Linda Vaughn’s amazing career began with little fanfare, starting as a beauty queen at the local racetrack. Five decades later, Vaughn finds herself in a world beyond anything she could have imagined as a young girl in Georgia. From trophy queen to motorsports icon, the unsinkable Miss Vaughn has never been given enough credit for being an exceptional business woman.
Excerpts From The Book
“One thing I do want to clear up here is in regard to A. J.’s book. It had a story about A. J. getting pulled over for speeding while I was riding with him, and he said that I flashed the officer to get A.J. out of the ticket, but that was a bunch of crap and everyone knew it.”
“I have loved several men, but I can honestly say that Jim Clark was the love of my life.”
Call it what you will, but the fact remains that no other model, spokesperson, or sports personality, has had a longer career based initially on appearance. There’s nothing accidental in Linda’s ascent to iconic status. Her longevity and success has been attained in large part due to her intelligence.
We’re happy that Vaughn has finally decided to document her life in manuscript form, with personal insights from every detail of her life – both public and private. Her new book Linda Vaughn: The First Lady of Motorsports, written with veteran motorsports writer Rob Kinnan, represents Vaughn’s life in macrocosm. There is never a doubt that Vaughn marched to her own drumbeat, her charisma through inner and external beauty made other women want to be like her, and men want to be with her.
“Linda is a very loyal person, and she had already been working on a book with Brock Yates,” explained Rob Kinnan. “That’s why she turned down other offers to do a book. Yates began to struggle with health issues, and that opened the door for other opportunities.” Brock Yates endured a long battle with Alzheimers, and ultimately succumbed to the disease on October 5, 2016.
“CarTech had seen my interview with Linda from 2010, in an old series we called ‘In Their Own Words,’ and they liked it. They called and asked if I was interested in doing a book in that same format,” said Kinnan. The In Their Own Words interview series drew information from motorsports celebrities involving their lives and the life stories about others. Many times, long forgotten mechanics or people that tended to be in the background were identified and discussed during the interviews, finally getting their day in the sun. “With Yates’ health in decline, Linda must have felt that the timing was right and the project was right.” he added.
Everyone has a Linda story. Our editor has his own Linda story from a recent encounter last September.
Everyone Has A Linda Story
By now everyone has a personal, favorite Linda Vaughn story. Ours came late last year at a gathering in Hollywood, at Bruce Meyer’s garage. Vaughn had suffered a heart attack just three weeks prior, but was still able to make the event and be the center of attention as always. Our editor, who has an implanted pacemaker, was sharing heart attack stories with Vaughn. She was invited to feel the editor’s implanted pacemaker device. Once she had felt the lump under the skin, he proclaimed “My turn.” Vaughn smiled sweetly and said, “I don’t have a pacemaker. Not yet anyway, but that was a nice try.”
We called the wonderful Miss Vaughn to get some insight on her new book. The first question we asked was pretty basic. “What part of the book is your favorite?” Always the clever marketer, Vaughn replied, “Why don’t you buy the book, read it, then tell me what is your favorite part?” Touche, Miss Vaughn. Touche. This is exactly why she has managed to survive in this industry for so long.
Who Is Linda Vaughn?
We asked Vaughn what people should be looking for when they read the book. “Just getting to know me on the inside,” Vaughn replied. “I think that kinda sums it up. I enjoy getting comments from the people that have read it. Mario [Andretti] absolutely loved it and that’s why we worked so hard on it.”
This opened up the door for us to have the wonderful lady to tell us about Linda Vaughn. “Who is Linda Vaughn?” we prompted. “A real person,” she replied. “With a real love for this industry and our sport. Whether it be drag racing, stock car racing, Indy car racing, Formula One racing or sport car racing. I mean… I love this sport.”
Her replies are passionate, so they come off as intense. When coupled with that syrup-sweet, light Georgia drawl, there is just something honestly sensual in her responses. She is our hero, and we do a little hero-worshiping, but we are allowed that. We bought the book specifically for that reason.
Vaughn still gets approached for selfies with her adoring fans where ever she goes.
She is honest, but don’t make the mistake of thinking she will take cheap shots at people or be a part of a kiss and tell book. “She never talks crap about anyone,” said Kinnan. “I think that is why the industry loves her. You don’t last sixty years in this industry if you are not liked and respected.”
“I love this industry,” said Vaughn. “It’s my life, and I’m married to it. It is passion and it is medicine. It is also tears and there are sad moments.” Vaughn refers to her life-long friends and loves in motorsports. She has no enemies. Everyone is either a good friend or a friend she hasn’t met yet.
Losing The Ones You Love
“Losing the ones you love is the hardest part of this sport,” she admits, but would not say which loss was the most difficult. “I’d rather not answer that question,” said the icon. Vaughn is many things to everyone in motorsports. She is a best friend, a lover, a wife, a teacher, a role model, and an expert. When she says “I’d rather not answer that question,” her motherly side comes out and you instinctively know not to go any further.
The book is amazing on several levels. There is the feel good story of a young lady that came from humble beginnings to become the most loved and recognized person in motorsports. Then there is the emotional story of a woman that experienced the greatest highs and the saddest losses in her journey. The most triumphant feature of Linda Vaughn’s life story is her never-ending optimistic attitude. If you buy the book for nothing else, at least buy it because her positive attitude is infectious.
“This is book one,” she said. “There are some things we could have done better, and will do better in the next one.” If that doesn’t tell you how much Linda Vaughn pushes herself to excellence, then nothing else will.