Wednesday, September 7, 2011

In the Rearview Mirror: The History of Women in NASCAR–It’s Nothing New


Patrick is not the first woman to grace NASCAR's tracks but her impact
is an important one for our future.
Credit: Christian Peterson/Getty Images for NASCAR


The NASCAR Nation is aflutter with the news that Danica Patrick is headed to NASCAR – partly because she is jumping ship, leaving IndyCar and headed to stock cars. The rest of the whispers you hear is “can she handle it as a woman?” Well folks, I hate to break it to you, women in NASCAR is nothing new.

The first woman to race in NASCAR was Sara Christian. For more info on her career read: Sara Christian: A Pioneer for Women in NASCAR. Although Christian only had seven starts, she claimed one top-5 and two top-10 finishes - laying the groundwork for all the women to follow.


One of the most notable women to have graced the track was Janet Guthrie. Guthrie’s career holds many notable events, including becoming the first woman to qualify and compete in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500. She raced in the Winston Cup Series for a total of 33 races in a four-year span. With five top-10s, her career best finish came with a sixth-place finish in the Volunteer 400 at Bristol. Finishing behind the names of Yarborough, Waltrip and Parsons was a great accomplishment for Guthrie.


In the Nationwide Series – two women stand above (stat-wise): Patty Moise and Shawna Robinson. Moise raced from '86-'98, claimed 133 career starts and four top-10 finishes. Moise also made five appearances in the Cup Series. Shawna Robinson raced from '91 until 2005 when she hung up her firesuit to become an interior designer. After 61 races, Robinson had a top finish of 10th at Watkins Glen during the 1994 Fay’s 150.

In the present day, we have the talents of Jennifer Jo Cobb and Johanna Long, who are both series regulars and have respectively competed in either the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series or NASCAR Nationwide Series. In Jennifer Jo Cobb’s case, she often competes in both series. Waiting in the wings is Alli Owens, a name that we will definitely be seeing in NASCAR in the future.


Women in NASCAR is a great thing, especially taking into account that 40 percent of all NASCAR fans are female, according to NASCAR statistics. We have little girls who want to idolize a driver and dream of being like them one day. Now by looking at Danica Patrick moving to NASCAR, they will have that hope. Maybe one day we will have 3, 4 or even 5 brave women who “have at it” with the boys.


As a woman and as a fan, I can dream of that day where NASCAR is no longer a male-dominated sport … dream with me.

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