Remembering Denise McCluggage

Last week, the auto world lost a true original with the passing of race-car driver, writer and all around auto enthusiast Denise McCluggage.

A giant in the field, Denise McCluggage, 88, knew the ins and outs of racing. Drawing from her firsthand experiences, she wrote with an eloquence afforded only those who have been there. From racing’s golden age up through the present, McCluggage was present to offer her take. One of the original staff writers at Autoweek, she spent more than 50 years as a contributing writer, editor and one of their resident race-car drivers.

In an era when sexism was the norm, McCluggage challenged the notion that men were better drivers. A pioneer in the sport, she helped show that a woman could just as easily compete against men and, more importantly, beat them. At the 1960 Watkins Glen Grand Prix, she placed fifth. In 1962, behind the wheel of a Ferrari 250, she won the GT class at Sebring.

A living legend, McCluggage was one of a select few who represented a link to a bygone era. From sharing the track with the likes of Phil Hill to covering Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss as they blazed their way across the Grand Prixes of Europe, she was there for all the major milestones in auto racing. Her passing marks the end of an era and creates a void not easily filled.

We at the HVA would like to offer our condolences to her friends, family and all who knew her. She will be missed.