Sheri Graham raced at Lakeside Speedway from 1965 to 1974, driving her way to many trophy dashes and main event victories while earning four track Championships. She was a member of the Powder Puff Club of Denver, a racing organization consisting of women drivers who raced in their own events during the weekly Lakeside racing program, most often in cars owned by male drivers of the Colorado Auto Racing Club. The Powder Puff events were conducted while women’s access to pit facilities at the track was highly restricted. Sherry recalls being let onto the pits for qualifying, then leaving the area until the main event, when she was allowed in to prepare for the race.
Sheri was known as a strong qualifier, often setting quick time with marks that would have easily placed her in the middle of the men’s event for the evening, and she won her races while starting from the back of the field and working her to the front of the pack.
Sheri began her career driving a modified owned–and also driven–by her husband, Don Thurman, and won Rookie of the Year award in her first year of racing. Sherry began driving the #24 car owned by Harry Stone and Mark Bilick in 1971, then moved to the #40, also owned by Stone, in 1972. In those two seasons, Stone recalls that Sheri set quick time and won the main event every night, unless the car broke or she crashed, as happened one evening when she hit the wall during qualifying. She won the championship both seasons. Harry Stone remembers Sheri as a talented and competitive driver who out-qualified him on most nights in his car.
The male drivers of the era were most often supportive, and Roy Jackson letting Sheri drive his car to help win one of her championships was an example. She describes loving the competition with fellow racers such as Elaine Sawin, Jean Balderson, and Peggy Plue at Lakeside. Sheri also enjoyed racing at Colorado National Speedway and Intermountain Raceway in Cheyenne, and had the chance to drive in two Demo Derbies, winning one of them. She was a supportive club member who served as Vice President and board member of the Powder Puff Club over the years. She remains a race fan today and looks back on her time at Lakeside Speedway with great fondness.
Many people who were part of the Lakeside racing community remember Powder Puff races vividly, recalling races featuring close competition on the tight 1/5th mile oval, with women of the Powder Puff Club wheeling their cars with authority. Some of those who saw Sheri race have said that had she driven in a later era, she most likely would have been very competitive in a weekly racing program anywhere, not just in a women-only race class.
For her considerable competitive accomplishments, Sheri Graham will now be remembered as a racer in the Colorado Motorsports Hall of Fame.