[ This article originally appeared on naracecar.com ]
Cindi Lux is a cool, down-to-earth, veteran racer that brings a special spark to whatever paddock she’s in. Cindi’s been at the game for a long time and has some great stories and thoughts for the sport as a whole. I’ve gotten to know her very well over the last year, so I encourage you to take a look and learn about her upbringing, the team she started with her Husband, and her career.
You have been racing professionally since 1999, how did you get your start in racing to begin with?
CL: Even though I came from a family of racing, being the youngest and the only girl, I was never allowed to be at the track. My grandfather started racing back in 1940’s racing Chryslers in the Pan America Road race down in Mexico. Then my dad and 2 older brothers also raced. So at the dinner table, the conversation always centered on cars and racing. I remember just listening on every word they said and it sounded fun, but it wasn‘t until I graduated from College and moved down to LA to work for Toyota Motor Sales USA, when I had my first chance to drive on track at Willow Springs. Living in an apartment close to the beach, I had no shop, tools, crew or anything. So I thought….I will buy a racecar! I had no place to put it! I just knew I had to make it work, as I needed to race. At certain club races at Willow Springs, I would go the trash pile of old tires and pick out some tires I could use. I couldn’t afford anything and so other people’s take-off tires were gold to me. I never gave up. I did whatever necessary to learn and get seat time.
Your Dad also raced; do you have any memories growing up from that time watching him pilot a car?
CL: When I was born, my dad (pictured above) thought it was time for him to focus on family and business. And not racing. He owned several family dealerships and having 3 little kids to feed, it was time to sell all his Ferraris. So I don’t have any memories of seeing him race unfortunately. But I am still amazed still to this day, how many fans come up to me at the tracks in the Northwest still talking about my Dad’s successes and what a great competitor he was.
How has motorsports grown or changed since you’ve started racing and what has been the most important change you’ve seen?
CL: The element of competition will never change. Yes, the technology and cost of racing has increased dramatically over the years, but the bottom line is having a desire to learn and not get impatient. It seems like the people want everything “now” and if they can’t get behind the wheel, then they move on to a different sport or interest. You have to commit yourself for the long run. you also have to sacrifice a lot and never, ever give up. That being said, I think the biggest change I have seen is in the area of safety. It has progressed to such a wonderful level now.
How do you see the sport evolve? What happens to motorsports in 20 years?
CL: Wow, that is a good one! I wish I had a crystal ball. I have to be totally honest; I have no clue on what it’s going to look like. However, the one thing that hope will never change is the human factor – the creativity of building race cars and the nut behind the wheel. Time will tell.
Getting back to you and your career. You and your husband Fred run Lux Performance. How was the decision made to go out and start your own professional team?
CL: It’s funny. There was never a plan of starting and running our own team. It just kind of morphed into one out of necessity. Fred was on the crew for Team Mitsubishi when we lived down in LA and when we moved back up to the Northwest, things just started to get bigger and bigger. Fred started and owned a company that modified vehicles for the disabled in Portland. It was a great success however he missed the creativity in motorsports. So it just kind of happened without trying. Sounds weird, huh? But we made a good team. We just treat our clients as family and take good care of them and I think this approach helped us get our foot in the door with Dodge back in 2005.
You know the one person who should really get most of the credit of my success is my Fred. He has built me some wonderful racecars that any first grader could drive. And believe me; I am not just saying this because we live under the same roof! He is patient, creative and very smart. So lucky to have partnered up with him both on and off the track. He is certainly the man “behind the curtain.”
You have been a Viper and Mopar team for a many years, how much life does the Viper have left in it?
CL: My first official contract was back in 2006 with Dodge Motorsports. Then I signed on with Mopar to run World Challenge GT in 2008. That year was the most fun ever! I did such crazy stuff with them. It’s been a long and very special relationship over the years. Up until this point, I was never really “brand” specific on what I raced, I just wanted 4-wheels and a roof over my head and I was happy. However, I became very loyal at this point as Dodge put their neck out for me and I wanted to repay them. I am so grateful and honored they took a chance on me. Even though the viper is out of current production, the race car version is still VERY competitive. So I know there is a long life in her on track.
Looking back at your career, can you name one favorite moment?
CL: Wow, that is a really tough question. I have been super blessed with some great moments over the years. Probably the ones that stand out aren’t victories as most people would think. Back in 2010, Mopar asked to race in an exhibition race at the Mopar Mile High NHRA National event in Bolder Colorado against Shirley Muldowney. They had Shirley drive the new 2011 V-10 Mopar Challenger Drag Pack car against my Mopar Viper Comp Coupe. It was crazy! I had never dragged race before and thank god that NHRA Pro Stock Champion Allen Johnson was a previous student of mine. And he took me under his wing to help me not embarrass myself. Well, I still did!! The other special moment was back in 2000, when I raced in a Porsche GT3R. Finishing with a Top-5 was, so personally it was rewarding. And that is when I believe I started to earn the respect of others top racers.
What driver or drivers are the most fun to compete against? Who do you look forward to racing?
CL: Racing against drivers who are clean, aggressive and make smart decisions. There is nothing better going wheel to wheel with someone who gives racing room. I race people the same way they race me – ust read between the lines here – I have raced against some of the best and because they have pushed me hard on track, it made me a better racer as well. I always enjoy being with people who are smarter and faster. I always look it as way to learn how to improve myself. I always crave knowledge. The day I stop learning how to go faster, is the day I need to hang up my helmet and take up surfing.
You have been racing in Trans Am since the 2015 season and we have seen tremendous growth in the series. What does the future hold for Trans Am?
CL: Trans Am has a very niche market for teams and drivers. It fills a very large void compared to other high cost professional racing series. I don’t like to use the term entry-level pro racing but it’s very cost effective compared to others. I think with the price of motorsports skyrocketing and if TA is managed properly, it will attract people. It has a lot of heritage but they can’t live on that alone. We have enjoyed TA and from what I can tell they are willing to make changes to keep up with today’s market. If a series can focus on two things: cost control and rule consistency, it will catch the eye of many teams and sponsors.
A softball question – You can driver any race car from any era, what is it and why?
CL: Not too sure I would go back in history to race but I tell you what I would love to race sprint cars. I have always been fascinated with these race cars. Especially on dirt. I need to figure out how to do this someday.