Lynne Kush's Modeling History
From CHIN To Miss Indy To NASCAR Wife
Lynne Kush shines bright in her native Canada. Photo: Simon Leung.
Editor's Note: Lynne is the wife of NASCAR driver A.J. Allmendinger. Before that, she became a model after entering a few contests in her native Toronto, and eventually won Miss Molson Indy which covered all of Canada. She shares the modeling part of her life with PubClub.com.
Many girls have asked me this question; How did I get myself into modeling, and become successful at it?
For me, it's a process that is hard to describe. First and foremost, my true occupation is not as a model...so what makes me the expert anyway?! But for whatever reason, people think I have some knowledge to share.So here goes what I know.
Lynne doesn't need to be in a bikini to look great. Photo: Simon Leung.
Lynne adapted quickly to the model's life in a bikini. Photo: Simon Leung.
As Miss Molson Indy she's in the starter's stand at the Vancouver Indy.
I started in modeling when I did my first photo shoot for the Toronto Sun in 1997 (I was 19 years old at the time). I was the Sunshine Girl the day that Princess Diana died....and surprisingly many people still have this newspaper in Toronto! I did the shoot because a TO Sun photographer happened to frequent the restaurant where I had worked for several years. I had no idea who he was...but I always took good care of him and one day he just asked me if I'd ever be a Sunshine Girl.
So I had had my share of fun, was satisfied with this one appearance in the newspaper, and life went on. A few years later, I finally started scoping out the newspapers to see how I could enter the Miss CHIN pageant, which was a big Toronto contest. I was now 22 years old and my thoughts were, "It's now or never!"
"When they announced that the winner was 'Contestant #7' I honestly looked up and down the line of girls to see who she was...until someone pushed me out of line to go up and get crowned 'Miss CHIN 2000.' " Let's be honest...modeling has certain windows of time when you can be most successful, and I was getting older.
So I went to the CHIN radio/TV station for the preliminary auditions....and I almost left without ever going through with it. I saw amazing-looking girls everywhere!!! And all of them had something to say about their latest success: "I was in this calendar....I was in this magazine..blah blah blah!" I thought I was definitely out of my league and I should leave before anyone ever noticed me!
I had never worn a bikini at the beach and here I am on stage at pageants.
On stage again for another contest in Canada.
(Photos: Ryan Visima)
I had never even worn a bikini to the beach for god sakes, never mind on a stage for everyone to see! I was a baton twirler/gymnast...not a bikini model. However, I went through with the audition and got into the finals. I was the quietest contestant out of 30 girls. I sat in my own little area, and just listened to all the other girls.
We had an interview portion to the contest which was 50% of our mark, and I knew I had done that well. I was just honest. They asked me questions about being Ukrainian, who my role model was, basic stuff and I was just myself.
I had a blast on stage for our choreographed portion of the contest and even the bikini stuff, too! When they announced that the winner was "Contestant #7" I honestly looked up and down the line of girls to see who she was...until someone pushed me out of line to go up and get crowned "Miss CHIN 2000." I made the front page of the newspaper the next day!
Being Miss CHIN was the initial "catapult" in my modeling success. CHIN quickly learned I was a very good public speaker and soon I had many TV and radio interviews coming my way. I worked very well with them all year long and I am still very good friends with the Lombardi family and was loved by their famed contest organizer Ron Sears who died just a few years ago.
Lynne got to travel Down Under to a race iin Surfer's Paradise, Australia.
Photo: Dan Boyd, LAT
Again, I thought this was the end of the line for my modeling, that it was fun while it lasted. I was now in my last year of University, and had plans of going on to become a Chiropractor...gosh you can't be both a chiropractor and a model right?? I did enter a few other contests along the way...but with no real success. I learned that when I'm only seen and not heard, I'm not as strong as a contestant. I went into Miss Swimsuit Canada, Miss Speedorama and other local Toronto contests but I figured my streak was over!
I had been put into the Toronto SUN Calendar contest for a few years, with no luck of actually getting into the calendar. "You have to know when to hold them, and know when to fold them!" So I did, and pretty much disappeared from the modeling scene.
When I was in my 2nd year of Chiropractic, I was bored out of my mind with my personal life. It was all about school, which was to be expected because we were just being killed with the amount of work to be done. But I knew I was missing something from my life. Then I heard about a new contest coming to Toronto, being held by an organizer that was actually from Australia.
A local promoter told me about it, and he invited me to the tryout. It was for the Miss Molson Indy Toronto contest, which was a "sports model search." It was the fact that it was a sports model contest that I even considered it. I had been a baton twirler/gymnast for more than 20 years...maybe it was about time that baton worked for me! I met the organizer and a few days later got the call to tell me I had been selected for the finals in the Miss Molson Indy Toronto contest.
On stage with the other girls – I was the last one chosen by the organizer.
I was really excited and now had to prepare two routines which were a swimwear routine and a sports routine. We were told we were all staying at a hotel for 4 days during the Toronto Indy race in order to rehearse 24/7. We sure did! It was boot camp for models while on a race track...and living with a bunch of other models was "enlightening," to say the least! I could never stand the girls who were the prima donnas types that walked into the contest thinking it was theirs for the taking. But the good news is that there are always more friendly girls than the less friendly ones! Once again, no one saw me coming... I was the quiet one.
