I am asked from time to time: “When are you going to do your autobiography?” I answer: “I don’t do fiction.” That reply has become a set piece and usually gets a laugh. A suggestion came back from a knowing colleague: “Just call it a memoir – that’s what I did. Then it’s as accurate as you can remember. It doesn’t have to be ‘true.’”
In memoir, autobiography or biography truth is present in various percentages. As Barbara Kinsolving said Memory and Truth are relatives but not twins. The same can be said of Fact. Memory and Fact grow more distantly related as time intervenes. And even Fact and Truth often seem to be born of parents barely acquainted. That’s why fictionalized biography often has more “truth” than a diligently researched biography trailing footnotes through its pages.
One intent of this “bio” section on my website was to point out the detected errors in pieces written about me. But that began to bloom into something magnificently egotistical. How could it possibly matter to the world at large whether a British newspaper once identified me as six-feet tall and a Milwaukee one as “petite?” I am neither.
But I did note with some amusement that a photograph taken in Phoenix recently showed me of almost equal height to the long-haired young beauty standing next to me. The fact that Danica Patrick was wearing four-inch heels and that I had lost some three inches to the dried-apple shrinkage of aging made that level-headedness possible. In my ideal self as I was growing up I hoped to be 5’8” but only my leggy older sister reached that perceived perfection. I think I reached 5’61/2” at my loftiest. Tall by world standards, nothingsville by mine. And now my head turtles into my elevating shoulders and now photographs mark me as level with a stiletto-heeled Danica whom I thought of as “a tiny thing” when I was first introduced to her some years ago at Pebble Beach by Bobby Rahal. And, Bobby—speaking of height – always seems every time I see him - four inches taller than I remember him.
Which returns us to musings about Memory and Truth. Over time I will natter on in this space about things written that I know to be complete misunderstandings, or misstatements. Not, be thankful, all about me. But if I write about them I cannot be totally removed. Ah, and now Heisenberg raises his principal. I’ll muse about that and the myth of objective reporting and Truth and Fact. And perception. And why – truth here – I am better at it than most.
And I will relate some tales that involve someone identified as me at ages like three and nine and twelve and so on. Biographical. And “auto” by definition. Thus overtime this, on my car site, will be my “Auto-Biography”. Fact, Truth, Fiction, and probably Untruths but never Lies. Lies indicate a collaborative relationship with denial which I am not up for – or down to.
Stop by now and again and see what I recall and if it’s worth your time to look at.
A Racer Named Denise
ROAD & TRAVEL MAGAZINE — Journalist. Race car driver. Sports reporter. Photographer. Intellectual. And friend to about a zillion people. Denise McCluggage has worn all these hats; many of them so very well. If there was ever a woman that defined "cerebral personality," basically someone who genuinely maximizes the potential of their brain and spirit — it's Denise. Recounting what she has accomplished, and where's she's been in her life, would be a long list indeed, but a fun one for sure. Fortunately, she's far from finished adding to it. Read More >>
Automotive Hall of Fame
INDUCTEE, DENISE MCCLUGGAGE — One of the first female motor-sports writers and race car drivers in the United States. Helped found Competition Press, known today as AutoWeek. Read More >>
First Woman Inductee!
ROAD & TRAVEL MAGAZINE — It's yet another impressive first for McCluggage, a respected and humble pioneer in the world of automotive and sports journalism. Don't forget to add author, race car driver and photographer to that list. As one of the first female sportswriters in the 1950s, McCluggage covered primarily motor racing and skiing for the New York Herald Tribune before becoming a member of numerous racing and rallying teams across the nation and abroad. Read More >>
Wikipedia: Denise McCluggage
Denise McCluggage (born 1927) is an American auto racing driver, journalist, author and photographer. McCluggage was a pioneer of equality for women in the U.S., both in motorsports as well as in journalism. Read More >>
The Henry Ford
Denise McCluggage was credited in the past as being one of the top women race drivers in America during her racing years, yet her list of accomplishments and interests extends well beyond motor racing. Besides participating in motorsports, she spent a great deal of time skiing, even serving as an instructor at one point. Her adventurous spirit can further be exemplified by her parachuting out of an airplane. [PDF] Read More >>
Denise started out as a motorsports journalist before embarking on a long and varied driving career in the late 1950s. She took part in many international sports car races and saloon events, picking up a number of class wins. Unusually for an American, she drove in rallies in Europe and the Americas as well as circuit races. Read More >>
BOOK REVIEW: By Brooks Too Broad For Leaping — If you were at all interested in cars during those years, then you would love this book. In the late 50s — early 60s, when I first started driving, I didn't want to be LIKE Denise McCluggage. No, I wanted to BE Denise McCluggage. Obviously, that couldn't work. This book is almost the next best thing. Read More >>