Saturday, July 2, 2016

1971- Okay Ladies - Start Your Engines!

By Ron Maly

Cedar Rapids, Iowa (July 2, 1971) - Maggie Andrews is a 5-foot 1-inch, 100-pounder who drives a race car at Indy.

Independence, Iowa, that is. Not Indianapolis.

Maggie also drives her 1960 Pontiac in the weekly Friday night stock car program at Hawkeye Downs here. She has driven it so well, in fact, that she has won three of the six women's races that have been held.

That's right . . . women's races. Women drivers’ right out there on the track.

Mothers wearing helmets and talking about spin-outs, roll bars and checkered flags. Maggie Andrews might be changing diapers one minute and be in a shoulder harness on the straightaway the next.

She is the mother of a 4-month-old daughter. “Lori was born at the end of February,” Maggie said, “and I was racing May 16.”

In addition to the baby, she has a 14-year-old son and stepsons who are 20 and 18. Mrs. Andrews, 34, said about 10 women have been entering the Friday night races here and nearly the same number drive each Saturday night at Independence.

“We were racing at Waterloo for a while, too,” said Maggie, who is the new president of the Midwest Women’s Racing Association, “but, due to a lack of interest, we don't anymore.”

“We're not trying to get onto any other tracks now. All we want to do is get interest built up here and in Independence.”

Maggie's husband, Charles, is also a race driver and she credits him with getting her interested in the track. And wouldn't you know it? The lady of the house has been the only winner all season.

“I'm glad to see Maggie win,” said Andrews. “We can use the money.”

At first, Maggie said, the women drivers heard complaints that they were driving too slowly.

“But we always follow the ‘A’ feature - the top men's race - and anything looks slow compared to that,” Mrs. Andrews explained.

“But we want to put on a good show, so I just put my foot in it and go now.”

Maggie said there have been no serious accidents in the women's races, but that all depends on what you call serious. A head-on collision and a rolling car aren't exactly the ways many women would describe “minor” mishaps.

“In our first race,” Mrs. Andrews explained, “a girl spun out ahead of me and my car hit her head-on. Nobody was hurt.”

“Another girl rolled her car - and I was involved in that one, too. She leaned, I bumped her, she spun out and I hit her on the side.”

“She wasn't hurt - at least not in the accident. A guy came out of the pits to pick her up, but dropped her on her rear. That hurt more than anything else.”

Maggie says she had never been on a track until this year. She is not afraid of the track, she says, but admits she “has no idea how fast I'm going when I'm out there.”

“I blew the engine in my car in the first race, but it happened after the checkered flag,” Mrs. Andrews said, “Fortunately, we had a spare motor. And most of the money we win goes back into the car.”

Maggie says that, including money from her two sponsors, she can win $40 with a victory at Hawkeye Downs. She wins less at Independence.

Maggie spent her early years in Princeton, Mo., where she participated in the high school band and in volleyball.

Racing? Oh, she might see - or hear of – the county fair races at Bethany and Trenton, or the State Fair at Sedalia.

Now, at the track, they can't even say, “Gentlemen start your engines” and be correct.

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