But everyone did get nervous when they saw my sports routine. I did very well in my interview as well, and I was named the first Miss Molson Indy Toronto 2003. I quickly found myself on a plane to Vancouver because I had just qualified myself for the Miss Molson Indy Canada contest that took place at the next event on the Champ Car racing circuit.
The level of competitiveness was unreal in Vancouver. Because I had just competed in Toronto the other contestants knew all about me. I was already viewed as a threat. Try to make friends with that going on???!! Although there were some really pleasant girls in the finals and I made many new friends in Vancouver, my savior was my Toronto roommate, who was also my first runner-up in Toronto. The stakes were much higher now – there was $10,000 in cash and prizes up for grabs and a trip to Australia to another Champ Car race for the winner. I was just trying to make extra cash to put towards my tuition! I never thought I could win.
I thought it would be a girl from Vancouver for sure...there were 18 of them, and two of us from Toronto. But I did my routines, and learned as much as I could about racing in that short span of time and did everything that was asked of me. When Canadian race car driver Paul Tracy, who was announcing the winner on the Vancouver stage, started his sentence with "and she's from my hometown," I knew it was me. A camera actually caught my mouth drop to the floor!! As they put the sash over me, I muttered "What have I done to myself now!?" Holy cow I was going to Australia...while I was in school....oh god....how was I going to do that?! But I was thrilled anyway!
My jaw dropped when I won Miss Indy Canada in 2003.
My trip to Australia as Miss Molson Indy Canada 2003 in October of that year was incredible. I can never say enough about that trip. It was the highlight of many awesome things I have been lucky enough to be a part of since being Miss Molson Indy Canada. I swam with the dolphins, went to the big Gala dinners, went surfing, played beach volleyball and watched a really awesome race at the Lexmark Indy 300 where Paul Tracy captured his first series Championship title. And my best modeling photo shoot is still from Australia!
I continued to learn more about racing with each event and became more and more of a fan. But it was in Australia that the organizer confessed to me I was the LAST CONTESTANT he let into the contest in Toronto. I was his final pick. I knew I wasn't in the best of shape because of being "out of practice" in modeling. But he had a feeling about me and let me into the contest, guessing that I'd prepare for the finals, which were a few months away. I guess I did okay EH!?
During my reign as Miss Molson Indy Canada and Toronto 2003 I had a lot of work to do to strengthen the popularity of the contest, especially in Toronto because it was new. I started working on the other side of things, more on the promotional aspects. I took my title and ran with it!!
Relaxing poolside in Australia for another photo shoot. Photo: David Magahy
I started contacting newspaper, and TV stations and introduced myself as the new Miss Molson Indy Canada. I found myself in the Toronto Sun's Winter Swimsuit Edition, where they flew us to the Caribbean for the shoot. I got onto TSN's (Canada's version of ESPN) show called "Off the Record."
By this time, I really needed a website to keep up with my appearances, and any new events I was becoming apart of. So in late 2003, my website appeared. www.lynnekush.com But it was not until 2004 when I really had things to post on it.
The Sunshine Girl led to a Caribbean calendar shoot in St. Vincent. (Photos: Silvia Pecota )
I had a small role to play in the organizing of the 2004 Miss Molson Indy contests and gave away my titles to a new girl from Toronto. I had developed a great working relationship with the promotional company that ran the contests, Molson Sports and Entertainment, and the Champ Car racing series, around which the contests are held. Due to this, during my last few hours of fame I got to wave the "flags" at one of the practice sessions for the race, went to dinner with the owner and president of Champ Car, and had my name printed on the side of a Parade Vehicle Viper during the parade lap of what was the last Molson Indy Vancouver!
Now what could ever top this experience?? Not much. Or so I thought!
I knew that I could never enter another contest. Not much was ever going to be better than my title of Miss Molson Indy Canada. However shortly after that, I ran into a really fun golf tournament that was run by Playboy. The organizers were looking for contestants for their contest, which was really to pick two hostesses to represent Toronto at the Playboy Golf Tournament Finals in LA. It wasn't really "Playboy," but more of a hostess job. So I went to the golf tournament in Toronto and chatted with all the players as they came through my area on the green.
At the Playboy Mansion; I never thought I would make it there.
Here's Hef at the Mansion.
I think most of them were more intrigued with my advice about how to swing and the dangers of golf to their back! I never thought I would be chosen to go to the Playboy Mansion, and represent Toronto – I was the wrong CUP size..that was for sure! But once again...I surprised even myself, and I was voted by the players to go to the LA golf finals in March 2005. When I was in LA, I was up against 80 other American girls to win the chance at the photo shoot with Playboy. When I was wisked away by all the Playboy executives at the final party at the Mansion...I knew I had really gotten myself into trouble now!
I was their Playboy Girls of Golf winner and suddenly looking at the chance to work with Playboy...a completely new kind of modeling decision! Yet intriguing! I did my first shoot with them and become their Cyber Girl of the Week in September 2005, and then was voted to become their Cyber Girl of the Month for January 2006! And here we are!
Each time I entered into a contest, it was never to win. Of course I wanted to win, but I was just happy to be there. And each time, I never thought it could ever get any better, and yet it did! For every success I had, there were about 10 failures before it!!
And so the story continues! Never know what I'll get myself into next!