Review from The New York Times

Reviewed on: 12/09/2012

Track etiquette, the geometry of the blend line, what all those colored flags mean, and how to clean stubborn brake dust off your wheels. That’s what rookie racecar drivers learn.

As a novice, Ingrid Steffensen got more out of the experience than just the fun and the practical. As a suburban mom, wife and professional academic, whipping a Lotus Elise around at 120 miles per hour led to an unexpected turn in her life’s path.

In “Fast Girl,” Ms. Steffensen recounts the year after her first high-performance driving course at Watkins Glen International in upstate New York. That weekend at the racetrack developed into an obsession with auto racing and produced a collection of witty insights gleaned from the physics, exhilaration and culture of amateur racing. Success on the track emboldened her to take new risks: tasting her husband’s snail appetizer, dining in a restaurant alone and ditching a career as a college lecturer to try her hand as a writer.

Ms. Steffensen deftly takes on some of the adverse aspects of this rich man’s sport, including the risk of injury, particularly with an adolescent at home, and the environmental cost of filling the gas tank twice on track days. The peculiarities of being the rare woman on the track enliven this entertaining account. But Ms. Steffensen remains good-natured about the male-dominated car culture, arguing that the intense powers of concentration of the “mommy mind” help her excel. NADIA TAHA

Interview with Dustin Dumas, “Dustin’s Kaleidoscope” SOMA TV:

Review from Publisher’s Weekly
Reviewed on: 06/18/2012

High-performance driving at terrific speeds has proved the elixir to the “Mommy Mind,” as New Jersey professor of art and architecture Steffensen writes in this cheeky, voluble memoir. A busy professional, wife to her evidently wealthy and devoted high school sweetheart, Mr. B, and mother to the Divine Miss M, Steffensen was living a comfortable, complacent life in New Jersey suburbs when her husband introduced her to his addictive hobby: car racing.

From her first weekend at Watkins Glen International Raceway in upstate New York to later mastery of the tortuous Summit Point Motorsports Park in West Virginia, she was hooked on the adrenaline high and the diesel fumes. Through vigorous instruction both in the classroom and in her Mini Cooper—her husband later bought her a Lotus Elise—Steffensen learned the geometry of the Line, driving in the rain, the sacred etiquette of passing, the necessity of vehicular maintenance, and how to shrug off the testicular language of the track rats.

In her entertaining, tongue-in-cheek sendup of the self-help confessional, she writes of the feminist release, Zen-like concentration, and simple fun of high-performance driving, while downplaying (but still honestly addressing) the environmental toll and sheer wastefulness of this speedy sport.

Agent: Barbara Braun, Barbara Braun Associates. (Sept.)

Article in

Thursday, September 27, 2012
By Lindsey Kelleher
The Item of Millburn and Short Hills

New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville, Watkins Glen, N.Y., and Summit Point, W. Va. are among some racetracks Short Hills resident and racecar driver Ingrid Steffensen goes to drive her yellow 2005 Lotus Elise. Steffensen took her racecar to South Mountain Reservation Sept. 24 to show off its style and performance to a reporter from The Item of Millburn and Short Hills.

Getting ready to go for a ride on the race track is almost like arming oneself for a battle, according to Short Hills resident and race car driver Ingrid Steffensen.

Helmet — check. Gloves — check. Neck brace — check. Putting on a moisturizing lip gloss and wearing flexible and thin shoes are other important things race car drivers should do to prepare for a ride.

But once in the driver’s seat, Steffensen said for her, driving is about going on a journey. She talks about her experiences on this journey of driving around on different racetracks — mostly in the northeastern part of the United States — in her new book “Fast Girl,” which came out this month. (to read more, click on link above)