Inside Houston’s Heels and Horsepower, a women-only supercar club
Heads turn when Alex Blair roars up to the valet in a Lamborghini Huracan Spyder. Its convertible is the shade of a ripe tangerine, boasts over 600 horsepower under the hood, and is impossible to miss. Surprise turns to shock as its vertical doors lift and a petite brunette in platform stilettos emerges from the exotic supercar.
“Sometimes beautiful women come up to me and say, ‘I thought a man was going to get out of this car,'” says Blair. “I make friends like that. It is fascinating and rewarding to own the car. It’s nice to show, but nice to talk about it.”
And the very reason why she became a founding member of Heels and Horsepower, a supercar club for women who like their exotic cars and their shoes in the sky. Diane Caplan came up with the concept in 2017; the following spring, she hosted an event with Alex “Supercar Blondie” Hirschi to launch the group. With more than 43 million Facebook followers, the Dubai-based vlogger’s social media site was the fastest-growing auto site that year.
Hirschi, Caplan and Blair have one essential thing in common: cars are their thing.
More matchboxes than Barbie
“It’s what I get up in the morning for every single day,” says Caplan. “When I bought my first Porsche 911, it wasn’t common, but now women are driving all kinds of cars. I’d go to car shows, car meetings, and it was just guys, guys, guys. There was nothing special about women who they bought their own Ferraris and Bentleys.”
So, she made her own club and decided on the name. “I’m a huge shoe freak. I love shoes and I love horsepower. I wanted a name that was classy and identified that we’re women, not girls. I wanted something more mature.”
Growing up, Caplan says she played with more matchbox cars than Barbie dolls. Her dad always had old Mustangs and she loved working on them with him. As an adult, she bought her first Mercedes-Benz and befriended the salesman who sold it to her, the only woman on the showroom floor.
Years later, when the retailer was ready to modernize their online presence and transition to digital sales, they called Caplan.
“They said, ‘You’re the only computer guy we know who loves cars,'” she recalls. “I took a chance and became their best seller within the first month.”
The rest is history. At its peak, Heels and Horsepower numbered approximately 100 members. Sometimes they took Ferraris, McLarens and Lamborghinis to brunch, other times to car rallies. Once, they checked into the Golden Nugget Lake Charles hotel and casino, owned by Caplan’s future boss, Landry’s Inc. founder and CEO Tilman Fertitta.
She had been freelancing for his other venture, Post Oak Motor Cars, since 2017. After the pandemic hit, Caplan relocated to Tulum, Mexico. The Heels and Horsepower events fell through, and Fertitta offered her full-time employment.
Caplan didn’t want the club to die. From the outside, she watched the friendships continue to develop. The women went to the racetrack or to dinner together.
“Then Alex reached out last year and asked if I would ever consider selling it,” says Caplan. Heels and Horsepower was reborn.
Heels and horsepower 2.0
Caplan was strict. It required members to own a supercar — loosely defined as a high-performance luxury sports car — and prove ownership. Bleri agrees with the latter; women who drive the vehicles of their boyfriends and husbands should not apply. But she is also trying to steer the club in a slightly different direction.
“I was thinking I just wanted supercars, but the girls are really good,” says Blair. “I’m more into social. I want to combine the two.”
Community is part of its culture. The Brazilian grew up watching Formula 1 driver Ayrton Senna race every Sunday. He was her idol.
She studied geology in college and later took a job in oil and gas at the Houston office of Petrobras Americas. Through Heels and Horsepower she met women who shared her passion for fast cars and high-end fashion.
“I think Houston has a very high supercar culture because it’s easy to park here compared to, say, New York,” Blair suggests. “We don’t see them there unless we go to the Hamptons.”
As the new president and owner, her inaugural Heels and Horsepower event was hosted in front of Post Oak Motor Cars inside the Post Oak Hotel in the Uptown Glass Room, followed by brunch in the Oak Room, a members-only restaurant.
Jacquie Baly, president and CEO of BalyProjects and an adjunct professor at the University of Houston, rose to a new whip. A newlywed, her husband has surprised his new bride with a Maserati GranTurismo for her birthday.
“The hardest part was finding the color, because I love red cars,” says Baly. “I’ve always been a car girl. I loved muscle cars when I was younger. As I got older my tastes changed, then I became an ultra premium fan.”
She got a Dodge Charger for her Sweet 16 and always had a love for Chevrolet Corvettes — they were popular in Southeast Houston where she grew up. Then Baly switched to the more reliable SUV while her sons were at home. After they both left for college, she traded in her Range Rover for a two-seater Mercedes Benz SL.
When Blair told Baly he was reviving Heels and Horsepower, Baly immediately signed on. She became an official member at the Post Oak Hotel event.
There are three membership levels, each with annual dues: personal ($600), business ($1,000), and concierge ($1,700). Benefits range from access to events to promotional opportunities on the club’s website.
“I was in a band in college and I missed that camaraderie,” Baly says. “We have shared interests in cars, similar backgrounds and many of us are around the same age. There are some women in this group who don’t work full time like I do, but they are just as passionate about their work . live.”
For her second event, Blair hosted a holiday brunch at Brasserie19. She lightly placed a Christian Louboutin lace-up boot on the Hurricane’s bumper, revealing a tomato-red shoe sole.
“I’m very biased because I just love him. We’re both immigrants and we’re really connected on that front,” Baly says. “She created this safe space for women to enjoy themselves and not be judged. That’s her legacy and she wants it to have some kind of footprint on Houston.”
Blair plans to host four events each year and enroll 100 members. For a long time, she liked to expand to other cities and start a Heels and Horsepower magazine. It is also working on a code of conduct. It is important to her that women are held to high standards.
Caplan is confident the group is in good hands. She’s happy to get in the backseat and drive around town in a “big old jack-up” green Jeep named Olive until she pulls the trigger on her next supercar.
“Most guys don’t think much of a Bentley or a Rolls Royce because they’re nice and pretty or fluffy. But when women get out of a Ferrari and a Lamborghini like Alex’s, it’s really something. It’s a thing big when a woman knows what’s under the hood and understands the piece of machinery they’re driving,” says Caplan. “I want to be respectful of letting her shine now. She’s going to take the reins and make it her club.”