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By Susan Wade

The late Dick Moroso embraced that girl-power proverb: "If you want to get something done, ask a busy woman to do it."

He had plenty of work to keep a young entrepreneur named Laura occupied when he asked her in 1987 to move from Atlanta to Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and oversee his 200-acre racing facility. It included an NHRA-sanctioned quarter-mile drag strip and a 2.25-mile, 10-turn road course.

When Moroso Motorsports Park unveils its $7 million oval track this fall or early next year, Executive Director Laura South will deserve much of the credit. The 4/10-mile asphalt track for late-model stock cars is expected to generate $13.6 million more in revenue for southeast Florida. That's in addition to the estimated $24 million the operation already contributes to local coffers.

South and her female-dominated staff -- the only office crew of its kind at a major motorsports facility in this country -- have proven that behind every talented woman is a roomful of them.

(Left to right) Joanna Keough, Laura South, Julie Korkowski, Amber Starnes (center), Angela Wall, Sue Moroso Strecker, and Valerie LaBlanc

"Dick Moroso hired women because he knew they tried harder and paid more attention to detail. He respected their work ethic," South said. "Women are more likely to take notes, keep records and follow up."

After Moroso died of brain cancer in 1998, his daughter, Susan Moroso Strecker, cemented the track office's female influence. She joined the operation as President, abandoning her family-therapy practice in Connecticut.

The Connecticut Yankee in Queen Laura's court has caused no power struggles. "I automatically felt comfortable," Strecker said. "I've always been active in a man's world. I grew up with brothers, and my dad had been active in Winston Cup racing and the Busch series. I'd been to a million races, but it was never anything I considered I'd be doing for a living," she said.

Strecker was transplanted into a world far different from her comfortable equestrian coterie or her professional comfort-zone of counseling. Even her exposure to male enterprise didn't prepare her for life at the race track. She at once would be supervising and receiving support from women. However, she said, the transition was smooth and natural.

"Women share a closeness that's unique," Strecker said, adding, "It irks me to call them employees. They're good friends of mine."

Friends they are, but the Moroso Motorsports Park office is no daily Kaffeeklatsch. "We're busy year-round. We're probably one of the busiest tracks in the nation," South said, alluding to the more than 500 events the track hosts each year. "We put out more press releases than the mayor's office."

"A lot of it IS fun," she said. "It's more like a sisterhood. Everybody gets along really well. We talk about sickness, divorce, kids. We know when to leave someone alone or when we need to put an arm around each other. We give each other birthday cakes. It's an intimate atmosphere. We all pull together as we support the team. We found a bunch of smart women who melded together."


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