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January 28, 2015

Faces of Fauquier: Lady earned drag racing fame

Photo/Cassandra Brown
Alison Lee never expected recognition for volunteering in the auxiliary thrift shop.
I don’t remember how I started volunteering. I just walked in one day and got started, and someone handed me a price labeler. You just do it when you have time. It’s nice to give back to the community and you get in a groove. It filled a ‘ditch’ after I stopped riding. People would come up and see me and socialize and leave notes for specific clothes they were looking for.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
The Fauquier Hospital Auxiliary recently honored the vivacious county native for her record of volunteerism.

Alison Lee for more than 30 years worked at the Fauquier Hospital Auxiliary Thrift Shop on Warrenton’s Main Street. The shop closed last year.

The auxiliary in December recognized Mrs. Lee as its “Top of the Tree” honoree in the “Lights for Life” tradition. Supporters make Lights for Life gifts to the auxiliary to fund hospital needs and to honor members of the community, past and present.

Mrs. Lee called the award “humbling . . . an honor for sure. You feel that the time you spent volunteering somewhere you love doesn’t need recognition.”

Community members nominate “Top of the Tree” candidates. A committee in her organization selects the annual honoree for his or her philanthropic work and support of the hospital, auxiliary President Diane von Goellner-Suppa.

Local people might know Mrs. Lee for her involvement with drag racing, equestrian events and/or tennis.

“I’ve lived a full life,” she said.

She and husband James are in the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame. From 1969 to 1970, they set the National Hot Rod Association elapsed time records three times in the “Top Fuel” category for the fastest dragsters. She had the knack for taking down and rebuilding engines.

A Fauquier native who has witnessed lots of change, Mrs. Lee remains optimistic.

“Being an ‘old-timer,’ we still think the county is great. There is still enough room for diversity,” she said.

• Age
74

• Home
The Plains, near Morningside Farm. I was born and raised off Route 211 on Pickett Mountain Farm.

• Work

Volunteer at the Fauquier Hospital Auxiliary Thrift Shop from the 1980s until it closed in June 2014. I volunteered at least two hours, five days a week. I priced men’s and boy’s clothing.

• Why did you do the job?
I don’t remember how I started volunteering. I just walked in one day and got started, and someone handed me a price labeler. You just do it when you have time. It’s nice to give back to the community and you get in a groove. It filled a ‘ditch’ after I stopped riding. People would come up and see me and socialize and leave notes for specific clothes they were looking for.

In the early 1990s, I did catering with Claire from Claire’s at the Depot.

• Family
Husband of 55 years, James; son, James Lee III; daughter, Diane Hilton and husband Bobby, and grandson, Tyler. He’s getting into drag racing now; he’s our third generation racer.

• Education
Attended Calvert School, before it became Highland School, through eighth grade and graduated from Hannah More Academy, a boarding school in Maryland.

• Civic involvement
I’m a board member of the Warrenton Horse Show. I help run the luncheon/hospitality tent at the show.

Former volunteer with the Old Dominion Endurance Ride, former member of the Warrenton Garden Club, member of the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame (1995 induction with her husband), and coordinator for United States Tennis Association League adult teams in Virginia in 1998.

• How long have you lived in Fauquier?
All my life, 74 years.

• Why do you live here?
Because of my husband’s farm. It’s been in the family for 100 years. We have a family cemetery there.

• How do you describe this county?
Being an “old-timer,” we still think the county is great. There is still enough room for diversity.

• What would you change about Fauquier?
No, I don’t think so. It’s all great. I’m glad we have a Boys & Girls Club that came about. We needed it. Like any “old-timer,” I wish it would stay the same, but that’s not going to happen.

• What do you do for fun?
I go to drag race reunions and do meet-and-greets in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and in New Hampshire. I got interested in drag racing when I married my husband. He was really into it. We started at Sumerduck, and then Manassas was too small. From 1967 to 1979, my husband and I were in the top 10 in the country in drag racing points. We raced in Petersburg, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Florida, all over the country. We raced for 20 years (1962 to 1982).

Up until 10 years ago, I was riding and showing horses. I played tennis until 2005.

• What’s your favorite place in Fauquier?
The stretch of Springs Road and Lee’s Ridge Road. The view is so pretty looking out into the valley.

• What will Fauquier be like in 10 years?
Just a little bit more populated probably . . . in Marshall and the new shopping center in Bealeton. We are going to see the growth, just coming slowly.

• Favorite TV show?
“Antiques Roadshow” on PBS

• Favorite movie?
I haven’t been to the movies in ages, but I wanted to go see “Unbroken.” I haven’t seen it yet.

• Favorite vacation spot?
Bethany Beach, Delaware.

• Favorite food?
Salmon. I like a good steak.

• What is the best advice you have ever received? From whom?
If at first you don’t succeed try, try, again. My aunt from Long Island would always tell me that. It is embedded in my brain . . . . I haven’t lost that phrase.
I enjoy what I do. Do what gives you good health. Space out a project. You’ll get it done. Don’t try to do it all at once.

