Drag Illustrated Issue 168, May 2021 - Page 26

Dirt

TRIBUTE

Cynthia Phillips

SEGA ’ s First Lady 1967 – 2021
By Kelly Wade

The Southeast Gassers Association ( SEGA ) is a tightknit community , and in any community , leaders naturally emerge . Cynthia Phillips was a kind , compassionate leader who was loved by all and wore her crown humbly for many years . On April 19 , 2021 , her faithful supporters and friends within SEGA said an unwilling goodbye to their First Lady as she lost a tough battle with cancer .

Phillips was just 17 years old when she entered the world of racing , and she first took an interest
and then an active role as a crew member and back-up girl for diverse drag racer Quain Stott . Their partnership extended well beyond the dragstrip , but she and Stott – her companion for nearly four decades – were fixtures in racing .
When IHRA ’ s 2006 Pro Mod champion Stott started the Southeast Gassers Association in 2012 , Phillips was by his side . The two worked together to grow SEGA , a sanctioning body devoted to period-correct racing with manually shifted cars built no later than 1967 . The league promises and delivers on a truly spectacular show that takes fans right back in time to the days of wheels-up launches , gear-bangin ’ 4-speeds , and racer pits that rival the baddest car shows in the land , and it was always important to Phillips .
Stott said on April 9 , 2021 , when he announced that the woman he called his “ Princess ” was nearing the end of her battle with cancer , “ She has worked and sacrificed as much or more than I
have over the last 10 years trying to make the Southeast Gassers Association work …. Many of you call her the First Lady of SEGA , and it ’ s 100 % true . Without her sacrifice , I could have never made it work .”
Phillips ’ astute attention to detail aided in growing SEGA , and it also complemented her ability to make valuable contributions to Stott ’ s racing , either working on his race cars or reading a racetrack better than most anyone else .
In 2017 , Phillips expressed an interest in driving a gasser of her own , and a new page in her own racing history was written . She was hands-on for the build of her first race car , from the bodywork to the engine . Phillips ’ most recent gasser was the “ Flower Power ” ‘ 56 Chevrolet C / Gasser , and she made quite a name for herself as a respected and capable driver . When she stepped out of the seat last year , Phillips handed over the reins to her niece , Alexis Phillips .
Just 10 days after her passing , Stott donned Phillips ’ helmet and racing jacket and took her sweet Shoebox Chevy down Shadyside Dragway in her honor . After the emotional pass , Stott handed the racing gear to Alexis , who is slated to finish the 2021 SEGA season in the Flower Power gasser .
Thoughtful to the end , Phillips was known for putting others first . Before her death at the too-young age of just 53 , she requested a private funeral to spare friends from across the country feeling obligated to drive many miles to attend . Stott had her small yet heartfelt backyard service recorded to video and posted on social media so that everyone was included , whether they were near or far , and the touching tribute received several thousand views almost immediately upon being shared . The comments of her supporters make it clear that Phillips ’ kindness , wit , and strength will live on in the hearts of all who knew her . DI
PHOTOGRAPHS BY IAN TOCHER
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