The Chicago Auto Show put on The fifth annual What Drives Her Awards. There were four outstanding nominees, and the winner was Sue Mead.
Best In Craft Media: Employed as a full-time or part-time North American journalist, content creator, or media with a focus on the automotive industry; demonstrate general excellence of craft; create work that illuminates the role of women in the automotive industry or, through voice and narrative, create more accessible automotive information and more inclusive automotive storytelling.
Why Sue Mead?
Sue Mead began her automotive career in 1988 as a freelance evaluator for Four-Wheeler Magazine, on the first team that included women as test drivers. She immediately became hooked on four-wheeling and the places it took her. Over the next few years, Mead developed relationships with all of the leading 4WD publications in the US and then began to work with the mainstream press writing columns, such as “Get off the Road,” a syndicated newspaper column, gaining a reputation as a woman who understood and could write about 4WD vehicles.
Sue Mead has attended the last two 2021 Dakar Rallies in Saudia Arabia for three weeks each year as team manager for the all-female Team, Amy Lerner. Mead has been to 72 countries covering cars. Mead was the first woman to the Dakar Rally in the OP/2 racing class for autos in 2011, as well as competing in the Baja 1000 and an inductee into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame.
“I was the first person from north or South America to win a class in the Dakar- in 2011, as you said in the OP 2 class. I began my off-road racing career in 1995 at the Baja 1000 with Rod Hall. There were a number of women who had raced it previously although very few, as was the case when I did the Dakar for the first time in 2000. I was inducted into the Off-road Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2007 as a pioneer in the field of journalism. Over my career I have raced more than 30,000 miles off-road competing in Baja 1000s, Dakars, the gazelle rally, and many other off-road races, extreme drives, and competitions. I was the first woman from the US to participate in the Camel trophy in 1995, along with Daphne Greene. I participated in four Camel trophies. I have been to 72 countries and have been off-roading in 70! I’ve been in the automotive business for 34 years and I’ve driven more than 3000 vehicles.”
As a member of the Women’s World Car of the Year (WWCOTY), the Texas Automotive Press Association (TAWA), North American Car and Truck of the Year (NACTOY) jury, and the New England Motor Press Association (NEMPA), she is very experienced at evaluating vehicles. After 33 years in the field, she has driven more than 3,000 vehicles of every shape, size, and mission in the market.
Sue was so excited to receive the award, and to have her granddaughter, Evie, attend the event that she went to Facebook to say thank you, “One of the best days of my life! Truly! Winning the What Drives Her media award was such an honor, and having my eight-year-old granddaughter Eve Marion (aka Evie) with me to watch and participate will always be savored by me and remembered by her. I was in the running with a number of top female journalists In the country and among four finalists—Jill Ciminillo, Tanya Gazdik, and Elana Scherr. That made me think a lot about their talents and, when I won, each made me feel cherished- how amazing is that?!
“There were so many colleagues, both women and men, that attended and who appreciate so much where our industry is today— it is far different from when I started 34 years ago.”
“Many people don’t know that we work in a field where colleagues become our best friends and often collaborate in deeply companionable ways- we truly support each other.”
“Eve has been a car girl already for four years and loved seeing the cars and the fanfare of the media days at the show but, as much as that, she met a cast of characters who have devotion and passion for this field- thank you Keith Turner for showing Evie all the EVs, Richard at Lincoln who turned her on to the latest upgrades in the Navigator and Jim Morrison, who challenged her to think about the new Jeep Wagoneer for the year 2030, when she can get her driving license and take seven friends along for the ride.”
“So many thanks also to so many individuals who have mentored me and carried me forward over the three decades in my field-both men and women. I am richly blessed by so many colleagues and friends, as is apparent by so many who have already posted. So grateful for each of you.”
The four Finalists were:
Jill Ciminillo, Managing Editor, Pickup Truck + SUV Talk
Tanya Gazdik, Automotive Editor, MediaPost
Sue Mead, Freelance Writer, and Off-Roading Champion
Elana Scherr, Senior Editor, Car and Driver
“We are proud to continue our partnership and support of the What Drives Her event at this year’s Chicago Auto Show,” said Kathy Gilbert, senior director, Minority Dealer, and Women Retail, CDK Global. “Our focus at CDK is to help connect the automotive industry and create a future that embraces equal representation and access for everyone. With a strong, inclusive workforce, we can collectively drive the innovation our industry needs to meet the rapidly evolving consumer expectations for simple and convenient car-buying and ownership experiences.”
Nominations came from various women within the industry ranging from female journalists, auto manufacturers, suppliers, media, and dealers.