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[Yakima-Herald] Driving adventure -- Lux perseveres on racing circuit

[This article originally appeared on the Yakima-Herald website.]

by Roger Underwood
Yakima Herald-Republic

On paper, it looked like a match made in motorsports heaven. On pavement, it's been a different sort of adventure.

But since Cindi Lux could clearly be described as adventurous, not to mention highly competitive, life on the Sports Car Club of America World Challenge GT Series has been an intriguing mix of acceleration, exhilaration, fun and frustration.

"I'm actually nervous as hell," Lux said during a recent telephone interview. "I'm competing with all these high-profile people, drivers who have done and are doing awesome things in our sport, and here I am just this little girl who grew up in Yakima."

And who has done some substantially impressive things on the track in her own right, but that's another story.

This one began last April, when Lux joined Team Mopar.

"We'd always kept in touch with Dodge Motorsports," she said, "and they had a little bit of a changing of the guard there last winter. They made a proposal, we took a look at it, and to be honest it's an honor to be a part of the whole Mopar family, especially with the company's ties with my own family."

Meaning the Hahn family of Yakima, longtime operators of Hahn Motor Company, which sells Chrysler products among others. Before she was Cindi Lux, she was Cindi Hahn.

So there was considerable upside to the deal, which meant Lux would pilot a Dodge Viper in the SCCA SPEED World Challenge.

The downside?

"The pressure of not letting them down," she said.

Then there was the matter of time, of effort spent trying to do the new job justice while also continuing in her role as a driving instructor at Miller Motorsports Park -- the state of the art facility built by Utah Jazz owner Larry Miller near Salt Lake City.

Lux also does some personal coaching and, of course,
continues to run the Lux Performance Group, LLC, along with making the obligatory personal appearances for multiple sponsors.

"I am progressing and I am happy," Lux said, "but I am also working my derriere off. I'm more tired this year, mentally and physically, just because you have to work 10 times harder. It's like, the grass is always greener, but be careful what you wish for."

Like a teammate, for example.

"We were going to become a two-car team," she said, "and we had a new teammate coming on board, and the guy absolutely flaked out. Didn't show up. I was really angry, and panicked financially, because we'd paid crew members and the whole deal. So now I'm very leery of a handshake deal."

But no less committed to racing, and to winning.

So far Lux has raced in two SCCA Speed World Challenge events, finishing ninth in the Grand Prix of Long Beach last April and following with a fifth in the Utah Grand Prix last May.

The latter event was held at Miller Motorsports Park. Both were career-bests for Lux in that level of competition.

Next up is the Mid-Ohio Grand Prix on July 20 in Lexington, Ohio.

The outlook would be clearly optimistic had not the circuit's governing body chosen to throttle back Lux's Dodge Viper by restricting its air intake.

"They can do anything they want," Lux said, explaining the action. "And they decided, 'We're going to slow you guys down. We're going to restrict the air intake on your motors', and with the Viper it's just going to kill us.

"We've lost a significant amount of horsepower and torque. It was pretty hard walking into the shop and telling the guys. I'm definitely not happy about it, but I haven't thrown in the towel."

And won't, if history is an indication. It would be entirely out of character for the 12-time road racing champion who won the 1999 American Le Man's Series Women's Global GT title.

Nor would it matter whether the opposition consists of men, women or both.

"Someone told me once that I was the highest-placing female in the history of the series, and I said, 'Why do we have to go down that road?', Lux said. "I'm OK with it and I understand it, but the bottom line is I'm just another race car driver like 35 others out there."

The competition, however, has been something else.

"I'm out there driving with people who were my heroes growing up," she said. "I'm sharing a race track and ripping mirrors off with these guys. It's definitely elevating my driving."

And enhancing the latest adventure for Lux, who marveled at the series' exposure on the SPEED channel and the overall attention she and other drivers receive.

"It's something for someone who was just a little girl growing up in Yakima," she said. "But the bottom line is my family instilled in me some remarkable values, that you never forget where you came from and you never forget the folks who helped you along the way. We have only a one-year contract, but we'll ride this ride as long as we can."

About Cindi

Dedicated, fast and fearless; Cindi Lux is recognized as one of North America's most talented and versatile drivers.

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Lux Performance

Besides racing and building some of the top level race cars, we also perform specialty engineering and prototype services.

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