Tango Diva : Travel Stories for Women, by Women

by Stephanie Block

Vrooom! One thing you can definitely say about Gill Campbell is that she lives life in the fast lane. As the first woman CEO of the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, this high-octane Diva gives new meaning to women who love horses. Horse POWER that is!

She is one of only two top women in the whole business, her counterpart being Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course president Michelle Trueman Gajoch. Campbell says, “I have a dream job- I’m not just a woman in a man’s dream job.”

Campbell has always had motor oil running through her veins, even back in her native England where her dad was a car dealer and her two older brothers raced. Her journey to Monterey County’s famed Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca zoomed through PR and event planning. That’s when her career really picked up steam. When asked how long she’s been associated with Laguna Seca, she laughs and says a long time. As an outside promoter since 1991, unbeknownst to her, she was promoting herself most of all!

She wowed the powers that be at Laguna Seca for ten years until one day in 2001, they asked her to come down for a few months to run things while they tried to fill the top job shoes. Of course, in their minds they knew that they had already found their man, in this case a woman who owned her own PR company in Portland. And now, true to the new merchandise line that Campbell has spearheaded- hip, sloganed, shamelessly pink shirts with the noble outline of the racecourse like a Nefertiti bust turned sideways- Girls really DO Rule at Laguna Seca.

Through SCRAMP, the Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula, the non-profit arm of the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Campbell’s Raceway presents four star-studded race events annually, including the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix. The money raised goes to over 90 local charities such as women’s crisis centers and the SPCA. The entire operation is made up of dedicated volunteers from board members down to parking attendants determined to keep racing in the heart of Monterey County.

That’s right- it’s for a good cause! All the more reason to come out and enjoy a beautiful, adrenaline-filled day with the heady roar of sleek cars like so many insane birds chirping in the heart of the Laguna Seca Recreation Area, where you can even picnic and camp out with racetrack views.

Campbell’s passion is clearly racing. Is she a racer too? “I hate to go fast,” she says. Yet she shows no signs of fear in her fast track career!

She says that her job is definitely fulfilling- there is creativity and reward in what she does. Her advice? “Don’t give up on your dream.” As in, just because there’s never been a woman CEO at Laguna Seca before, don’t think that you can’t be the first.

Other girls who rule in this boys’ club include impressive pole positioned Divas like Lynn St. James, one of only a tiny handful of women to start in the Indy 500. Denise McCluggage is a famous racer turned reporter, writing about the lanes she once scorched. Sarah Fisher and Danica Patrick are young women to keep an eye on. And Vicki O’Connor is the Managing Director of the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama.

As Campbell escorted me back to SCRAMP front doors, I caught a glimpse of the Salinas Valley through the windows, and I could hear tire rubber squealing in the distance. I turned to her and said that we at Tango Diva just love meeting powerful, exciting women.

The Visionary Diva replied, “When you meet one, let me know.”

2005 Event Schedule

April 29-May 1 — U.S. Sports Car Invitational presented by Shell V-Power,
featuring Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series

July 8-10 — Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix, featuring the MotoGP World
Championship

August 19-21 — 32nd Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races presented by
Chrysler

Oct. 14-16 — Monterey Sports Car Championships, featuring the American Le
Mans Series

For information about upcoming events at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, visit www.laguna-seca.com.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: