The legacy of Suzy Dietrich - open wheel racing pioneer

The legacy of Suzy Dietrich - open wheel racing pioneer

Suzy Dietrich should be mentioned in the same breath with Donna Mae Mims and Janet Guthrie. Denise McLuggage called her an “enormously cute” librarian who was also hugely talented and drove a Porsche 550 to multiple records. And at 80 today, she’s ill and parting with a lifetime of racing memorabilia to pay medical expenses.

Suzy married into racing; her husband Charles was deeply involved and she didn’t enter her first race until 1953, when she was 26. Then, she entered a supercharged 1948 MG TC into a race at Cumberland, and took off from there. “I’ve pretty much been able to drive any car they put me in,” she recently told an interviewer, which included a 550 Spyder at the 1956 Nassau Speed Week races, an Elva through the end of the Fiftes, then later with former competitors as part of the Ring Free team at Daytona, an Alpine in 1966 and Mustang Cobra in 1968. A road course specialist, she said her favorite tracks were Road America and Watkins Glen, where she won the first woman’s race held there. (She’s also well known for participating in the Put-in-Bay road races – ed.)

She has a tremendous collection of memorabilia, which clearly shows her deep love of cars and racing. In addition to her personal property – trophies, etc. – there are innumerable posters, programs, magazines, books and more. Historians will particularly drool over her collections of color slides, prints and a dozens of rolls of 8MM movie film. If Suzy wasn’t in the race, she was often at it, and there’s something there from it. There are even some MG parts and manuals.

The auction by Antiques and Estate is this Sunday in Wellington, Ohio, and there’s online bidding, too. I’ve already put bids in on some of those lots.

“I may not win, but I’m hard to beat,” she said. “Don’t ever forget it.”

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