Adam Torres and Cindy Sisson discuss WIMNA.
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Women in Motorsports North America is a community of professionals supporting opportunities for women across all motorsports disciplines. In this episode, Adam Torres interviewed Cindy Sisson, Executive Director at Women in Motorsports North America. Explore PRI and the WIMNA mission to support women in motorsports.
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About Cindy Sisson
Cindy is an executive director, founder, business advisor, and marketer with over 25 years of experience in creating and executing strategic plans for success. She has a proven track record of working with diverse clients and partners across the automotive, sports, health, and entertainment industries, delivering award-winning initiatives and generating significant results.
As the Executive Director of Women in Motorsports North America, Cindy is passionate about supporting women throughout the automotive industry by providing them with opportunities, resources, and networks. Her mission is to help women get in the left seat to achieve their dreams and expand their businesses.
Cindy also runs GSEvents, an agency that connects premium automotive and performance lifestyle brands with a discerning audience, and Agency Won, a consulting firm that helps clients enter key target markets and build new relationships.
A community of professionals devoted to supporting opportunities for women across all disciplines of motorsport by creating an inclusive, resourceful environment to foster mentorship, advocacy, education, and growth, thereby ensuring the continued strength and successful future of our sport.
Full Unedited Transcript
Hey, I’d like to welcome you to another episode of Mission Matters. My name is Adam Torres, and I’m proud to announce we’re out in Indianapolis, Indiana, and I’m at PRI. Today, my guest on the show is Cindy Sisson, and she is with Women in Motorsports North America. Cindy, welcome to the show. It’s an honor to be here.
It’s a busy, busy day. Well, Cindy, I’m excited to learn more about Women in Motorsports North America, but before we get into that, how did you get started in the industry? I think I was born in China. I was actually born in Santa Fe, California. My dad worked at General Motors, and that was where my love of cars started.
My first car was a 64 and a half Mustang and a 68 Camaro, so all the boys liked me. So I thought, I’m going to stay in the automotive industry. That’s awesome. Yeah, I’m from Michigan. I’m from Detroit originally, so I grew up being a car guy, and my dad had an auto body shop, so I mean, I fell in love with it, and I Coming out to PRI, I’m not even gonna lie, was a good excuse for us to get out here and Mission Matters, getting into motorsports, so having a lot of fun.
That being said, women in motorsports. Tells us about the organization. Sure, Women in Motorsports North America is a community of professionals focused on advocating for women in the industry. It doesn’t mean just a race car driver, it’s a race car driver, it’s an engineer, it’s a PR specialist, it’s a hospitality specialist.
Motorsports has been around a long time. Women represent 52 percent of the world’s population. But forever, this has been a very male dominated sport. For example, if you go to a race today, any race track in America, the men have more badges. Oh. Yeah. It’s a problem when we try to do female events at these tracks, because we’ve got to figure out a way to accommodate the other half of the population.
This is a key finding that just came out. Wow. So, tell me a little bit more about the history of the organization. How’d it come about? Yeah, it came about about three years ago. We created a summit called Women With Drive. It was part of the Great name. Yeah, Women With Drive, right? Part of the IndyCar Racing, the music series, and I agree.
In fact, the chairman, Matt Grace Paul, I mean, he says, you know We’re having our first race, and nobody does something for women to come up with something really special. So we created our first summit. We had 110 people there in a Honkytonk car, and we sold out. Beth Perretta and Lynn St. James were there.
Lynn is well known for racing at Indy. She raced her first race when she was 45 years old in 1992, and won rookie of the year and raced seven races at Indy. Two years ago, Beth Breda filled in almost all women’s in the in the Lynn was in the pits. She saw what Beth had done, and she cried. And she said, finally, we may have made it.
So, the group put together about 40 men and women, and we all worked together, six months, developed a, called it a plan, a mission statement, on if we started a family mission, how would it work, and where would we go. We were incorporated in April of 2022. It’s gone big. We had our second summit in Charlotte last year at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
We had 330 people. We sold out again. Last month, we had our third summit. It was at Phoenix Raceway. We had 450 people. And again, sold out. And what’s special about that summit is we had 58 speakers. Excuse me, 58 sponsors. 98 speakers. Seven keynotes. 42 were female race car drivers. That’s never been done before.
We’re 42 women drivers are in one room at one time. And the audience is about 80 percent female and 20 percent male. But the males that are in this group are the president of NASCAR, Steve Phelps, the president of Insta, John Doonan, the head of SRO, Jim Jordan. So we tend to bring in the most key and punctual people in the industry.
And we’re all making. What do you attribute some of success to this to like it’s just an amazing story what what do you think make it so successful our mission
Our mission is a very benevolent one. It’s to grow this for It can be done by advancing more women in the industry But also for the fans letting women know that they can be a fan of this book. They can be feel welcome We’re actually, as you said, at PRI right now. PRI, Performance Racing Industry. Let’s look around.
Let’s count a hundred people. I don’t see one woman. Oh, there’s one, right there. My hope is, in years to come, every other woman would be next to you. That you would see more women, as much as possible. Yeah, I can see that. Until you said that, I didn’t even notice it. But now, when I think about it, when I think about the, the opportunity there, so when you think about sponsors, and you think about the industry as a whole, if you have a household with two enthusiasts now, and it’s an inclusive thing, I mean, that seems like it’s win win for the industry, for everyone around, right?
