Mary Kaczor is not your average beauty you find on the edge of an F1 track. This blonde bombshell from Chicago is a former racing car driver and skiing champion. She has brains (she speaks fluent Spanish and Polish) and beauty (she's a former model), but for those many other beautiful blondes on the side of the race track, she now designs jewellery, using parts from the very cars that fly by them on the circuit. Kaczor was the only woman in her racing school class in 1993, and in her seven-year car racing career she competed in a smattering of European championships, including representing the US in the Formula Opel Nation's Cup. Kaczor was still an active race car driver when she felt inspired to make jewellery. Her first designs, she says "were the safety pin and bead bracelets I was making on planes, trains, tracks, with my free time as I was going from race to race/track to track. I made those as a hobby but they proved to be quite a success; they were in Henri Bendell's in New York and other high-end boutiques in Monaco, London and Paris.
"The racing drivers would buy these from me as gifts for their girlfriends or wives. Then they wondered why I didn't have any 'cool guy's' stuff, and that's when I came up with the car-part idea." Her fine arts degree came in handy, as did her MA in business. Her first designs from car parts were rubber O-rings for bracelets. She set up a partnership with the Renault Formula One team in 2004 to turn their used racing car parts into jewellery and now she's developing other collections with other teams and championships for a more global appeal.
Not only does she use discarded car parts, but also lower quality and offcut diamonds that might not be suitable for polishing. She uses them together for a more masculine look and feel of rough diamonds mixed with racing car parts. Each piece comes with a certificate of authenticity stating which race the part came from and which driver was in the cockpit when the part was being used. "A race car is made out of over 5,000 parts and what I do is creative recycling," she says.
There is a bit of creative recycling going on as far as the team is concerned, too: it uses its profits from sales of the jewellery that uses its parts and then uses those funds in research and development to make the car faster for the next season. Kaczor has also designed some special things for F1's commercial rights holder, Bernie Ecclestone. The crystal F1 hats that are his personal gift to his VIPs are designed by her. He also once paid £25, 000 for The Revolution - a piece in a charity auction in aid of Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital. It was a record amount paid for her jewellery. Other fans of her work include the television personality and model, Jodie Kidd, actors Keira Knightley and Russell Crow and rock star Ozzy Osborne. Ronnie Wood wore one of Kaczor's bracelets on the Rolling Stones tour last year. She's also designed pieces for five royal families, before ultimately being endorsed by the Crown Jeweller to Queen Elizabeth. Not only can she design special bespoke pieces from racing car parts but from any kind of car piece, whatever a customer's dream is. She's even thinking of branching out to use some of the bigger car parts in a more sculptural way in the future. Right now Kaczor is focusing on designing a collection for the Indianapolis 500, the major car race held at the end of May in this US city. She has also been asked to design a collection for the legendary car designer, Carroll Shelby.
There are also some special designs in the works at the moment, to be featured at the upcoming Abu Dhabi Formula One race, which she plans to attend in November. As with every grand prix, her routine is expected to begin with a star-studded reception with local and international celebrities and media the week before the race. If you'd like to see her designs beforehand, visit her web site at www.racerxdesigns.com firstname.lastname@example.org