Women on Track Showcase: Week 2

As has become tradition, the SCCA Women on Track Initiative is celebrating Women’s History Month by showcasing women from all across the SCCA during March. Some of these women blazed the path for others behind the wheel, while many have left their marks or continue to inspire women in leadership and support roles.

Profiles are posted daily on the SCCA Women on Track Facebook Page, and a weekly wrap-up will be available on SCCA.com and the SCCA Women on Track webpage.

For questions about the SCCA Women on Track initiative or to get involved, visit their webpage. Submit your profile details or those of a woman in your life to be featured in future posts and showcases by filling out the form.

Romana Smela

Chicago Region | 1-year member | Time Trials

Romana has been part of the track community for 3 years. She successfully competes in Time Trails with her beloved Mini GP3. She's a really kind person with big heart and always tries to help others drivers. You could meet Romana at local cars and coffees, seeing her volunteer at charity events, or watching her compete on the track. "SCCA make lots of dreams possible driving on the track," says Romana. "SCCA is a place for every motorsport enthusiast to learn and be safe on and off the roads."

Melanie Kwong

New England Region | 6-year member | Solo, RallyCross, Track Events

Melanie and her husband started autocrossing together in 2014 as a fun shared hobby and a way to enjoy her dream car: her R56 Mini Cooper S. She became involved with the SCCA in an organizational capacity as Chief of Grid in 2019 for the NER region where she became well known for being a kind, welcoming and personable voice to new and old members alike. Melanie shocked herself at the 50th Solo Nationals last September by becoming the STSL National Champion, a goal of hers since the early days of her autocross career. This season she becomes the first female Co-Chair of the NER Autocross Region, succeeding Bob Davis. "SCCA truly means #funwithcars to me, but it is also so much more than that. National competition has strengthened my abilities to perform and deliver under pressure; skills I can directly translate into other parts of my life such as my career, explained Melanie. "The autocross community has given me some of my closest and best friends, I'm so grateful for everyone I've met in this sport and all the memories that have been made and are still to come. Finally, I feel empowered and valued as a woman by this club for giving me the opportunity to lead my region and give back to the community that has given me so much."

Beverly Harvey

Kansas City Region | 1-year member | Solo, Track Events, Time Trials

Beverly has owned many toys with both four and two wheels! She's come to SCCA fairly recently to test her skills and make new friends. She says, "This is a new chapter in my life as a I just sold my last motorcycle and now on to 4 wheel fun."

Vicki O'Connor

Indianapolis Region | 19-year member | Trackside

O’Conner was introduced to SCCA in the 1960s when her husband, Bill, raced in Formula B. Her professional motorsports career began when she was hired by fellow SCCA Hall of Famer Carl Haas as his personal secretary. Working for Haas, O’Conner was selected to head up the Sports 2000 Pro Series, which she did successfully. That led to her selection by SCCA Pro Racing in 1985 to begin the East Coast Atlantic Race series to complement the already launched West Coast championship. Four years later, O’Conner had partnered with Toyota as a title sponsor and engine supplier, merging the two series into one national championship, beginning the Toyota Atlantic Championship under O’Conner’s watchful eye. The series took another step forward in 1991 when Gerry Forsythe pulled O’Conner, her staff and the Toyota Atlantic Championship under the CART umbrella to become a part of some of the largest open-wheel motorsports events in the world. Scott Goodyear, Calvin Fish, Patrick Carpentier, Buddy Rice and AJ Allmendinger are just a few of the championship-winning drivers who succeeded in a series that was under O’Conner’s guidance. She did it all as a woman in a time where that was rarely done. She was never aware that being a woman could be a limiting factor in her success. Ignorance is Bliss, she said – though her knowledge was vast.

Carmen Rowlands

Northwest Ohio Region | 13-year member | Solo

Not one to sit on the sidelines, Carmen got her start tagging along to autocrosses before convincing her boyfriend at the time to let her drive his retired STS MR2 at the first local event of the season after we started dating. "I drove terribly but had so much fun that I jumped in feet first and never looked back! The relationship with the guy didn't last, but the hobby sure did!"
At the season banquet for that first season, one of the long time members approached Carmen to discuss plans to run registration at events the following season, which is how she found out she'd been voluntold to be the Region's Registration Chief. That evolved into joining the Solo Field Staff in 2015. Carmen says, "Competition and seeing all of the lesser-known airports and parking lots around the country is great and all, but it's definitely the relationships I've formed with my autocross family that keeps me around."

Jennifer White

Texas Region | 2-year member | RoadRally

Jennifer's passion for automobiles and driving started at a young age when her backyard mechanic father taught her to wrench with him, browse junkyards for parts and attend car shows. Over the years she's had many fun 2 and 4 wheeled vehicles. In 2018, she realized my childhood dream of purchasing a Corvette convertible. "I've been fortunate to combine my love of travel and cars by roadtripping all over the US on some epic scenic drives, often in the Corvette, from Glacier NP Montana to Key West Florida and numerous places in between," said Jennifer. "Although I mostly rally in my Toyota now -- Texas back roads are rough! -- I still enjoy the fun and challenge of rallies and the camaraderie with everyone involved. My mom has been my navigator for the past 4 years and the SCCA has provided us a great opportunity to have some special mother/daughter times that I will always cherish."

Tracy Lewis

Red Hills Region | 27-year member | Solo

Tracy was hooked on Autocross after her first event. Though she's driven different cars over the years, Mustangs are her car of choice and CP Ladies is her home. "The group was much larger when I started and they welcomed me with open arms," said Tracy. "I have been fortunate enough to win 5 National Championships in CPL, thanks in part to my hubby, who is an amazing car builder." In her Region, she has progressed from editing the Region Newsletter when she first joined, to assisting with the administration of the SE Division events in the 90's and early 2000's, more recently, organizing Street Survival Schools, holding a seat on the Board of Directors as well as being the Region's Registrar and Waiver Chief. In 2008, she joined the SCCA National Field Staff to Administrate Events and has recently expanded that role to include more Administrative work for the National Office as well. "SCCA has my heart! Solo is such a family atmosphere, both locally and Nationally," she said. "Both of my daughters grew up coming out to events and the confidence they gained behind the wheel through Autocross has helped them as they have become more experienced drivers. Robert and I have friends all over the country and it's wonderful seeing friends when we show up at events. The community as a whole is tight and when you need something- just about anything- you just need to ask and Autocrossers pull together to make things happen, whether it's a late night car repair at an event, an in grid-between runs car repair, assistance getting parts, carts, etc. from one city to another, even getting people from one city to another, Autocrossers make it happen! The competition is great, but the people are why we keep coming back."


Photos provided by subjects