Exactly. In fact, there’s a statistic we were talking about when you make about 80 percent of the Purchasing decisions. Yeah, that’s what I’m thinking. Yeah. So if you make them feel welcome, they’re And your husband goes to the wife, he says, yeah, honey, I like this thing called owner sports. I’ll give you an example.
The last two years I had an agency prior to becoming the executive director, focused on advocating for women in all of, I hooked up with Ferrari and I did over 400 testifies with women only. Wow. 99% of the women would show up. I can’t do this. I’m not empowered. Oh, my husband or my boyfriend’s not there.
Girl, get in the car. She gets out of the car, and it’s like a whole new world. She has confidence, she’s brave, and she’s actually buying Ferraris. I’ve sold ten Ferraris by just doing women all over the test runs. But not only Ferraris, other women, Well, you might not think you can afford a Ferrari. One woman called me, and she bought a Porsche.
The next month I hear she’s starting her own Porsche club, and then her own Porsche Concord, and she’s become such a zealot by that one little 10 mile ride. Wow. So, that being said, for the people that are out here watching this, that’ll watch this far into the future, like what would be your words, whether it’s a, could be a woman, could be just a, a new to motorsports.
Enthusiasts in general. One of the things that I’ve been noticing in, in this word that I’ve heard very often as I’ve had the privilege of doing these interviews in PRI, is the word community, like the, the racing community, everything else. This is my year one, year two, I’m saying I’m family. There you go.
But year one, I’m still new in, in getting my footing. Like tell me about like what that means to your community. It’s all about the community. We, at the summit did, I don’t know what the word is, where people put in a bunch of words like what is. What does WMNA, or Women in Multisports, mean to you, when all these words show up?
Community. Wow. And so, community, to me, is also friendships. You meet new people, you build incredible friendships, you do great work together, you network together, and you lift each other up. Community is the core. So what’s your vision for the organization going Getting so many young ladies, the next generation.
I’m older. Lynn’s older. We can keep talking to ourselves, but we don’t get to be at home with the babies. You know, the 13, the 18, the 25 years old. So next year, we do track days, or track events, in partnership with Posh, GIMSA, and others, where we go find 30 women, we bring them in for a day or two, we do a tour, and then they get a ticket to the show.
Once somebody goes to a race, there’s the community they become a part of. So it’s very, very exciting. Next year is going to be really important to bring in our new community. Wow. That’s awesome. And how does digital play in this? Like digital, whether it’s social media or otherwise. I’m just curious on how the marketing is.
Something you’re doing is going great. I know you said it’s mission, it’s I get that, but like the numbers you’re doing and the people that you’re attracting, that’s, that’s phenomenal. Yeah. Well, we were very blessed this year at the summit. We had our first streamed global sponsor right here, Gainbridge.
They stepped up, they said, we want to do this, we don’t want you to charge, we want to get your mission out. That was really really cool and it really helped our social media numbers out. We’re also, I know I just talked about the past, excuse me, the future with the young ladies, but I’m also about the past and telling stories of the woman who forged.
The history. So I do a series of virtual, excuse me, I do a series of documentaries that are left behind. We’re on our third one. They are on Fox Sports, launching during Women’s History Month. Our first one was on Betty Skelton. Never heard of her, I guarantee you. Paula Murphy. She was the first woman to test drive in 1963.
Right here at the Water Speedway. And I’m just about to finish with my partner, Pam Miller. Eight time Emmy Award winner. Shirley Chacha Muldoon. The leading, most celebrated woman in drag races. Until this year, where Erika Enders and Angelle Sampson beat her. But there’s still, she’s a legend. She’s an icon.
She was here today. There would be a line all the way around the convention center because it surely demands that kind of respect. Wow. Wow. Wow. It’s amazing and I love to hear all the work that you’re doing obviously and just what the attention that you’re bringing to the sport overall and specifically for women and providing that inclusive opportunity for the sport to grow and for the next generation of convention.
2024, it’s coming on us. What’s, what’s on your, your vision for 2024? Just keeping it going, finding new opportunities just pounding the flesh, trying to get out there and tell our story. And do it in a very strategic way with our allies, men and women, hand in hand. If the men don’t know what we’re doing, they’re not going to support us.
It’s, again, historically a very male dominated environment. They have to come out, they have to. So Cindy, first I want to thank you for coming on the show. Then second, I want you to look into the camera and I want you to tell everyone how they can get involved, how they can connect, how they can follow.
Yeah. So you can go online to Women in Motorsports, na, that stands for north america.com. If you wanna check out our summit, it’s women with drive summit.com. Our social media handles our wind nuts. Excuse me. Our social media handles are womeninmotorsportsna, and you can find us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, not TikTok, a little bit of Twitter, no Snapchat, but we try to cover them all.
That’s awesome. Well, thank you again for coming to the show. And then to the audience, as always, thank you for tuning in. Hope you had a lot of fun here. We have some more interviews coming up for you at PRI. Don’t forget hit that subscribe button. Love to, love to show you some more.