Upload new images. The image library for this site will open in a new window.
Upload new documents. The document library for this site will open in a new window.
Show web part zones on the page. Web parts can be added to display dynamic content such as calendars or photo galleries.
Choose between different arrangements of page sections. Page layouts can be changed even after content has been added.
Move this whole section down, swapping places with the section below it.
Check for and fix problems in the body text. Text pasted in from other sources may contain malformed HTML which the code cleaner will remove.
Accordion feature turned off, click to turn on.
Accordion featurd turned on, click to turn off.
Change the way the image is cropped for this page layout.
Cycle through size options for this image or video.
Align the media panel to the right/left in this section.
Open the image pane in this body section. Click in the image pane to select an image from the image library.
Open the video pane in this body section. Click in the video pane to embed a video. Click ? for step-by-step instructions.
Remove the image from the media panel. This does not delete the image from the library.
Remove the video from the media panel.
Ingrid Steffensen and UD President Patrick Harker at the Center for the Arts on campus, where she delivered a talk inside and parked her Lotus Elise outside.
Ingrid Steffensens bright yellow Lotus
Elise is a little fancier and a lot faster than the Volkswagen Beetle
she drove when she first got behind the wheel of a car as a 16-year-old,
but both cars are an integral part of Steffensens auto biography.
With the Lotus parked on the bricks outside the Roselle Center for
the Arts, Steffensen chronicled her journey from college professor to
speed freak as part of the Presidents Leadership Series at the University of Delaware.
After earning a Ph.D. in art history at UD in 1994, Steffensen went on to teach at Princeton, Rutgers and Bryn Mawr.
But, as UD President Patrick Harker said in introducing her,
Something interesting happened to this highly trained academic, beloved
by her students. She traded in the academy for the race track.
Harker called Steffensens 2012 book, Fast Girl: Dont Brake Until You See the Face of God and Other Good Advice from the Racetrack,
a story of reinvention and liberation that contains some of the best
advice youre ever going to get from a high-performance race car
Steffensen shared some of that story in her lecture, This Is Your
Brain at 135 Miles per Hour: Lessons in Learning from the Racetrack,
which was followed by a question and answer session moderated by Nancy
Karibjanian, adjunct professor of communication and member of Delaware First Medias board of directors.
Referring to the automobile as one of the most powerful
transformative factors of the past century, Steffensen said, Were
emotional about our cars our grandmothers car, the car we learned to
drive in, the one we went to the prom in, the one we brought the baby
home from the hospital in. The succession of cars in our lives is as
unique as a fingerprint.
Steffensens life was organized around teaching and her family until
the day her husband talked her into joining him at Watkins Glen
racetrack in 2008.
Before that, the biggest excitement in my life was doing The New York Times crossword and trying out the latest sushi restaurant, she said. I was terrified.
Although she breathed a huge sigh of relief when her first try at
navigating the frighteningly twisty course was over, she found herself
reliving the movie of her Mini Cooper going around the track.
I cant express how it feels to your body, she said. I felt like I
was going to go right off the edge, and I thought, Im going to die.
But on the drive from New York back to her home in New Jersey, she
knew she wanted to do it again. She wanted to learn about this whole new
world that was defined by racing lines, slip angles, hitting the
apex, and throttle steering.
So, what was it that pulled this respected art historian away from the classroom and onto the racetrack?
I realized that I had reached the point in my life where I was very
competent at what I did, she said. By mid-life, youve crystallized
what you know and what you do, so it was an absolute revelation to me to
come to a place where I was learning and engaging my brain in a whole
Steffensen soon learned that being a novice in your mid-40s is
humbling. I saw myself as a good driver, and then I came to the race
track and realized, I dont know a damn thing about this.
After awhile, though, she became skilled enough to become an instructor, and thats when the real revelation hit her.
She was teaching a man in his 50s a tricky technique called tail braking.
When he finally got it, he was like a kid on Christmas morning,
Steffensen said. He was so excited I could practically see the sparks
coming out of his helmet. He was high on his own brain. Dopamine is
really good stuff.
That was when I saw that this could happen to us at any time in our
lives, she added. Learning a new skill invigorates your life.
During the Q&A after the talk, Steffensen said that the whole
process of learning to drive a race car and teaching others to do it has
made her more courageous and more likely to try other new things from
eating snails to skiing.
Steffensen hopes that shes setting a good example for her
15-year-old daughter in terms of pushing her boundaries, but when it
comes to teaching the teenager how to drive, thats another story.
Were going to leave that to a professional, she said.
Move this whole section up, swapping places with the section above it.
The April 9 Presidents Leadership Series lecture featuring Ingrid Steffensen is presented here in its entirety.
Race car connection
In addition to writing numerous articles and books on 19th and 20th
century art and architecture, Steffensen has also written for a broader
audience, including an article about UDs GoBabyGo program that appeared in The New York Times Automobiles section on Sept. 6, 2013.
Its not surprising that Steffensen was drawn to the story of how
Cole Galloway, associate professor of physical therapy, is giving
mobility when legs cant by custom modifying battery-powered cars for
young children who are unable to walk so that they can explore their
environment with their peers.
Any car enthusiast can relate to the great joys and limitless possibilities of the open road, she wrote.
And she seems to be in full agreement with Galloway that the drive
for exploration through movement and mobility is a deep part of being
About the Presidents Leadership Series
The Presidents Leadership Series brings prominent innovators and
leaders in business, technology, athletics, the arts, and the humanities
to campus to share their knowledge and life experience with the UD
About Ingrid Steffensen
Ingrid Steffensen holds a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Virginia, a masters degree from Yale University, and a doctorate in art history from the University of Delaware.
Her work has been published in The New York Times, The Wine Enthusiast, New Jersey Monthly, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.
She is currently working on a new book, Life at Ankle Level, told from the viewpoint of her small dog.
Learn more about Steffensen at her website.