I'd have to say that working with Lyn was probably one of the best times I ever had working with a driver. She trusted me. She believed in me. If I told her do something in the car, she did it. Do you know what? It's almost like trying to teach a man and a wife how to drive a boat. I can tell the man, this is what you do, and he'll do it his own way first and find out it doesn't work. The woman will listen to you and try your method first because she doesn't know for sure or she's not as macho as a man, and that was Lyn. If I told Lyn, this is what I'd like to see you do, come out closer to the wall, she'd come out closer to the wall and actually rub the wall. Is that close enough?
Close as it gets.
In other words, working with her was beautiful because she felt the car. Where a lot of drivers would come in and say, "The car doesn't feel good", she'd come in and say, "The front end is moving out on me, or, the back end feels like it's going to come around", instead of, "The car doesn't feel good, you've got to do something to fix the car, it feels terrible" (male drivers). She could help me to understand which end of the car to adjust, one end or the other, where a lot of male drivers didn't know, they just drove. Whatever the car would do, that's what they drove to. That's why so many people needed engineers that would look into the computers. I came up from whatever the car told me to do, I did.
That's the way I came up, so if somebody could tell me how the car felt, then I could correct it. A good example of that is Raul Boesel when he sat on the middle of the front row. The morning of qualifying, I mean, the morning of the day before qualifying on Friday, we put an engine in that I had paid a lot of money, because I thought we had a chance to put Raul on the pole. I was taking Lyn out onto the track, and Raul Boesel is coming back with his car to the garage to put the old engine in because it was faster. I said, what are you guys doing? I just paid a fortune to have that engine built to go for pole position. You're going to take it out? Yeah, it doesn't have the same power that the old one has. Oh, wait a minute, take the car back out on the wall. Put it on the wall, and let me talk to Raul, the driver.
I sat there and talked to Raul on the bottom. I said, Raul, what does the car do when you get in the middle of the corner? He says, well, I don't know. It just doesn't seem to have the same power. I said, oh, so it doesn't feel as free? Oh, what do you mean? It doesn't feel like it just zips off the corner, and he says, yeah, feels like it's doggy, like the engine's lazy. I said, no, Raul, it's not the engine. I told the mechanic, take the left rear tire. Make it smaller by five hundred thousandths. They went to the Goodyear tire company and asked for a smaller rear tire. Bingo, fastest time of the day, day before qualifying. One change... And not the engine...
Five thousandths of an inch on the rear tire.
Well, Lyn was the second woman in history to ever make the Indianapolis 500. Lyn St. James came to Dianne and me and asked if there were any chance for her to drive at Indy. I said, the biggest problem is paying the bills.We need to try to find a sponsor for you if you're going to do it. She said, well, how do I convince a sponsor that I can drive? Well, she had won a lot of races in driving those sports cars and stuff, and she was the factory driver for Ford. I mean, they PAID her to drive, so I said to her, look, whenever we get a chance in the near future or the distant future, we can take a car that has still a good engine and a good car, and we can go to a track and test you. I'll call you and you be ready, and it happened.
After the Miami race, we had two entries at Miami, and we had Raul Boesel and a driver that drove offshore power boats, Fulvio Ballabio. Fulvio Ballabio was the world champion from Italy. He exchanged a ride at Tamarama Park in Florida in our Indy car for me to drive his offshore boat in a race. We had that car plus Raul's car, and when we finished that race they were both in one piece, so I called Lyn and I said, we're going back to Indianapolis. We are going to stop at a race track on the way, Memphis, I believe it was, and if you can be there, I'll put you in the car and you can test the car.
Finding the track.
She didn't know where the track was, I didn't know where the track was, all I knew was we were going there. We were going there for another reason, because we had another rookie driver who wanted to drive in another race who was paying for the test, so he paid for the track to be used, he paid for the use of the car. Since we had two cars, I said, I'll just roll out the second car and you can finish out the miles that are on that engine, because we can put so many miles on an engine and then send it in for overhaul.
She showed up, she ran faster than the so-called "great" rookie, and that was the start of our program. With that, I told her, you find a sponsor that we can talk to. With her help, we found sponsors and got her into the Indy 500. Her first major sponsor was J.C. Penney, and J.C. Penney sponsored her a number of years in the Indianapolis 500. They were the sponsor for her when she qualified on the outside of the second row, second year she was there.
She drove a lot of different cars, I forget which one. We had a Lola Chevy, she was a contracted Ford driver, and that was the car she was going to qualify. It became obvious that the Cosworth wasn't competitive that year, for her especially, so we called Ford, and I said I have a backup car with a Lola, different engine. It was down because of the rules on compression ratio and turbo-charged pressure.
...And she made the race
The Cosworth was down, I knew that, so I told Lyn, we need to drive the Chevy, the Chevy engine will put you in the show, so she had to call Ford. She calls Ford and tells Ford that we're not going to make it with the Ford that Dick's got, but he's got another one with a Chevy in it, and I can make the race with that one. The Ford guy said, I'll release you from your contractual agreement to drive nothing but a Ford to make the Indy 500 in whatever car you need to make it. He gave us that in writing, we put her in the Chevy, and she made the race.