Elfrieda Mais, ne Hellman, was born in Indianapolis, Indiana and made her home in Dodge City, Kansas for a time during World War I. She started working as an airplane stunt woman and wing walker in 1910 but switched to driving racing cars in 1912 as she felt too many women were getting involved in flying and it didn't look so dangerous any more.
Racing sanctioning bodies of her time did not allow women to compete against the men. But she managed to obtain a license from the IMCA (International Motor Contest Association) to race.
Her races, however, were not competitive, as she wsa only alowed to drive in exhibitions and speed trials against the clock.
She plied those skills at an IMCA race at West Side Speedway in Wichita, Kansas on July 4, 1916 where she set an unofficial two-lap track record of 1 minute, 24 seconds on the half-mile racetrack.
Elfrieda drove a car built especially for her at a cost of $10,000
She made a two-lap run in 1 minute, 11.6 seconds on the half-mile Kansas State Fairgrounds racetrack on July 5, 1920. She also ran on the one-mile racetrack at Salina, Kansas on Labor Day of 1921. She returned to Wichita on August 7, 1932 where she again ran speed trials during breaks between the auto races at the Bo Stearns track north of town.
In 1911, Elfrieda married John A. “Johnny” Mais who drove racing cars and competed in the 1915 Indianapolis “500”. Elfrieda was later married Ray Laplante but continued to appear at racetracks and in stunt shows as “Miss Elfrieda Mais”.
Elfrieda Mais was fatally injured on September 27, 1934 when the car she was driving ran into a road grader and overturned down an embankment after she had crashed through a blazing board wall during a stunt-driving exhibition at the Alabama State Fair in Birmingham.