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January 18, 2007

LSJ Foundation awards four scholarships at 2006 Driver Development Program

Ljslogo_2 Four young female race drivers were awarded scholarships at the four-day 12th annual LSJ Foundation Driver Development Program held in Phoenix Dec. 8-11. The recipients were 15-year-old Chelsea Shillig, 16-year-old Kristen Daggett, 16-year-old Kerstin Smutny and Shannon McIntosh, 17.

This year's group of 15 outstanding female racers from 13 states were challenged at the four-day event, founded by former Indy 500 competitor and motivational speaker Lyn St. James. Dr. Jacques Dallaire of Dallaire Consulting and the Core Performance team at Athlete's Performance in Phoenix put them through the paces mentally and physically. They also were schooled in the business of racing by media specialists Judy Stropus and Matthew Brammer and financial/business expert Linda Conti. Volkswagen factory off-road race-team owner/driver Mark Miller led a discussion on the subject of sponsorships, while Mike Loescher of Finish Line Racing School of Edgewater, Fla., spent a day covering chassis setup and other valuable racing and technical subjects. The students also raced go-karts at the Bondurant Super Karting School at Firebird Raceway and worked with the Bondurant High Performance Driving School cars and instructors on the autocross and skid pad.

During this intensive schedule, the students were observed and evaluated by each of the experts, resulting in the selection of four drivers to receive these scholarships, presented to them by St. James.

At the 2006 Women in the Winner's Circle luncheon in Indianapolis on Aug. 3, the Women's Automotive Association International announced a new scholarship program honoring the dedicated efforts of Deborah Renshaw, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series racer and LSJ DDP graduate. This scholarship was awarded in Phoenix to talented up-and-comer Chelsea Shillig, 15, of Apopka, Fla. Shillig has been racing eight years in quarter midgets, bandoleros and legends and has garnered numerous victories and track records. "She demonstrated amazing maturity and desire during the intense four-day program," said St. James.

The Women's Sports Foundation Jump Start Grant was created from a donation made by Ford Motor Company in the early 1990s when Lyn St. James was under contract to the automaker as a race-car driver. The invested proceeds have since generated enough interest to provide scholarship funds to help offset the costs of attending the program for two attendees beginning in 2006. This grant will help those who have a financial need and who aspire to become
professional race car drivers, and who desire to pursue a career in the automotive industry. This year's recipients were 16-year-old go-kart racer Kristine Daggett of Cary, Ill., and 16-year-old Kerstin Smutny of Bothell, Wash. With only two years of racing experience, Daggett was invited
to the Formula BMW School Shootout in Valencia, Spain. Smutny has nine years of racing experience in go karts, quarter midgets, and most recently has tested both a Formula Renault 1600 and Formula BMW in Valencia.  It's becoming more difficult to select outstanding drivers because the entire group continues to get younger, yet more mature and competent," said St.
James. "Both Kerstin and Kristine stood out as athletes ready to go forward in their careers.

The Kara Hendrick Memorial Award was established at the inaugural LSJ DDP in 1994 to honor the memory of the very talented driver who, at age 22, was killed too early in her life to be able to realize her potential and her dreams. Hendrick lost her life while leading and setting a track record in a midget in October 1991 at California's El Cajon Speedway. St. James came to know her well and was impressed with her spirit and talent. This award is only presented when someone who attends the LSJ program demonstrates that same spirit and talent. This year midget racer Shannon McIntosh, 17, of Miamisburg, Ohio, was the recipient. "Shannon is someone I feel we will be hearing more about in the next few years and I think has the potential to move far up the ladder in racing", said St. James. Past recipients of this award include stock-car racer Allison Quick, NASCAR Whelen Featherlite driver Renee Dupuis, and open-wheeler Danica Patrick.

"These programs are all about preparation - preparation for success in racing and life," added St. James. "The physical and mental demands in racing are often not an issue in the early years or a racing career, but if drivers don't prepare for the future demands, they won't make it. "And the whole subject of the business of racing is often left to others, but the sooner drivers understand what is going to be required of them, the better prepared they are to succeed.

"After someone attends our program I think he or she has a clearer view of what to expect, and more times than not, it's not what they think. This is helpful for those who continue, and it helps clarify their short- and long-term goals. I just hope we can help them succeed in life, whatever they end up doing."

Since 1994, 185 drivers have graduated from the LSJ DDP: 157 females and 28 males. 

Information on this program is available by going to or calling 602-952-9243.


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