Mares Stellfox - Race Car Driver

Since she was just four years old, Mares wanted to drive race cars.

Her interest in fast cars continued after school, and she often attended the drag races at Maple Grove, Atco and Englishtown. She married Mark Stellfox who shared her interest in drag racing.

In 1984, Mares made her debut with her micro sprint car at Delaware's Airport Speedway. She only ran four races in 1984, but liked racing so much that she bought a new car for the 1985 season. She set as her goal to finish in the top ten in points that year, and she finished out the year in 10th place. Then next year, she set her goal on being in the top five, and she finished 4th. The following year she won the championship – 1st place!

Mares was not crash-free. In fact, she had a crash about one race in ten. These crashes would often damage the car and motor, and it would be up to Mark to put them back together. Even if he had to stay up all night, Mark would always have the car ready for the next day of racing. Mares never missed a start due to a broken car. An interesting difference between male and female racers is how they are treated after a crash. For a male racer, a crash is taken in stride, a "these things will happen..." kind of attitude from the other racers. But whenever Mares would crash, the other male racers would rush to make a big deal out of it. They would hold it as an example of why women should not be allowed to race cars.

Driving a race car is very hard work. It takes strength and stamina to wrestle a 1200 lb. car around a dirt track, often several times a night. Since Mares is a small woman (about 100 lbs.), the exertion required during the race was, at first, a problem. The G-forces were so great on her helmet that at times she felt "as if my head was being torn off." Most things about these cars, built for men, would not fit Mares' smaller frame. Mark had to create almost everything custom to fit his wife's features. For example, a standard steering wheel is 15" wide, the same width as a man's shoulders. In Mares' race car, the wheel was reduced to 13", the same width as her shoulders. This smaller diameter wheel, in turn, required that the power-assist on the steering be boosted. Her seat had to be smaller, her flame-resistant suit had to be custom made to her size. To counter the extreme G-force on her helmet, Mark installed a bar beside her right ear, so that the helmet would be supported when she went around a turn at 90 MPH.

Back in 1988, when she was still struggling to gain acceptance as a driver, she joined a racing club called The Outlaws. There were 97 men in the club, and she was the only woman. Because of this, she became known in the racing world as "The Lady Outlaw."