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October 2, 2022

Vintage Photographs of Vicki Wood, the Fastest Woman in Racing

“Somebody wrote a letter to the police department that they didn’t think I’d make a good driver out on the public highway,” Vicki Wood told Autoweek in a May 2019 interview. “They took my license away. That was the worst thing they could have done to me. I had a nice car, and I had no trouble driving whatsoever. In 80 years of driving, I had one ticket and one slight accident.”

Vicki Wood (1919-2020) enjoyed ignoring speed limits as a record-setting racer between 1953 and 1963. In 1953, her husband took her to a “powder puff” race at Motor City Speedway in Detroit. She commented, “If I couldn't drive any better than that, I’d quit.” A week later, her husband had borrowed a 1937 Dodge coupe for her to compete and she finished ninth of the 25 women racing in the event that day. The next night they went to a race at Mount Clemens where she won her first race.

She became the first woman to compete against men in races in Michigan. She also set a number of women’s records at American race tracks, including fastest lap (130.3 mph) and fastest one-way mark (150.375) at Daytona International Speedway in 1959 and 1960, respectively, and at Atlanta International Speedway in 1961.

In 1958, a magazine ad for Pontiac automobiles featured Wood in a photograph and the accompanying text that noted “... Vicki Wood and her ‘58 Pontiac taught men drivers a lesson in winning the 50 m.p.h. safe passing event.”

Wood retired from racing in 1963. In the late 1960s she and her husband moved to Florida, where she worked in a department store.


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