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Sue Mead Off Road Motorsports Hall of Fame>

Sue Mead works as a photojournalist and features writer for more than two dozen publications. She has written for Parade, Popular Science, Open Road, the Road & Track Buyers Guide, Men’s Journal, Popular Mechanics and Diversion and she has worked as an auto editor for CNN/fn. Sue has co-driven in two of the world’s toughest off-road races, the Baja 1000 and the Paris-Dakar Raid. She attended four Camel Trophy adventures for Land Rover North America and has participated in several long-distance adventure drives. She recently completed her first book, “Monster Trucks and Tractors” published by Chelsea House. Sue lives in New England.

As a woman what features are your favorites in a car?
My top features in cars are safety, utility, good ingress and egress, a great engine sound, all-wheel drive traction, 4WD technologies, and either appealing or funky looks. I also love two-stage unlocking-a very appealing feature for most women. I haven’t found a man yet who has raved about it; some hardly notice it!

Why does the auto industry seem like a difficult environment for females?
I love the auto industry and have found it very welcoming and inviting to me, as a woman! ( I do know that most or all women I know complain–even today–with attitudes at dealers.) I began in 1988 at Four Wheeler magazine on the first team of test drivers that included women and haven’t stopped since. Men have been a huge support to me, especially male automotive journalists. It’s taken a while for some reps of automakers to get smart about women and their role in the industry, although some brands are great and always have been.

Why did you want to work in the auto industry?
I didn’t come to it as a direct choice. i wanted to see the world and have some adventures through my work. I assumed I’d have to be a travel journalist. i was blessed to find automotive journalism and started in the 4WD/off-road side of it, which is filled with adventure. I’ve also had many great adventures in every day vehicles, as well.

First automotive job?
I started automotive work as a freelance test driver for Four Wheeler, in 1988.

Proudest professional achievement?
Winning my Class in the 2011 Dakar Rally and being inducted to the Off Road Motorsports Hall of Fame, as a Pioneer in Journalism.

Current challenge at work?
My biggest challenge is fitting all the work and travel in now, after a slow-down for a couple years. Now, I am so busy I have three people helping me with research.

Dream job?
This one! But, to be teleported to job sites. I am currently in the Outback of Australia and it took me nearly two days to get here. I’m having a grand time on the Australasian Safari Rally, but dread the travel time home and all the travel time I have to put in over the next three months. It’s not only the travel, but the delays, cancellations and downgrading of the airline travel system.

What you do to relax?
Meet my deadlines, be with family, go to sleep in my own bed and play with Alex, who is 8 and is the only one in my family with the “car gene”.

Who have you mentored who did someone mentor you in this industry to help you get started?
I was helped into the automotive business by Peter Mac Gillivray, who is now the VP of Communications at SEMA. I had helped Peter get into the news business many years ago. Others who have mentored me have been John Stewart, Bill Baker, Stuart Bourdon, Rick Pewe, Tom Collins, Mark Smith, Rod Hall, and Darren Skilton. There are many others! I have mentored Meghan Searles, Ted Grozier, Bob George and others.