The Colorado Motorsports Hall of Fame will recognize the Powder Puff Club of Denver with the 2023 J.C. Agajanian Award, given for outstanding contributions to Colorado Motorsports by an organization. The club featured women drivers competing in Modifieds and Compact Cars at Lakeside Speedway from 1955 to 1977.
Powder Puff events were not unusual at racetracks throughout the country in many types of racing. Such races often featured women drivers as a novelty, with one or two events held as “specials” during a racing season. In the Powder Puff Club of Denver, women raced in an independent series with rules formulated by its own board of directors, and competed in races on a weekly basis. While the drivers most often competed in cars owned by Colorado Auto Racing Club drivers, they were not a CARC division.
The club consisted of drivers and workers. The workers were essential in organizing events and were in the grandstands each week distributing a printed program the club produced, and all club members followed a dress code of white pants and shirts with a red vest. It should be noted that the attitudes of the days prevailed in the early years of the club, and a long-standing rule that prevented women from entering the pits was followed. Club drivers would qualify their cars, leave the pits and return for their races.
The Powder Puff races were popular with the Lakeside crowd. The front runners were able to turn lap times that were comparable with those of their male counterparts, as evident in the record of qualifications. It was not unusual for a Powder Puff driver to out-qualify the male driver of the same car on a given evening, and in a Labor Day Weekend event in 1967, Peggy Plue set the fastest time for the entire field of both male and female drivers.
The races that seem to trigger the most vivid memories decades later are those in the modified division, featuring fast cars in close competition with an occasional “racing incident” to spice up the evening. The move to a compact car division came toward the end of the Club’s existence, after which the Powder Puff club dissolved, and the drivers began to enter racing events independently.
Like other female racers, such as Denise McCluggage in sports cars, Janet Guthrie in Indy Cars, and Cheryl Glass in Sprint Cars, the women in the Powder Puff Club of Denver were pioneers in their sport, predating female race drivers like Jamie Bubak Trengrove, who claimed the season Championship in the Mod Coupe division at Colorado National Speedway in 2014 and 15. Their racing accomplishments are early proof of what is now a reality, that women have become an important part of motorsports and are fully capable of competing with their male counterparts when the opportunity is presented.
In recognition of their racing excellence, we are now honored to induct the Powder Puff Club of Denver into the Colorado Motorsports Hall of Fame with the 2023 J. C. Agajanian Award!