It was a long hard road, but Cindy Spies has done what no girl has ever done before in the history of Orange Show Speedway, she won the championship in the Pro Stock Late Model Division and on top of that, she took 2004 Rookie of the Year honors.
Cindy and her team knew early on in the season that she did not have a front runner car. She knew the guys were much more aggressive than she was, but she figured if she couldn’t beat the competition with muscle she would do it with brains. Along with her crew, Cindy figured out if they made a goal to make each race, as well as finish each race, the points would follow.
The team focused on consistency. Cindy soon found herself climbing the point charts and by the fourth of ten races, she found herself in the points lead! Although she never believed it would last, she kept up with the plan and she raced as hard as she could and tried to stay out of trouble.
Everything was going to plan until the eighth race on September 11th. Cindy was on the highline when contact on her car’s back quarter panel sent Cindy straight up into the wall, flush with the driver's side of the car. Cindy was knocked unconscious, her ribs cracked and sprained and a nasty bruise was left on her hip. Cindy was hurt and her car was wrecked beyond repair.
Cindy's husband Gordon pretty much decided Cindy had become a target on the track and wanted her out of it. He talked reason to her and although her head said, "yes, she should quit", her heart said, "DON'T GIVE UP!" The morning after they decided to quit, Cindy and Gordon were discussing their decision. That's when Gordon said, "Are you crying"? Cindy wiped away a tear and said, "Damn, guess I am."
She told him how incredibly sad it was to her to come so close to reaching a goal, just to quit. Even if she didn't win the championship, she felt it was important to go back and to show the fans that she wouldn’t give up! Cindy felt that if she didn't go back to the track, the girl racers that follow her may pay the same price. After all, if people saw that wrecking her car got her out of racing and out of the run for the championship, what's to stop them from doing it again to someone else? Cindy didn't want to set a bad precedent for future women drivers.
Gordon and Cindy made the decision to rent a car for the October 1st race. They entered it thinking "just one more race". Cindy wrapped her ribs in a brace and entered the race. On the warm up laps the car began to shake uncontrollably with a cracked brake rotor and broken tie-rod in the suspension. The shaking only aggravated Cindy's injured ribs. She radioed to her husband, asking if she should get off the track. Gordon radioed back to her to "stay high, but stay on the track." So that's what she did. She came in 9th out of 10 that race, but her main competitor had car troubles also and he finished 10th out of 10. Now Cindy was 10 points ahead with 1 more race to go.
Although Gordon and Cindy originally only wanted to do "one more race", it wasn't even discussed. Everyone knew they were going to make the last race! Cindy's crew chief, Art Bojorquez had a Pro Stock car that was "half finished". The next race was tentatively scheduled for 10/30 and they felt they had time to get it done. Art went and got the car; put it in Cindy and Gordon's garage and they immediately began working on the car to have it ready for the final race of the season.
After much decision making, Orange Show Speedway decided they were not going to have another Pro Stock event. There were too many 100 lappers around town and they did not think they would have the car count to justify another Pro Stock race. Cindy was then declared the Champion!
Dale Earnhardt once said it took 3 things to make a good race car driver.....Courage, Tenacity and Sense. I believe Cindy has proven she has all three of these traits! Our hats go off to Cindy for winning a championship, not with having the fastest car but winning like a woman would do something, using her patience, belief in her convictions, perseverance and mostly....never giving up!
Learn more about racing and Cindy Spies by visiting her on the web at: www.cindyspies.com