Mazda competitor Lacie Edens takes the next step with the Wendi Allen Scholarship
Mazda autocrosser Lacie Edens recently won the Wendi Allen Scholarship fund that gives back to the sport by helping women become more successful drivers and contributing members of the Sports Car Club of America. For the second year in a row, Mazda has stepped up to supply funding for an additional scholarship recipient.
Edens, who finished second in her class at the 2018 SCCA Tire Rack Solo National Championships in Lincoln, Neb., will use the funds to help her and husband Chris travel to the Mineral Wells ProSolo, an event she notes she wouldn’t be doing otherwise, and a foray into a form of autocross she doesn’t regularly participate in.
“Even with the success that I’ve seen and my growth in autocross, I still feel like a beginner,” she says. “I want more growth, more seat time, and I want to learn more. I just feel like there’s no limit to how good you can become as a driver. My intent is to use this opportunity to learn and grow more and push myself out of my comfort zone to become the best driver that I can be.”
The Wendi Allen Scholarship Fund has historically funded two promising women autocrossers through the SCCA Foundation. This year, in addition to Edens, Tara Arnette and Jessica Black also received support.
“Tara, Jessica and Lacie have certainly shown that they merit to be mentioned amongst the ranks of many great autocrossers who have earned the Wendi Allen Scholarship,” says David Cook, Business Development Manager for Mazda Motorsports. “Mazda is elated to be a supporter of this scholarship and part of the SCCA Solo community that shares a passion for helping deserved competitors pursue their motorsport dreams.”
Edens’ personal journey began with watching, not participating. But since taking that first step, she’s fully launched herself into the sport.
“I started off as a spectator,” she says. “I became really tired of sitting on the sidelines, but I was terrified to get into the driver’s seat. My boyfriend at the time, now husband, has a B Street Prepared Mazdaspeed Miata, and he basically told me it would probably be a little too much for me to learn in; but I just saw it as a little car and I didn’t want to drive anyone else’s car. I took off in the car for the first time in the pouring rain, and I spent most of the first year pointed in the wrong direction. But in those moments when I was actually going in a straight line, I really realized how much I enjoyed autocrossing.”
The next step in her autocrossing evolution came when she bought a Miata road car, but then decided to try it in autocross. “I started to learn momentum and slow down and work on my technicality and my lines, and I started translating that back to the car. This past September, I was second at Nationals by tenths of a second, and I’m really hoping that this year I can win it,” she says. “Everybody told me I was crazy for learning on Hoosiers [race tires] in a Street Prepared car, but I would never change it, even though I struggled for so many years. I think the struggle really forced me to learn how to go that fast.”
That evolution and her drive are what she thinks got her noticed for the scholarship. She says she doesn’t get caught up in the idea of women in motorsports, but she does appreciate the community of women autocrossers, and notes that people like Tara Johns and Kim Whitener getting to know her before she had any real success had a big impact on her.
“They didn’t know who I was, and they got to know me just because they were thankful to have another lady willing to race,” Edens says. “It was cool for me to be able to look up to them and see the grace they handle everything with, and they don’t let anything get in their way; they know what they’re capable of and have high expectations for themselves.
“It’s an honor to have the opportunity to race with these ladies, let alone be distinguished by a scholarship,” she concludes. “That’s important, but what’s more important to me is that I’m blessed enough to do this, because it takes a lot of time and effort and money, and to be able to race on the same course as these amazing women is more the honor to me.”