Vicki Wood’s racing job is a plum topic for a documentary, due to the fact it’s the form of detail that only happens in movies. A flippant remark Woods designed to her spouse in 1953 turned into a 10 years of breaking boundaries and environment information until 1963, amassing forty eight trophies in the process and earning the titles “speediest lady in racing” and “speediest lady on the sand.” Then she retired over a different remark, this one from a different competitor, that was just as unexpected as the preliminary line. Any documentary will have to have to be stitched collectively without its protagonist, unfortunately, as The New York Periods stories Wooden died because of to a heart challenge previously this month at the age of a hundred and one.
Born Victoria Rose Raczak, her upbringing in Detroit and her six brothers frequently toying with automobiles usually are not what put fuel in her veins. It was a vacation to the race track in 1953 with her 2nd spouse, Clarence “Skeeter” Wooden, that did it. They had been observing the powder puff races at Motor Town Speedway filth track — races held just for ladies motorists — and Wooden wasn’t amazed. She told Autoweek in a profile from previous yr, immediately after her 100th birthday, “The ladies in that race had been so terrible. They had been all over the track, managing into the wall and all that sort of stuff. I explained to Skeeter, ‘If I couldn’t push any better than that, I would not be out there.'”
The subsequent week, Skeeter took Vicki to the track yet again, this time walking her up to a 1937 Dodge Coupe in the pits and telling her, “Alright, Smarty. You think you’re so excellent, here’s a vehicle. Now go out there.” Wooden experienced never ever been in the vehicle and never ever raced on a track. Even although she rated her driving “awful,” she experienced previous but concluded ninth out of 24 automobiles. The subsequent night, at Mount Clemens filth track, she gained the powder puff race. A person week later, at Flat Rock, she gained five straight powder puff races. Racing became a regular detail as she also began teaching other ladies motorists, having excellent enough for billing in a clip about a powder puff race and a profile in the Detroit Totally free Push in 1955.
That similar yr, her spouse certain Chrysler to set her up in a 1955 Chrysler 300 for the duration of Speedweek in Daytona Beach. The automaker experienced designed 4 automobiles for events including the Chrysler 300 Daytona Flying Mile. Wooden obtained guiding the wheel of VIN 001, the vehicle that race driver and Chrysler Plymouth seller Brewster Shaw drove. Wooden experienced never ever pushed on sand. According to a historical past of Speedweek on Allpar, Warren Koechling took first location in the out-and-back again mile at 127.six mph, Shaw took 2nd at 126.five mph, and Wooden obtained third at 125.8 mph. The earlier yr, Shaw experienced set the 300’s mile document at 117.one mph.
In 1956, Wooden returned to Speedweek, taking the wheel of a Chrysler 300B for the branded function. For some motive she’s not categorized, but a be aware says, “Wooden drove (Tim) Flock’s vehicle 136.one mph. That velocity would have put her in 2nd location guiding Flock at 139 mph, forward of Koechling at 129. mph.
In 1957, Wooden begun racing in opposition to adult males, breaking the gender barrier in Michigan. She also beat a lot of of the fellas, telling Autoweek, “I was a better driver than 50 % of the adult males they experienced.”
Vicki Wooden at Daytona in 1960, when she set her document mile of a hundred and fifty.375 mph on the sand. (Getty Illustrations or photos)
In 1959, a different vacation to Daytona garnered Wooden one of the two information she’s most recognized for, the woman’s lap document at Monthly bill France’s then-brand name-new Daytona International Speedway. She explained when she tried out to enter the pits, a track employee stopped her due to the fact ladies were not permitted in the paddock. When France read about it, he told the employee, “Vicki Wooden is not a lady. She’s a driver, and she’s permitted in the pits.” Wooden took a 1959 Pontiac to 130.three mph all around the two.five-mile oval. She wanted to consider qualifying for the men’s race, the first-ever Daytona 500, but France told her that her Ford Thunderbird wasn’t risk-free.
The subsequent yr, Wooden checked into Daytona Speedweek to set a one-way mile dash down the sand that attained a hundred and fifty.375 mph, a mark that even now stands.
She raced wearing a scarf, and sometimes in a skirt and superior heels. Her grandson Neil Wooden in the Periods explained that when a reporter questioned why, she replied, “I realized I’d almost certainly get and you’d want to job interview me, and I wanted to appear excellent.”
Nevertheless racing in opposition to adult males and beating them in 1963, she explained, “A person night, we went back again to Flat Rock Speedway in Michigan, and this male that I passed explained, ‘If you’re going to preserve on racing with us adult males, we’ll go on strike.’ I decided to give up. I could have even now pushed with the ladies, but that is not what I wanted. I experienced experienced enough.” The fellas she passed, it seemed, did not like being teased about it. And that was that.
It took a long time for Wooden to start out to get her because of, but she’s been inducted into the Michigan Motor Sporting activities Hall of Fame, The Villages Motor Racing Supporter Club in The Villages, Florida, and you can find a “Vicki Wooden Cheese Steak” sandwich at Racing’s North Convert Bar & Grille in Ponce Inlet, Florida.
She drove until age ninety nine, when Florida took her license. “That was the worst detail they could have completed to me,” she told Autoweek. “I experienced a nice vehicle, and I experienced no difficulty driving whatsoever.”
A racer to the finish, when a collector questioned her which vehicle she raced was her preferred, she replied, “The speediest one.”