohio ended up first racing on a drag strip. It would be another eight years, before she had a chance to feel that passion again ... and it ended up to be one of those humbling life lessons which is humorous to read, but probably not to live as her 1973 Ford Pinto spun into the murky wetlands off the Palm Beach International Raceway.

Lyn drove seven Indianapolis 500 races. Much of the book focuses on her initial quest for sponsorships and a team owner to take her on as a driver. Lyn’s last Indianapolis 500 race in 2000 covers several chapters focusing on her devastating crash during qualifying. In Chapter 13, she compares the remarkable ‘team effort’ to recover and qualify to run that race to her 1985 win at Watkins Glen in the Serengeti 500, where she chose to drive on her terms without the team, learning a hard, yet valuable, lesson on the importance of teamwork.

To read this book, is to feel like you know this unique woman. Her positive attitude towards life is contagious.