Born in 1919, Vicki Wood’s love for speed and driving was evident from an early age. She once humorously recounted how her skills on the road had alarmed some folks so much that they wrote a letter to the police department questioning her suitability as a driver. Ironically, Wood had only one ticket and one minor accident in her 80 years of driving!
Vicki’s first foray into racing happened in 1953 when her husband took her to a “powder puff” race at Motor City Speedway in Detroit. Not impressed with the competitors’ driving, she confidently declared, “If I couldn’t drive any better than that, I’d quit.” This statement was not just an idle boast. A week later, Wood was behind the wheel of a borrowed 1937 Dodge coupe, competing in her first race. Out of the 25 women racing that day, she impressively finished ninth.
This was just the beginning of Wood’s illustrious racing career. She quickly made a name for herself, becoming the first woman to compete against men in races in Michigan. In the male-dominated world of racing, this was no mean feat. Vicki was not just competing; she was winning and breaking records.
The year 1958 saw Vicki’s prowess being acknowledged in a Pontiac magazine ad that quoted, “… Vicki Wood and her ‘58 Pontiac taught men drivers a lesson in winning the 50-mph safe passing event.” This was a testament not only to her driving skills but also to her trailblazing role in the world of racing.
In 1959, Wood set the record for the fastest lap by a woman at the Daytona International Speedway, clocking in at a blistering 130.3 mph. She didn’t stop there, returning the next year to shatter the fastest one-way mark, hitting an incredible 150.375 mph.
Throughout her career, Wood was an inspiration to many aspiring female racers. She proved that women could compete and win in a field that was traditionally male dominated. Her skill, determination, and indomitable spirit set her apart, making her a true icon in the world of racing.
Vicki Wood passed away in 2020, leaving behind a legacy of speed, strength, and determination. Her story serves as a reminder that with passion and perseverance, no road is too tough, and no speed too fast. So here’s to Vicki Wood, the ‘Fastest Woman in Racing,’ who showed us all what it truly means to be in the driver’s seat.