Corvette Ladies - Ladies First

Actually, It's "Ladies Only" With This Tulsa, Oklahoma, Corvette Club

Bob Wallace Sep 1, 2002 0 Comment(s)
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Cheryl Ashley '64 Coupe
Cheryl is a registered nurse working in cardiac care at a large Tulsa-area hospital. Her Fire-Engine Red mid-year is fitted with a transplanted big-block which Cheryl says makes it, "...fully equipped for success at the race track or doing burnouts." Cheryl and her husband, Michael, have four daughters and she relates that having a Corvette enables the Ashley family to have fun together, in activities they can all participate.

Corvettes and lace. If that isn't a textbook definition of cognitive dissonance, I don't know what is. Corvettes are bold, brash, loud, fast, and, in many instances, macho. Lace? Well, my 4-inch-thick Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language starts off its definitions of lace as, "A netlike ornamental fabric made of threads by hand or machine." I visualize lace as something delicate and frilly, a concept that is, to me, in stark contrast with anything Corvette.

Then there's L.A.C.E., an acronym for Ladies for the Advancement of Corvette Enjoyment, a Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Corvette club for women only. When I first heard about L.A.C.E. I was, well, skeptical. If a bunch of guys got together and started up M.A.C.E. (Men for the...) or somesuch, they'd probably get sued for discrimination or, at minimum, be branded as male chauvinist pigs of the highest order. But when I actually thought about it, L.A.C.E. makes sense to me.

In my experience, car clubs and car activities are very male-oriented, with the wives/girlfriends/significant others accompanying the men. Some of the ladies are actively involved, but it's still more of a guys-and-their-families thing. So why not a Corvette club that's of, by, and for the ladies?

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The ladies of L.A.C.E. From left to right: Glenda Cranson, Toni McClung, Diana Johnson, Sundra Fulbright, Elsie Lytle, Sally Williams, Officer John Singer of the Claremore Police Department (he's just a friend), Julie Jones, Nancy Orr, Debby Thompson, Carol Harrison, and Donna Reese.

Why not, indeed. L.A.C.E. was started last year by a group of women who were already active members of the Tulsa Vette Set to, as member Cheryl Ashley wrote, "...enjoy social gatherings with our cars." Most of the L.A.C.E. ladies we heard from are parts of multi-Corvette households; several of them were the prime instigators of their families getting into the Corvette lifestyle, and a couple are the Corvette owners/drivers of their households.

In just a little more than a year, L.A.C.E. has grown to over 30 members. The only membership requirement, other than being female, is to own or have access to a Corvette. The club's primary objective is to let women of all ages know that anyone can own and drive a Corvette-and to "show off, just like the guys." The L.A.C.E. brigade holds monthly meetings, does group shopping trips, and caravans to out-of-the-way restaurants. They're currently planning to conduct a defensive driving school for the members.

Like nearly every other Corvette club that Team VETTE has heard from or come in contact with, L.A.C.E. raises funds for a charity. L.A.C.E. selected DVIS (Domestic Violence Intervention Services) as their beneficiary because the ladies believe strongly in the importance of giving back to their community and that among abused and misplaced women and children are among the neediest members of society.

L.A.C.E. has a slightly different perspective on the Corvette hobby compared to the "usual" Corvette club. Not better, not lesser, just different. Team VETTE is pleased to salute, in alphabetical order, this talented group of Corvette ladies.

Glenda Cranson '01 Coupe
Glenda retired in November 2000 after working for 35 years, 18 of them as a manager, for Southwestern Bell telephone. She's along-time Corvette fanatic having bought her first one, a '78 Silver Anniversary that she still owns, brand new in 1978. In 1985 she joined Tulsa Vette Set, but job demands limited her participation for many years. She and her second husband, Pee Wee, married in February 2000. The Millenium Yellow '01 coupe was his retirement gift to Glenda, and he's also helping her to restore her '78. They enjoying Corvetting together in show, parades, cross-country touring, and with Glenda's three grandchildren.

Carol Harrison '95 Coupe
Carol, the founder of L.A.C.E., is a hardcore Corvetter-she and Dave, her husband of 35 years, have owned at least 11 Corvettes, without counting her current ride, an Admiral Blue with gray interior coupe and Dave's six-speed Quicksilver '02 convertible. Both Carol and Dave have been, and still are, quite active with the Tulsa Vette Set (he's a past president and she is currently an elected member of the board of directors). In addition Carol owns and operates a 56-year-old business as an authorized distributor for a major driveshaft couplings manufacturer. That doesn't sound very "lady-like" but Carol says that she, "...went to work for a bunch of old men; they all died, I was left to carry on, and I did!" That was 1988. Carol and Dave have a son and a daughter plus their respective spouses. Carol mentioned her age (we're certainly not going to tell) then concluded by telling us she's, "...getting younger every year."

Diana l. Johnson '98 coupe
Diana is a relatively recent convert to Corvetting. This tax partner in a Tulsa-area CPA firm told us that, "Less than five years ago I thought that buying a Corvette was a waste of money...it just seemed silly to spend that kind of money on transportation." Her husband, Joe, thought different and convinced her that there's more to life than bottom line, and the result of that very sensible argument was a Torch Red C5. Diana's attitude towards Corvettes has changed a wee bit since then. "Nothing can compare with the feeling you get when you're behind the wheel of America's only true sports car...that's a feeling that you just can't put a price tag on." The Johnsons are now on their third Corvette, and Diana relates that she now wants a C5 convertible while Joe wants a Z06, and they're looking for a '63 split window for their 17-year-old son, A.J.

