Most of the world knows NASCAR as a man’s sport, even though we can’t ignore the fact NASCAR females are rocking it as well. This clashes completely with the fallacy women are terrible drivers. It is somehow logical that among the huge number of NASCAR fans, females would make at least part of it. Of course, it is not possible for them all to become drivers, but you can see girls in motorsports as they are slaying it.
Some of them engaged in open-wheel racing, sports car racing, but some even climbed the stock-car racing scale. Did you know there are more than 100 women who qualified for NASCAR touring series until this year? Even though very few of them contested a full season, it is impossible to deny this number is completely astonishing.
So, when someone asks how many female NASCAR drivers are there, the answer would surprise them. Today we are talking about these a courageous and bold ladies that can stand wheel to wheel to many of male drivers on the road or the racetrack.
The very first female who competed in the inaugural NASCAR race was Sara Christian. Then she got company – Louise Smith and Ethel Mobley. Yet, during 1950-1960, only a few of them competed in touring series. Females are proud of Betty Skeleton Erde, as she set a stock car speed record for women in 1954 at Daytona.
Once more, girls made a break in NASCAR racing, until Janet Guthrie and Dale Earnhardt participated in NASCAR races in 1976/7. Janet wears a title of the first woman who leads a race under caution (Winston Cup Series), while the first lady who leads in a Busch Series race was Patty Moise.
The historic moment in NASCAR Touring Series was when Shawna Robison became the first woman who won it. She also earned the title of “Most Popular Driver” and ”Rookie of the Year” in 1988. This gave a strong impulse to females around the world to try out luck and express their passion for racing. Shawna won the pole position of the touring, but she achieved great success when she won the pole of all three major series and won at qualifications for Xfinity Series at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1994.
Here comes the time when women entered the game on lower levels for the start more enthusiastically. Going from the 1990s, females scored great results at Xfinity Series (Patty Moise), All Pro Series, and Camping World Truck Series (Tammy Jo Kirk). Tammy actually was the first woman who competed in World Truck Series.
Shawna made a small break of contesting, but she got back in full force and won ARCA Bondo season in 2000. After this, she returned to sporadic NASCAR competitions for a few seasons to come. She became the first female that won a race at Texas Motor Speedway in 2003.
NASCAR got the idea to provide a more diverse driver base, which was realized through the Drive for Diversity program. However, despite the fact the program was successful in joining some of the minor drivers, such as Kyle Larson, Darrell Wallace, and Daniel Suarez, there were no females included in the program that had more than one start its major divisions.
The youngest female race driver by 2011 was Johanna Long, who entered the Camping World Truck Series, at the age of only 19. From that moment on, she raced in the Nationwide Series.
Then, in 2010, fabulous Danica Patrick, an IndyCar Series driver, joined NASCAR. She achieved noticeable results by 2012 when she clinched the pole position at DRIVE4COPD 300 and became the second female driver next to Shawna Robinson who made it. The same year, NASCAR honored Danica as the NASCAR’s Most Popular Nationwide Driver.
She became the first female who received this kind of award in the top three divisions. Yet, this is not the end of her awards. Danica Patrick lead a green flag lap and clinched the pole position at the 2013 Daytona 500. The highest finish for any female NASCAR drivers was her 8th position in the Daytona 500 as well. We can count her achievements literally by tomorrow.
Danica Patrick retired in 2018, after the Daytona 500. If you would like to know more about this fierce lady, as well as about other NASCAR female drivers who made great names in man’s sport, AutoWise made a list of 10 female NASCAR drivers of all the time.
From 2014 there is a championship system for female drivers exclusively, formed by the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series. 2016 brought a record of 18 females who raced in NASCAR’s touring series. Among them, Julia Landauer came out as the most successful one. In 2018, Haile Deegan won NASCAR touring series, which made her the first female who achieved this result after almost three decades.
We have mentioned 13 female NASCAR drivers through our text, as these ladies truly deserve special attention when it comes to this topic. However, just as we said in the beginning, there are a lot more female drivers out there. Besides these prominent and experienced ladies, we will some of them who achieved great results as well.
- Arlene Hiss,
- Robin McCall,
- Erin Crocker,
- Kim Crosby,
- Mackena Bell,
- Jennifer Jo Cobb,
- Alli Owens,
- Amber Cope,
- Angela Cope-Ruch,
- Milka Duno,
- Madalena Antas,
- Paige Decker,
- Claire Decker,
- Susie Wolff,
- Courtney Force,
- Leilani Munter,
- Nicole Behar,
- Katherine Legge,
- Brittney Zamora.
In modern times, more and more women are interested in racing. It is certain that this number will only go up with years. These female NASCAR drivers handled heavy machinery without any pain, and deserve great honor from both among men and women.
With over than 100 female NASCAR drivers that have been part of racing and competition from 1949, we can only look forward to future racing events to admire their skills and persistence.