ILLUSTRATION BY JOE CIARDIELLO FOR USN&WRHer ramrod-straight posture, the coiffed hair, even the eyes like chipped ice. They all have Cindy McCain fighting the image of a Stepford Wife. In Vogue this month, the millionaire wife of Sen. John McCain lets her hair down, literally, while reclining barefoot, in comfortable jeans, on a deck chair. Just another staged photo op? Not necessarily. Cindy can cut loose, say the folks at Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving in Phoenix. The 53-year-old mother of four has developed a taste for the track since 2004, the year she suffered a stroke.
"My son Jack is the one who really made me get up after the stroke and push myself again," she tells Whispers. Jack happens to be a racing fan. In defensive-driving courses at Bondurant, Cindy rammed the cars of mock bad guys and took out roadblocks. "She was steady as a rock," says Mike McGovern, the school's chief instructor. Cindy was a "gung-ho student"—the first to volunteer to try out the skid car, which trains drivers to recover from spin outs. With Jack, who's enrolled in the U.S. Naval Academy, she even jumped in a Pontiac GTO at Bondurant to learn the swerving style of street racing called drifting.
"I learned that I could push my limits and exceed my goals," she says. "After the campaign, hopefully, we will be able to go out again."