Every year, the SCCA autocross community at large nominates one of our own for the Drive of Eminence award. By definition, the recipient of the award meets the following criteria:
SOLO DRIVER OF EMINENCETo the Solo driver who has consistently demonstrated excellence behind the wheel and an exemplary degree of sportsmanship, dedication and unselfishness. The winner is selected by the Solo Events Board from nominations submitted by the membership at large.
It’s been awarded since 1984, and if you look on the list of past winners (it hasn’t been updated since 2012….for some reason?), you’ll see some of the most famous names in my sport. What you won’t see, however, are the names of many women. The last woman to win it on her own was Karen Babb, in 1990. In 2002, it was awarded to Bob and Patty Tunnell, but it’s been over a decade – and it’s not that there is any lack of deserving female competitors that meet, or exceed the criteria.
We realized the oversight when I asked to establish a new award for women in the sport, There are award for members that have made contributions – both administrative and overall, there are awards for up-and-coming women in the sport, there are awards for those that just want to have fun, there are awards for rookies, and there are awards for drivers with exceptional skill. What was (and still is) missing is an award for those that are in the intermediate level, that have encouraged and mentored new drivers, and pushed them to participate and succeed. I think it’s important to recognize the impact that the 5-10 year, high-participation members have on bringing new people in, and helping to retain them. As a huge minority, it’s even more important for women to have positive role models.
While the Solo Events Board wanted to wait till the off-season to flesh out such an award, they recognized the lack of women Drivers of Eminence. As I was the only person on the email chain with the ability to nominate someone, I immediately began drafting my letter to the SEB, because the first woman to pop into my head is one of the most deserving people in the entire community. Her name is Shelly Monfort, and she’s fantastic.
To the members of theSEB:
It is with great admiration that I write to respectfully nominate Shelly Monfort for the 2014 Driver of Eminence award.
Over the past 30 years, Shelly has been a household autocross name, with multiple national trophies and seven national championships. Over the last five years, she’s dominated Super Stock Ladies, and has become an inspiration to all women in the sport, from those just starting out, to national contenders, to seasoned veterans. Her positive attitude, commendable sportsmanship, and the general camaraderie she encourages throughout the community have truly become essential parts of Solo, and I could not imagine events without them.
My first experience with Shelly was in 2012, driving the famous Danny Kao Corvette, Chicken. I hadn’t ever been in a car with such terrible seats, and blew my runs on Day 1 of the Spring Nats Tour because I couldn’t keep myself in the seat. I had no idea that Shelly had heard me telling Danny how difficult it was, but about an hour later, Shelly appeared in our paddock, with rolled-up towels, duct tape, and a look of determination on her face. She was my competitor, yet still wanted to make sure that I had a) a positive experience, and b) everything I needed to compete fairly. With her help, I was able to configure a makeshift seat cushion that allowed me to have the second-fastest Day 2 time (behind Shelly, of course). Since that event, I know that every time I see her, I will be greeted with a warm smile and a hug, and we will be able to pick up our friendly conversation where we left off.
Exemplary sportsmanship, excellence in racing performances, and contributions to the Solo community are key components of a Driver of Eminence. Shelly epitomizes all of these qualities, as well as bringing with her a vast knowledge, an inclusive and welcoming attitude, and support and encouragement to drivers new and seasoned alike.
Thank you for your consideration.
I won’t know who the Driver of Eminence is for 2014, as its awarded at the Wednesday night banquet, and I am not in Nebraska. I’m sure someone will tell me, and even if Shelly doesn’t win, I’m happy that I still wrote in. At least now the Solo Events Board knows that there are exemplary women in the sport, and those women deserve to be recognized.