Donna Littlejohn – Hippy Chick and SCCA Solo National Champion
Watching Donna Littlejohn in her Corvette on an autocross course is best described as liquid… and it didn’t happen over night. Donna’s skills were honed right here in the south at regional autocrosses and they led her to a 2009 SCCA A Street Prepared Ladies National Championship. You will see her driving and working at many events here in the southeast from Solo to PDX and Time Trials. When she’s not in the car, she quick to help or advise and her passion for the sport is visible in her smile. On the line when her right foot lifts off the brake and heads toward the accelerator, she is focused and all business. She has learned how to get the most out of her car and to read courses quickly… driving at a National level, there is little room for error with only 3 runs per course. There is however a BIG room in her house that is filled with awards and trophies… proof… that this self proclaimed “Hippy Chick” can DRIVE. Here’s a little more about Donna!
Born: Cincinnati, OH
Grew up: Fort Myers, FL
1 Husband, 3 Sons, 1 Daughter, 5 Grandchildren
Retired Microsoft –I held several different positions during my tenure at Microsoft ranging from National Retail Accounts, Southeast Training Director and OEM Senior Account Manager just to name a few. Although Microsoft is not the tech darling it was several years ago, I really enjoyed working with some very driven and ambitious team members across the country. However, working and traveling sometimes up to 80 hours a week finally took its toll and I retired in 2000. And, in case you’re wondering, yes, I’ve met Bill Gates… several times J
Cars presently owned:
2 Corvettes (1 show car, 1 race car), a Ford “Explosion” tow vehicle, a Mercedes E350 daily driver
Favorite past cars owned:
1964 Corvette Convertible (325), 1968 Corvette Convertible (454)
I’ve won several regional and club level awards, but I am proudest to say I have won 2 national titles for autocross. In 2006 I won the NCCC (National Council of Corvette Clubs) Championship and in 2009, on my first trip to SCCA Nationals; I won the ASPL National Championship.
Your favorite childhood memory involving cars:
I have truly been around cars all my life. My grandfather had car sales business in the 1930’s and even during the depression and World War 2 when many people weren’t able to buy new cars, he had a car repair business that supported the family. My father was a part of that business since he was very young and built a career as a top mechanic and successful body shop owner. As a result, I was well aware of all kinds of cars at an early age. My dad often told his customers that I could name all the cars I saw on the street when I was only 3 years old.
Most people know I’m a big fan of “America’s Sports Car”. My love of Corvette started the very day a high school friend let me drive his dad’s yellow 1966 convertible down the (mostly untraveled) beach highway near Fort Myers, Florida where I lived. I was only 16 when I realized that, after laying my first serious patch of rubber on the highway and rolling through the gears, I would have to own a car like this one day.
What you enjoy most about motorsports:
The competition and camaraderie top the list for me. Some of the best friends I have made in my entire life are people I met because of my Corvette or my autocross activities.
Advice to up and coming drivers :
ONE: Don’t forget the fun factor. If going to events to compete gets to be too much work and you’re not having fun, find something else to occupy your free time.
TWO: Consider going to a driving school and get some professional instruction at some point. It is very helpful and most productive to have someone give you some constructive criticism and some practical pointers on tweaking your driving skill set and be more competitive. Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch tops the list for me. I’ve been there 3 times!
THREE: Take the time to help someone just starting in the sport. Ultimately, no matter how much raw natural talent you think you have, you had to start somewhere! Pay it forward and take a novice for a ride or share some tips. What goes around, comes around.
Favorite professional driver past or present :
Former Corvette Racing driver, now with the Cadillac Racing Team, Johnny O’Connell. I had the opportunity to meet and talk with him several times at ALMS races and found him to be genuine, extremely personable and happy to talk to race fans like they were long lost friends. Great guy, excellent role model and one heck of a driver.
Favorite road to drive :
Tail of the Dragon comes to mind…
Your future racing plans :
I’ve begun to try to advance my driving skills by getting some experience behind the wheel of some different types of cars. I’m determined to continue to learn and improve and this is one way to do that.
Anything you’d like to share about yourself, motorsports or experiences:
I’m the gearhead in the family. Although my kids have tried their skills at my most loved sport, my husband is not a car guy! He was never around cars growing up like I was and never really had an interest in cars in general. However, because he is an avid snow skier, when he has the opportunity to come with me to an autocross and we walk the course together, he can “read” the driving line just like I do. Running the gates of a Slalom or Giant Slalom proves to be very similar to driving a tight line around cones. Very different sports with a very similar way to navigate elements!
Finally, I sincerely wish more women would give competitive driving a try. It’s really a great way to help you learn the capabilities of your car-something most women don’t seem to be entirely aware of. Who hasn’t had the need to suddenly react when someone pulls out in front of you while driving on any street or highway? Autocross can absolutely make you a better driver.
Favorite story from your driving career :
Well not exactly a favorite story, but a good learning experience. The very first autocross I attended, I thought I was doing really well… feeling very proud of myself for getting through the day without hitting a single cone. At the end of the day when I went to look at the score board/times, I saw that I had run 5 DNF runs. No one told me where I missed elements on the course. I felt really bad and considered never trying it again. Today, when I see someone miss something on course, I go out of my way to make sure that they are aware of their mistake and try to help them correct it. I want new people to love this sport as much as I do. Helping to make initial experiences positive will hopefully foster continued attendance!
Thanks Donna! We all appreciate your effort in bringing home a Championship for us Southern drivers and for continuing to support the growth of motorsports. Continued success and … you need to start remodeling that trophy room. You are going to need MORE space!