• Who’s your hero and why?
I can’t just pick one. In tennis, Chris Evert from the ’60s. In the local horse world, Betty Oare (of Warrenton). She rode hunters and I rode jumpers. I admire all she’s done, and she is very successful. In drag racing, Don Garlits. He was the king back then. He has a museum in Florida and one of our cars is going into it. All of these people inspire me to be better.

• What would you do if you won $1 million in the lottery?
Give a lot of it to my friends, but my children would be knocking on the door, too. I would be a secret philanthropist and enjoy it very much.

>> Suggest a “Faces of Fauquier” profile subject

Do you know someone who lives in Fauquier County you would like to see in Faces of Fauquier? E-mail Cassandra Brown at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or Editor Lou Emerson at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Previous Faces of Fauquier:

• Highland School veteran staff member Lise Hicklin always wanted to teach.


• As 9-1-1 dispatcher, Kateland Rich works to maintain calm during crisis.

• Chaplain Liz Danielsen finds a giving community.


• 9-1-1 response in Rodney Woodward’s bloodline.

• Fast talk a tool of the trade for auctioneer Kathy Shumate.

• Sam Poles takes care of varmits.

• Diane King mentors student performers at Fresta Valley Christian School.


• Lewis F. Lee Jr. followed his father into taxidermy business.

• Edward Payne returns to Orlean and to photography with passion.

• Janet Metzger’s Old Town Warrenton shop a hub of creativity.

• Pablo Teodoro bakes to build community.

• Community trails have become passion for retired VDOT engineer Bob Moore.


• Teresa Reynolds makes transition from butcher to museum director.

• After working in New York and Italy, Christine Fox moved home to open fashion boutique 25 years ago.

• Steve Lewis develops hunting reality show on Dish Network.

• Julia Trumbo grew up in the family grocery business.

• Tax preparer Renée Turner enjoys owning a business in Old Town Warrenton.

• ICU staff Carol Jones values patients’ trust.


• Wilson Sanabria grew up working in his family’s Warrenton restaurant and learning to box.

• One-man band Peter Fakoury quit 9-to-5 to learn from children.

• Liberty graduate Brittany Aubrey works in the smile business.

• Walmart cashier Lulu Baer loves to play violin and several community roles.

• In Sandra Alm, SPCA dogs have a loyal companion.

• St. James’ Episcopal new Rector Ben Maas appreciates community’s embrace

• Bicycles dominate work and play for Brian Larson.

• Teaching music therapy combines Abigail Newman’s passions.

• Brenda Rich leads volunteers who organize and run the Fauquier County Fair.

• 1st Sgt. Greg Harris stresses empathy in his job as a supervisor at the county detention center.


• Chuck Tippett challenges the “rich guy” stereotype about pilots.


• County government employee Surja Tamang previously worked as a Mt. Everest sherpa.

• Woody Isaac found his calling as a chef at age 16.

• Horses take Tommy Lee Jones all over the county.


• Retired nurse Angela Neal continues to volunteer in hospital ER.

• Gilmer Lee really knows high school sports in Fauquier.

• Stage remains central to Tim Bambara’s life journey.

• Bus driver Melissa Strain’s weekend job all about “fun.”


• Bartender Taylor Edgar has a pretty good standup routine.

• A nomad childhood led Paul Schmeling to start a moving company.


• Adam Lynch’s family owns café with local food focus and a special name.

• Patricia McMahon Rice turns passion for art into her livelihood.

• Cindy D’Ambro works as “director of first impressions” at LFCC.

• Ginger Hilleary leads local literacy organization.

• Farmers with groundhog problems call Rod Kirkpatrick.


• Horses “retire” to work with Jeanne Blackwell.

• Remington cattle farmer Doug Linton loves his home and work.

• Sports central to Robert Glascock’s life’s work.

• For Richard Mast, company ownership started with his summer work as a teenager.

• Bernice Simpson knows northern Fauquier back roads and the people who live along them.

• Eddie Payne has logged 38 years as a volunteer firefighter in Marshall.


• Stephanie Layton turns her lifelong passion for dance into her livelihood.


• Shawn LaRue matches children and adoptive families.


• Biker and psychology major Clif Stroud makes music in a big way.

• Becky Crouch greets lots of visitors.

• She helped blaze trail to equality for black teachers.


• Family and food come first for Marshall pizzeria employee.

• Rural “closeness” of Fauquier appeals to Kansas native

• A “spoke” in the wheel of preservation.

• His job dovetails with passion for hunting

• Veteran educator sees the potential in every child.

• His passions: Fixing cars and helping people


• Habitat ReStore volunteer appreciates Fauquier’s diversity.


• Dad’s example led to new career at Fauquier Hospital.

• He lives and works in a beautiful place.

• The Goldvein firehouse ranks as his favorite place.


• Pretty things everywhere she looks.

• Through scouting, he encourages girls to explore.

• One day, he might run the company.


• FISH volunteer likes to help others.

• She sees the community’s generosity.

• Cop patrols while most people sleep.


• Pastor a constant in Calverton.


• She keeps the courthouse spotless.


• He loves working working outdoors at the park.


• She sees “everyone” at Carousel

• Library assistant works in a “fun place"

• Hat lady sets up shop in Old Town Warrenton



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