Heels & Wheels At Marconi
Women At The Wheel At The Marconi Automotive Museum
It was a sunny, autumn day at the Marconi Automotive Museum on October 16, 2021 when over 150 people attended the inaugural women-directed cars and coffee aptly named "Heels & Wheels".
By Ami Pascual Spear
Mon, Nov 1, 2021 12:15 PM PST
Monique Marconi, CEO of the 25-year old Marconi Museum, described October as the perfect month to host Heels and Wheels because it elevates and coalesces women in the car community during Breast Cancer Awareness month. October also represents the Fall season when nature makes way for new growth and beginnings - when many entities transform into better versions of their original state. Not too different from 84% of women today who not only survived non-metastatic and invasive breast cancer by more than 10 years but transformed into mightier versions of their early selves.
Emblematic of growth and new beginnings are the 75 vehicles featured at Heels and Wheels. Owned, operated, reconstructed, redesigned, and reimagined by women, each vehicle was a transcended version of its original state - from a 2012 LP560-4 Lamborghini Gallardo Bianco Rosso, to a 2006 Chrysler 300C, to a 1969 K-5 Chevy Blazer.
A 2018 Mustang GT premium in royal crimson was also displayed, one of less than 4,600 crimson red models produced by Ford Motors and reimagined by Sandra Mora, its owner, to closely match the deep red color in Wonder Woman’s armor during her battle with Ares.
For Wonder Woman to have defeated Ares in her crimson armor is symbolic of a trend reversal in a historically patriarchal car culture wherein media and advertising companies promote the commodification of women.
According to writer Emily Fritz in "The Harm of Gender Roles in Car Culture: An Argument for Getting Girls Involved", women are simultaneously expected to be sexual around cars while also harassed and insulted for doing so. She describes an odd phenomenon on Instagram where female car models posing in front of or besides vehicles, are verbally abused for blocking the view of a car or for being unnecessary complements to the vehicles pictured.
The commodification of cars and women in popular culture ends when we choose to elevate our skills sets, independence, and creativity.
Monique Marconi did exactly this on Saturday by choosing to spotlight 75 cars and trucks in all stages of transformation. She guaranteed that women, who represent more than 50% of license-carrying drivers on the road, were seen as drivers, mechanics, designers, investors, inventors, healers, and agents of change.
Dr. Thuy-Tien Ho, pictured below in her Lamborghini Gallardo Bianco, is an accomplished race car driver and graduate of the AMG Driving Academy Skip Barber performance racing classes. A prosthodontist who operated two dental practices in Virginia before retiring five years ago, she is an inventor of a dental impression tray patented in 2010. She continues to build, design and race cars while supporting nonprofit organizations such as the Marconi Childrens Foundation.
Nancy Kelly, pictured below next to her 2006 Chrysler 300c, described her excitement at purchasing her very first car in factory butane blue with mopar blue accents which she added along the way. She also noted that her vehicle is lowered on BC coil overs, one of the best coils on the market and that it sits on OEM wheels from a Dodge SRT Daytona.
Ruth Rocha and her young daughter’s love and soaring spirit are captured below in front of their 1969 Chevy Blazer. As a new member of the K5 Nation Truck Club, she described the passion and resource sharing between and among her fellow K5 Club members - men and women from all walks of life.
The camaraderie Ruth described was identical to the camaraderie I witnessed between Sandra, Tammy, Diana, and Cindy - all of whom belonged to the Orange County Mustang Club. Each presented her automobile, starting with Diana’s 2014 white with black stripes Mustang which she purchased from Carmax in Hawaii, to Cindy’s 1966 poppy red convertible which she acquired on what she described as the second happiest day of her life.
Tammy, who purchased her red Mustang in June 2021, stood out in her bright pink, fluffy non-heeled shoes. She recounted two miracles: surviving a horrifying accident after being hit by a drunk driver and hospitalized for months, followed by healing from breast cancer chemotherapy and radiation. A bus driver by day and mother of a 39, 38, and (2) 35-year old twins, her new Mustang was a gift to her new self.
Adding to the many women I grew to admire throughout the morning was the duo team of Linh and Trisha, operators of Nudae Coffee, a woman-owned and operated business. Their artistically curated, freshly ground, and aromatic coffee and espresso paired with donuts powered Heels & Wheels attendees throughout the day. Astoundingly adept at remembering each order while brewing cup after cup of perfect coffee and maintaining eye contact and excellent customer service, I couldn’t help but wonder if they, too, transformed from original versions of themselves.
Two writers, Maria Popova and Joan Didion, perfectly encapsulate what women - especially those who have triumphed over breast cancer diagnoses, Covid-19, car accidents, domestic violence, and other setbacks - are capable of becoming:
As we evolve - as we add experiences, impressions, memories, deepening knowledge and self-knowledge to the combinatorial pool from which all creative work springs - what we make evolves accordingly; it must, if we are living widely and wisely enough. Joan Didion may be right that "we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not" but we are also well advised to welcome with a largehearted embrace the blooming possibilities within us - the people we are in the ongoing course of becoming, the people we will have been when our atoms give way to our afterglow.
Like all the vehicles exhibited at the Marconi Museum on one of the most beautiful autumn days of the year, may we keep growing and giving way to our afterglow like Wonder Woman did after her defeat of Ares.