Sundra Fulbright '94 Convertible
Sundra, a surgical assistant, was the youngest of eight children and says she, "...was always getting leftovers or hand-me-downs." As a teenager she dated guys with Corvettes but never dreamed she'd have one of her own. When her husband, Bryon, suggested they buy a Corvette, she initially hesitated then, after they found this Arctic White convertible with an auxiliary hardtop and beige interior, she gave it a big thumbs-up. They joined the Tulsa Vette Set, a sound decision as Sundra told us, "We didn't know that we could have so much fun by joining a club." More recently, she joined L.A.C.E. "Bryon and I have such a wonderful time driving to different functions and meeting all the different people. We will always own a Corvette."

Julie Jones '00 Convertible
Julie is a registered nurse and a charter member of L.A.C.E., and lists her hobbies and interests as reading, playing golf and, "...any activities L.A.C.E. does." She says that the club gives her, "...quite a respite from the busy world in which we all live," as well as, "...time to spend with new and old friends, time to enjoy our great cars, and time to make a difference in the lives of others who are not as fortunate as we are. Our special project, DVIS, brings each of us a special blessing." Ms. Jones told us that she and her husband, Vernon, find that, "...a ride in a beautiful Corvette after a long day is a truly superb way to relax." Her final comment to Team VETTE was, "What a great life!"

Donna Reese '00 Convertible
Back when she was in high school, Donna's dream car was a '76 Stingray. Marriage, children, and a career as an accountant put that dream on the backburner. Then about six years ago Donna and her husband, Mike, decided it was time to make her Shark dream a reality. They found a nice, Corvette Orange '77 coupe for sale and snapped it up. However, Mike was so taken with the Shark that it became his, and Donna went Vette shopping, again. "I wanted a C4. It had to be a Polo Green convertible, tan interior, sports seats, and a six-speed." They found THE car in Nebraska. All was well until they drove a fellow Tulsa Vette Set-er's C5 and, "...the search began for a Bowling Green convertible, six-speed (of course) and all the extras." As is obvious by the picture, Donna has her C5 convertible and, as Donna says, "Dreams do come true."

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Sally Singer Williams '92 Convertible
Unlike most of the other ladies profiled here, Sally didn't grow up loving Corvettes. She grew up on a farm, and her idea of horsepower had four legs, a tail, and a mane. It was only after marrying Carl Williams, a dyed-in-the-wool Corvette fanatic, in 1999 that she became acquainted with, "...the joy of owning and driving a Corvette." One year later, they purchased their Bright Red '92 convertible from a friend. Sally and Carl co-manage a professional trade association, and the red ragtop is their way to, "...get away from work and enjoy life." She now loves driving the Vette and is imparting her passion to her five-year-old granddaughter, Courtney. This one-time horse enthusiast says, "I am now a dedicated Corvette lover."

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Debby Thompson '80 Coupe, '60 Roadster
"You are never too old to learn or to try something new," says Debby Thompson, who has bought two vintage Corvettes in the past few years. She had coveted Corvettes, "...since I was 16 years old, and I'm not going to tell you how many years ago that was." The '80 is Debby's driver while her '60 is currently being restored because, "...my husband had a fender bender in it one day." Debby says, "The 'C' in Corvette stands for: Cash, Credit Card, or Check." Debby started out cruising and going to car shows, but decided last year to try autocrossing. "What a rush! I'm still in training but hope to enter competition this summer or fall." Her fanaticism has spread through the family. Her husband is the mechanic, their eldest son does the paint and bodywork, and the younger son just bought a '79. "I can't imagine my life without a Corvette in the garage or driveway. I am totally in love with America's only true sports car."

Nancy Orr '89 Coupe
Until a few years ago, Nancy, a secretary in Tulsa, never really thought much about owning a Corvette, even though her sister, "...has always owned one." There were concerns like where to stow three car seats when the kids were young. When the kids got older, a Corvette, "...never seemed like the ideal car to get them to ball practice." That was then and now that Nancy and Rick's three kids are grown, a red Corvette, "...is the only car to own and to have a fun time in." Patience does have its virtues. By the way, Nancy is "Sunshine Girl" for L.A.C.E. and also serves as Social Chairperson for the Tulsa Vette Set.

Leanne Young '88 Convertible
The garage at the Young's home in suburban Sand Spring probably has the stalls marked "HERS" and "HIS." Leanne's ride is a Bright Red '88 convertible while Todd's toy is a '93 RPO Z25 40th Anniversary package that sees duties as a weekend plaything and autocrosser. In addition to caring for their two daughters, Leanne works at "Curves," a fitness center for women. One of the Young's two dogs, a black lab named Jo-Jo, is a therapy dog that Leanne takes for regular visits at local children's hospitals and senior citizen centers. As if that wasn't enough, Leanne is a charter member of L.A.C.E. and serves as the group's graphic designer. But mostly, "I enjoy driving my Vette with these fine ladies."

Elsie Joy Lytle '96 Grand Sport Coupe
Elsie and her husband, Bruce, are in business together as ocularists (makers of prosthetic eyes) and says that they both, "...enjoy seeing people eye our '96 Grand Sport." The GS was originally purchased by fellow Tulsa Vette Set-ers Don and Charlene Mayer. Elsie, who owned a pristine '78 Silver Anniversary model at the time, saw the striking Admiral Blue with white stripes coupe and fell madly in love. She made it clear that if the Mayers were ever to sell the Grand Sport, she wanted to be the first to know. She waited over five years for the momentous call, then immediately sold the '78. Was it worth it? Elsie say that she and Bruce, "...really enjoy our 'new' gorgeous and fast Corvette."

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