Lyn St. James returns to race at Indianapolis this weekend

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Even though it has been 14 years since she last raced at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Lyn St. James will once again race on the fabled 2.5-mile speedway in this weekend’s Sportscar Vintage Racing Association’s Vintage Racing Invitational.

St. James, who is now 67, will race in two different classes in one of the premier vintage racing events in the country, which runs from Friday through Sunday and is expected to draw a record 700-plus vintage cars and racers.

Cars in competition will date as far back as the early 1900s, as well as prototypes and former championship-winning rides.

The Ohio native will race in the “Indy Legends” Pro-Am race, driving a 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302, and will compete against fellow legends including Al Unser Jr., Buddy Lazier, Scott Goodyear and Davey Hamilton, according to a report in the Indianapolis Star.

St. James, the first woman to win Indy 500 Rookie of the Year honors in 1992, will also drive a 1977 Chevron Atlantic in the Group 9 open-wheel event, as well.

While she spends most of her days now as a motivational speaker, according to the Star, she is far from being retired from behind the wheel.

“The word (retired) sort of gets my back up because I’m just a retired IndyCar driver (but) I’m still racing,” St. James told The Star. “People love to put that word because that’s what life to them is like. They have a job, and then they retire, but this is our job, and it’s also our passion.”

St. James has a compelling question-and-answer session with The Star that long-time race fans will likely find very interesting.

One highlight we wanted to point out, is St. James’ response when she was asked if she still gets the urge to “jump in a car whenever you’re at a race track?”

“I can only be at a race track for a few days if I’m not racing,” St. James said. “But if I’m running, I could stay there forever. It’s who I am. I still get the same feeling, the juices flow inside, it elevates all your senses — sound, smell, everything is elevated.”

To read the interview, click here.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.