Women of The FIRM: Lisa Tucker | @The FIRM Rally School

Women of The FIRM: Lisa Tucker

The Driver-
Name- Lisa Tucker
Age- 50
Racing Number-  73
Affiliation (if team)- N/A
Sponsors- N/A
Hometown- Orlando, FL
Occupation- Boeing 737 Airline Pilot
Driving Debut- September 2019

The Car-
Year/Make/Model:   2001 Mazda Miata LS
Nickname and reason behind the nickname(if applicable):   Tiffy Blue (she’s the color of a Tiffany & Co gift box)
Racing class:  N/A – Novice Level
Custom bodywork and/or paint:   N/A
What engine is in the car?  1.8L I-4 DOHC
Cooling setup: Mishimoto Radiator
Horsepower and torque: 142 Hp/125 Lb-Ft.
Transmission: 5 Speed Manual with O/D
Front and rear axle: Stock RWD 4.30 ratio
Suspension: FCM Elite Coilovers
Brake setup: Stock Miata NB Sport Brakes with Gloc R10 & R8 pads
Wheels & Tires, brands and sizes: Street Tires – Continental ECS

Like many people out there, Boeing 737 pilot Lisa Tucker had not realized just how accessible participation in motorsports could be. On the outside, it is easy to look in and think that the only people behind the wheel are sponsored professionals with full race teams;  “I always thought the only people who did this kind of thing were pro drivers with race teams and whatnot – not that anyone with a car and a passion for driving could actually just go out and do it!” shares Lisa. Her biggest challenge was simply realizing that performance driving was and is an accessible hobby.

Fortunately for Lisa, several of her coworkers happen to be driving enthusiasts who participate in High Performance Driving Education (HPDE), autocross or other competitive racing events.  They openly shared their experiences with her, explaining how she could get involved and what was required to begin. At this time, Lisa was introduced to The FIRM, where she says her “adventure truly began”. 

In the fall of 2019, she visited The FIRM.  Having never done any type of high performance driving, or anything that could even relate – Lisa opted to sign up for a HPDE driving course. In this specially designed course, she was accompanied by an instructor, in a race prepped caged car for a full day on a closed course. The course “gave me the confidence to realize this was very much something I could do – and couldn’t wait to do again. I’ve done several track sessions with a few of the (FIRM) staff instructors, and was fortunate enough to do a Rallycross training course, too!

After starting out in a Z4M Roadster, Lisa decided to purchase a dedicated car for track.  In June 2020 she found her 2001 Mazda Miata LS (#73), which she refers to as “Tiffy Blue”, being that the car is the color of a Tiffany & Co. gift box.  The little rear wheel drive blue Miata is a mostly stock 5 speed fitted with a Mishimoto radiator, FCM Elite Coilovers and stock Miata NB sport brakes with Gloc
R10 & R8 pads.  With a fair amount of work to get it running and reliable, like many Miata owners, Lisa feels that it has become a good little track car. “It’s the perfect car to help me develop as a driver. Affordable consumables, handles great and just puts a smile on my face!”

Currently, Lisa is working her way up the HPDE ladder in hopes to compete in Time Trials at some point. As she works towards her goals, she is preparing to upgrade to race seats, harnesses and do some suspension upgrades.   Over the last two years she has done events with Hagarty Track Days, SCCA Central Florida Region, NASA Florida Division, Just Track It Track Days, and she participates in Open Track Days regularly at the FIRM.

“Living in central Florida, The FIRM is an amazing resource-right in my own backyard. With open track days available most weekends, there is nowhere else I can get as much seat time as I can at the FIRM. I’ve been able to take specialized classes in driving skills, spend time on the skid pad, and try my hand at the miles of rallycross trails available. The caliber of the instructional staff is second to none. The best way to develop as a driver is seat time – and I get tons of it at The FIRM!” 

Along with getting more seat time and focusing on growing her driving skills, Lisa is becoming more involved with the maintenance and preparation of Tiffy Blue.  She says she is still learning what to look for regarding the wear and tear of a car that spends the majority of its life on track.  Her husband’s passion is mechanical and frequently tackles the majority of the work done on the little blue Miata. Although her husband rarely attends events with her, he is hugely supportive of her hobby and rather than racing cars, he would rather work on them and keep Lisa on track.  

Flying solo at many of the events she attends is something Lisa truly enjoys. “It allows me to concentrate on doing my own thing, as well as gives me the time and freedom to talk at length with others in between sessions. I’m still learning, and have so much to learn, I like being able to pick peoples brains at length. Being here on my own gives me time to do that”. 

“If you can see it, you can be it”.  As a young person, she had always wanted to fly and it was the NASA Space Program that had a large influence on her, particularly that of astronaut Sally Ride.  After seeing the first female airline pilot she was truly inspired.  Other influences that played a role in her drive was German professional motor racing driver and television personality Sabine Schmitz. After seeing her on Top Gear, Lisa was pushed from being just a spectator to becoming a driver.  When asked what advice she would give to another female interested in racing or driving she said “stop coming up with reasons you can’t, and just get started! Don’t be afraid to go out and do it – everyone was just a beginner at one point”.

Driving is certainly a unique experience for each driver, but there is something unified about the escape it provides for drivers. “Learning something new, the rush of the experience, and I find driving a great diversion – I can go to the track and I leave everything else outside the gates – work/life stress, worries – there’s no room for any of that while I’m concentrating on the track. It allows me to focus on something very visceral, and I find it recharges me” she shares. 

Lisa’s time behind the wheel and experiences at The FIRM have led her to become a Drivers Club Member. “It allows me to get tons of seat time and to have plenty of opportunities to get out on the track – without having to worry about planning my schedule weeks or months in advance”. On any given weekend during an Open Track Day you can find yourself on track amongst Porsches, BMWs, fully prepped race cars of every vintage and class, someone’s track queen and even someone’s daily driver.    The FIRM is not just a race track, it’s a community where you will meet people from all walks of life, spanning across all genders, races, ages and status.

As a licensed pilot and aircraft mechanic for over 30 years, it wasn’t uncommon for her to be the only woman in her line of work. Likewise, she is often one of the only female drivers on course, but being the only woman has never stopped her before. “The instructors at the FIRM have been wonderful in building my confidence, and in creating a welcoming environment in which I could thrive. It’s a great atmosphere here, and although there are only occasionally other females out on the track driving, there are quite frequently female friends and family of other drivers, as well as staff members, so I don’t feel alone! But I’d love to see more women out there – and would be happy to talk to anyone who had questions about where to begin!” The community at The FIRM is one of a kind and it is our goal to continue to encourage and introduce more women into the world of driving.

Lisa is a perfect example of overcoming adversity and challenge, and as a 50 year old woman, she is a leading example of following your passion.  “I think about how much fun, and how rewarding this hobby has become for me – and then about how long it took me to  get involved. I would say to anyone who has ever thought, maybe it would be fun…..TO JUST DO IT! Stop waiting, I wish I had started this ages ago. You don’t need anything over the top to get started, and everyone was a beginner at some point, so don’t be intimidated! And if you’re a wife or partner, or friend hanging out here supporting someone else driving – take the keys and hop in one day and give it a try. I guarantee you will have the time of your life and be hooked!”

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