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FERNS: Building Blocks

The year was 2009. I was 13 years old and all I wanted to do was drive a race car. At that point in my motorsports endeavors, I was racing as often as I could, no matter the series, type of car or, quite frankly, how much money I would make. I was completely obsessed.

But how does one accrue the necessary assets to fulfill the dreams and enjoy a long-standing motorsports career? Insert racing legend Lyn St. James.

One evening during that time, I received an email extending an invitation to Lyn St. James’ Women in the Winner’s Circle Academy in Phoenix.

Naturally, I accepted. A few months later, I went to Phoenix, met Lyn and her team and participated in a three-day program that concentrated on marketing, media, fitness and nutrition.

We had the opportunity to work with world-class trainers and nutritionists, learn from a high-profile mental preparation expert and partake in mock interviews. All of us in attendance were presented with the necessary tools to take our careers to the next level. It was up to us how we applied them.

Taylor Professional SpeakerFrom there, Lyn took me under her wing by mentoring me and introducing me to key players across the motorsports industry, while also lending support at my races.

I was grateful for all she did, but given that I was so young I didn’t recognize how the lessons I learned during my time with Lyn and her program would positively impact not only my motorsports career, but also my education and off-track professional ventures.

As the years progressed and I advanced through the sport, attended universities and excelled in my role at The Sam Bernstein Law Firm, those lessons were brought to the forefront.

I was exceptional in certain areas of my work in large part due to the skills and acumen gained throughout my experiences as an adolescent attributed to Lyn St. James: How to hold a conversation, how to network, how to give a great interview and be mindful of certain tendencies, how to eat properly and tailor my workouts to my race craft, how to deal with mental preparation and, most importantly, knowing my own worth.

As of the last few years, I began to refer to different periods of learning and development as an element, or stepping-stone, in the building blocks of life. Not biological, but more so philosophical. The pinnacle being the attainment of our purpose and/or ultimate goal(s).

Meeting Lyn and having her introduce me to crucial aspects of the industry was one layer of my personal building blocks.

Since my return to motorsports, I have had a second chance at applying what Lyn demonstrated to me years earlier. Additionally, it has also allowed me to incorporate thought processes and decision-making techniques from my personal work and schooling into my racing and pass them on to the next generation of young racers — more building blocks.

Moving my operation from Michigan to Indiana over the offseason; attending sponsorship commitments and speaking engagements; negotiating with vendors; maintaining and adhering to our team budget; increasing social-media interactions; networking; facilitating; and orchestrating a lot of the behind-the-scenes efforts with my crew chief, Kevin Besecker – every piece of the puzzle was crucial in preparing Fern Racing for the USAC Silver Crown season ahead.

In addition, my team and I have been working so hard to find the necessary funds to go racing. From connecting with representatives at companies I have met in passing to reaching out to sponsors from the past, I was in the midst of utilizing my networking specialties to the best of my abilities.

Then, one phone conversation changed the game in a significant way. Bradford Allen, a Chicago-based commercial real estate firm, truly came into the fold to support my racing program like knights in shining armor.

There truly is no formula for getting a sponsor or how to properly market yourself. Everyone is going to have something different to offer regarding sponsorship and how to secure it. But one thing that remains universal throughout it all is that the skills necessary to achieve this cannot be easily taught or acquired. Instead, these assets are gained through learned behavior.

In addition, people can easily decipher what is authentic and what is a sales pitch. When you genuinely care and are passionate about what you are saying, that speaks volumes about your love for whatever it may be that is being discussed. Be authentic. Be real. Effectively demonstrate your passion. You have to believe in yourself in order for others to feed off your energy and have faith in you as well.

Everything that has happened to me throughout my life thus far, with the help of great people, has led me to this point in my careers. There are no truer words than what is represented through the saying, “Everything happens for reason.”

It’s just getting to the reason.


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This story appeared in the March 22, 2023 edition of the SPEED SPORT Insider.

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