None other than racing legends Sir Stirling Moss and Denise McCluggage gave their seal of approval to the new road course at Kansas Speedway on Friday.
By RANDY COVITZ
The Kansas City Star
Moss, a 16-time winner on the Formula One circuit during 1951-61, and McCluggage, a Kansas native who was one of the first female sports writers and drivers, are in town for the Art of the Car Concours exhibit at the Kansas City Art Institute and appeared at the first event on the road course, this weekend’s Porsche Club of America race.
“I prefer racing on proper roads,” said Moss, 83. “This facility is second to none.”
The yellow 1960 Maserati Birdcage that Moss raced in five events was on display at the track Friday, as was the No. 21 Ferrari 250 in which Masten Gregory of Kansas City won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1965.
“That was one of the last front-engine cars,” Moss said of the Maserati.
But his favorite car was the Mercedes SLR, “because it was so reliable. Things didn’t fall off. I’ve driven Lotuses, and I can’t tell you how many wheels fall off.”
McCluggage, who was born in El Dorado and graduated from Topeka High, was a pioneer both as a driver and as a journalist. She not only raced sports cars professionally, but covered auto racing and skiing for the New York Herald Tribune and was a founding editor of AutoWeek.
“Being a woman, I was not allowed to cover the normal things,” said McCluggage, 86. “I didn’t batter a wall down, I went around it. … I got to drive a lot of interesting cars, and do a lot of interesting stories. I couldn’t be a sports editor. That was unheard of for a woman.
“I covered skiing because no one else wanted to go out in the cold weather. They hated going to Indianapolis, so I would go out there and covered the sports car races, but I would drive in the race. I would jump out of the car and asked, who won?’ ”
Considering she wasn’t allowed in the garage areas or even in the press box when she started covering the Indianapolis 500, McCluggage is pleased to see how much progress women have made both as racing reporters and as drivers.
“When Janet Guthrie was doing what ( Danica Patrick) was doing, and probably in a certain way doing it better, they were booing her. … Guys would yell at her, ‘I hope you would crash in the first turn’ but she drove everything.
“There’s quite a lot of interest in racing among young women. But money is so short for anybody now. The few like Danica, it seems with women there can be one star … Danica fills that bill. Everyone loves her, she’s the most popular one.”
| Randy Covitz, firstname.lastname@example.org