TOPEKA, Kan. – Modern auto racing is a team sport.
While most of the competing is done by a single driver at the controls, there are countless hours of work put in behind the scenes, away from the racetrack and the crowd. Those hours spent away from the limelight make it possible for the driver to put in the best on-track performance possible.
This can be seen throughout the entire SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires paddock.
At every level of the sport, family fills many of these behind-the-scenes roles. Often times, their part in the race weekend is equally important to that of any mechanic that works on the car.
In what can be a very chaotic atmosphere, trusted family members can give each driver a sense of ‘normalcy’ and calmness. With the high level of competition in the Mazda MX-5 Cup, having a clear mind can mean the difference between finishing at the top of the podium and finishing dead last.
Historically, racing has been a male-dominated sport, often shared between fathers and sons. However, that stigma is going away as more females, including mothers and daughters, make their way to the racetrack. Not only are these women showing up at the track, but they are taking a more prominent role in the race weekend. In many cases, these female family members act as ardent fans and coaches. Roles often attributed to dad, or another male presence.
John Dean, of Sebring, Fla., is the current Championship point leader of the Mazda MX-5 Cup. His mother, Sandy, is one of his biggest supporters. The series holds races all over the United States, and up into Canada, so Sandy is not able to make it to each race. However, when she is at the race track, she wears several hats throughout the weekend.
“If I am physically present at Johnny’s races, I prepare and serve food and beverages as they are needed,” Sandy said. “When John’s on track, I will walk to different turns to watch testing, practicing, qualifying and the race to cheer him on.”