By ROGER UNDERWOOD
April 13, 2004
She had everything, it seemed, that a race car driver could want. Talent. Experience. And an all-important track record, so to speak, having won the first Women's Global GT series. But Cindi Lux still needed one thing: A car. "It's the trials and tribulations of this profession," she said in July 2000. "But we're hanging in there."
Finally, however, what went around came around for the Yakima native. Lux, the former Cindi Hahn, found a team, a car, a sponsor and a close friend all in the same package. She joined NayKid Racing, based in Puyallup and owned by Scotty White, who drives one of its three Corvette Z06s in Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) competition throughout the country. Lux drives one of the others. "It was kind of a strange deal," Lux said in a recent telephone interview. "About two years ago I ran his car in a race, and we just sort of clicked."
It hasn't hurt that Lux is a world-class driver. Beyond her WGGTS championship, she has two top-five Petit Le Mans Porsche GT finishes in as many starts, has earned eight road racing championships and has 60 career wins.
Last season she had three victories and was a top-five finisher at the Valvoline SCCA Runoffs, earning driver of the year honors.
So it was no big surprise that last February, Lux signed a three-year contract with NayKid Racing.
And in the team's first competition, last month in Willows, Calif., White, Lux and No. 3 driver Ryan Snodgrass, respectively, swept the top three spots in two races. "We'll be in 13 to 14 races this year, if not more," Lux said. "We've kind of lucked out in competition, basically just keeping ourselves out of trouble. What I do behind the wheel is nothing too special. I stay out of trouble and don't get emotional inside the car."
For awhile, Lux had trouble getting outside the car. A nagging left shoulder problem was making it increasingly difficult for her to exit race cars, whose doors don't open - "many years ago I decided to get into a shoving contest with a cement wall, and lost," she said - so she had surgery last October to correct the problem.
"We're having a ball, the time of our lives," the 42-year-old Lux said. "And it's a nice to be able to bring our family in. My husband, Fred, is very involved. He's the crew chief over all three race cars and he does an awesome job. He builds a wonderful race car."
Not that the 405-horsepower Z06 Corvette, as purchased from a dealer, is a lightweight. But for SCCA purposes the car is modified with different suspension, shocks, spring bars, coolers and, of course, tires. The upgrade costs about $30,000 and adds 60 to 70 horsepower, Lux said. "It's a very economical race car," she said, "and it's super reliable." Enough so that all three NayKid Racing cars usually reach the finish line, as they did last month.
"If one of us has a problem, the other two forge on," Lux said. "There's a lot more work involved in this type of team situation, but I just love it. Every year is more and more fun. We keep raising the bar for ourselves and we think very much out of the box."
Even if driving a Corvette runs contrary to her family's vehicular heritage. Hahn Motor Company of Yakima, family owned since 1924, sells Chrysler, Mercedes-Benz and BMW products. "I'm like, 'OK, I've never really raced a Corvette, with my background more involving European cars,' " Lux said. "But first I drove it, then I had to make a call to my Dad and brothers, telling them I'm going to drive a GM (General Motors) product.' "That's one of the things you deal with, growing up like I did where you talk about the industry at the dinner table."
The main thing, of course, is that Lux's career has made a U-turn. It has gone from frustration to elation. "One door closes," she said, "and another opens. I just kept telling myself that I've gotta keep trying. And now I consider myself so damned lucky to have hooked up with Scotty. The whole situation is absolutely phenomenal and I want to make sure this partnership goes on.
"It just keeps getting better."