Spirit of Mazda: Linda Duncan

Retired teacher continues to mentor others, from ensuring teens are safe drivers to getting more women involved in SCCA autocross

“She went directly from retirement to the Street Survival program, so it’s a matter of that whole mentorship mentality. Whether it’s fourth graders or junior high kids to teaching teenagers to drive better to now encouraging women to become involved [in motorsports], there’s a kind of mentorship gene that never gets turned off,” says Howard Duncan, describing his wife Linda. 

Aside from being a two-time SCCA Solo champion and recently being part of a one-two finish in Stock Rear Wheel Drive at the DirtFish SCCA RallyCross West National Challenge with Howard in a 1999 Miata, Linda has worked to improve a couple of programs in the SCCA since retiring as a school teacher. Howard, SCCA’s Senior Director of Rally/Solo, says those programs are why he thinks she was nominated for Mazda Motorsport’s Spirit of Mazda award.

“One has been her advocacy for the Street Survival program,” he says, referring to the SCCA Foundation’s Tire Rack Street Survival program that teaches defensive driving to teens and young adults. “She was the national coordinator for two or three years and remains a strong advocate for that program. She is always trying to get new [SCCA] regions involved. The second is her recent involvement in the women’s initiative to get more women involved in SCCA, particularly Solo. She’s very involved in handling the Ladies Luncheon at the Solo National Championships this year, presented by Mazda. Linda’s really taken that on and this is really a formal version of something she’s done for years, which is encouraging other women, particularly younger women, to step out of their comfort zone and try Solo, or for those that have put their toe in the water, to mentor and help them along.”

The women’s initiative was an idea that Howard had that Linda ran with, getting Tamra Johns and Velma Boreen and a host of others involved along the way. There are nearly 100 women signed up for the luncheon at the Solo National Championships in Lincoln, Neb., and many others have contacted Linda to see how they can help.

“She’s only been directly involved for three or four months,” says Howard. “At this point, we’re just sort of beginning to tap into some of the potential energy that’s there. We’re seeing a potential volcano of activity and interest coming out of the luncheon. 

“During her period of working with Street Survival, she was able to increase the number of regions that were hosting events and the total number of students that went through, along with the level of adherence to the curriculum – not just more schools and students, but to where we were doing a better job of helping young drivers be better drivers.”

It should be obvious by now that the Spirit of Mazda tenet that has earned Linda Duncan the honor is Tomoiku – “We learn and teach each other for our mutual growth and success.” Even in retirement, she can’t stop spreading the knowledge.