Women in NASCAR: Honoring the sport’s trailblazers
By Terrin Waack | Wednesday, March 31, 2021
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In honor of March being National Women's History Month, NASCAR.com takes this opportunity to celebrate the women in NASCAR. Whether they are racing on the track, working on pit road, managing behind a desk or giving back to the community, NASCAR honors all of these significant women -- past and present -- and their contributions to the sport.
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Sara Christian was the first female driver in NASCAR history. She competed in NASCAR’s first-ever Cup Series race on June 19, 1949 at Charlotte Speedway. Her No. 71 Ford placed 14th. Christian made seven career starts at the NASCAR Cup Series level, highlighted by a fifth-place finish in 1949 at Heidelberg Raceway in Pittsburgh.
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ETHEL FLOCK MOBLEY
Ethel Flock Mobley tied for the second female driver in NASCAR. She is also the sister of Tim Flock, a two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion and NASCAR Hall of Famer. Mobley competed in more than 100 NASCAR Modified events and two NASCAR Cup Series races. She placed 11th in NASCAR’s second Cup Series race ever, hosted at the Daytona Beach Road Course on July 10, 1949. Mobley beat two of her brothers – Fonty Flock (19th) and Bob Flock (22nd) – in her No. 91 Cadillac. Only Tim placed better out of the Flock family, running second. It was the first NASCAR race to feature a brother-sister duo and the only to have four siblings in the competition.
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ANNE B. FRANCE
Anne B. France -- better known as “Annie B.” -- was the wife of NASCAR founder Bill France and the inaugural winner of the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. France served as the first secretary and treasurer for NASCAR and also for International Speedway Corporation when Daytona International Speedway opened in 1959.
Ray Reyes Photo
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LESA FRANCE KENNEDY
Lesa France Kennedy is NASCAR’s executive vice chair. She was the CEO of International Speedway Corporation, but NASCAR merged with ISC in early 2020 to alter her role. Kennedy joined ISC in 1983 and was added to the board one year later. She was appointed ISC president after her father, Bill France Jr., stepped down and then became chief executive officer in 2009. Kennedy was named “The Most Powerful Woman in Sports” for 2015 by Forbes.
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Janet Guthrie was the first female driver to qualify and compete in both the Indianapolis 500 (IndyCar Series) and the Daytona 500 (NASCAR Cup Series). Guthrie was an aerospace engineer before she began racing in 1963. She joined the NASCAR world in 1976. Over the course of 33 career starts at NASCAR’s highest level, Guthrie accomplished five top-10 finishes. Her best result was a sixth-place effort at Bristol Motor Speedway in 1977, driving the No. 68 Chevrolet. That remains the best finish by a woman in the modern era, which Danica Patrick eventually tied in 2014. Guthrie was elected into the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame (1980) and later inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame (2006).
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Louise Smith tied for the second female driver in NASCAR, driving her family’s No. 94 Ford at the Daytona Beach Road Course. That race event was the first to feature three female drivers – Smith, Sara Christian and Ethel Flock Mobley. Smith made 11 career starts in the NASCAR Cup Series, placing a personal-best 16th at Langhorne Speedway in Pennsylvania. Overall, she competed from 1949-56 and won 38 races in various forms: late models, modified, midgets and sportsman. Smith became the first woman inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1999.
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Patty Moise competed in 133 NASCAR Xfinity Series races from 1986-98 and five NASCAR Cup Series races from 1987-89. She had a career-best seventh-place Xfinity result at Talladega Superspeedway in 1995 and a personal-high 26th-place Cup run at Daytona International Speedway in 1988. Moise often created her own teams, and her final one was purchased in 1998 to form Michael Waltrip Racing.
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ROBIN McCALL DALLENBACH
Robin McCall Dallenbach made two starts at the NASCAR Cup Series level in 1982 – both at Michigan International Speedway. She placed 29th and 33rd in the No. 5 Buick. At the time, Dallenbach was the youngest driver to qualify for a race at 18 years old. She’s now a mother to three children, including aspiring racer Kate Dallenbach, who joined Richard Childress Racing’s Driver Development Program in 2015.
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Lynda Petty was the wife of NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty and once known as the “First Lady of NASCAR.” Petty helped establish the Racing Wives Auxiliary organization. She was honored by the Association of Fundraising Professionals with the Lifetime Achievement in Philanthropy Award for her personal commitment to seriously ill children and American troops.
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Shawna Robinson competed in all three NASCAR national series. She raced three times in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2003, 61 times in the NASCAR Xfinity Series from 1991-2005 and eight times in the NASCAR Cup Series from 1995-2002. Robinson had a top-10 finish in the Xfinity ranks – a 10th-place run at Watkins Glen International in 1994 in the No. 46 Chevrolet -- and a pole position at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Her best performance in Cup was 24th in 2002 at Daytona International Speedway and in Trucks was 18th at Texas Motor Speedway in 2003.
Rusty Jarrett | Getty Images
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ERIN CROCKER EVERNHAM
Erin Crocker made 10 starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series between 2005-06 and 29 starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series from 2005-08. Her best Xfinity result was 19th at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway in 2006, and her strongest Trucks finish was 14th at Daytona International Speedway in 2008. Crocker drove for Ford Motor Company’s developmental program in 2004 and then joined Evernham Motorsports the next year. She won five pole positions and netted 12 top-five finishes in ARCA Menards Series competition from 2005-07. She is the wife of former NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon’s longtime crew chief, Ray Evernham.
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Stevie Waltrip was the first wife in NASCAR to attend races and sit atop the pit box, cheering on her husband, NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip. She would monitor the race radio and often kept tabs on gas mileage, and her calculations helped her husband stretch his fuel to win the 1989 Daytona 500. Waltrip was known to give NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt handwritten Bible verses to keep in his car before each race. She continued on the tradition with Dale Earnhardt Jr., too.
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Alba Colon is the director of the competition systems group at Hendrick Motorsports. She joined Hendrick in 2018 and has been a part of the racing community since 1994. Colon worked at General Motors for 23 years and is credited with contributing directly to Jimmie Johnson’s seven championships in a Chevrolet. Colon graduated from the University of Puerto Rico as a mechanical engineer. She was born in Salamanca, Spain.
Chris Graythen | Getty Images
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Kim Lopez became the first female and Hispanic official to take on chief-starter responsibilities for the Daytona 500 in 2015. She did so in her 11th season with NASCAR. It was her third NASCAR Cup Series race.
Tom Pennington | Getty Images
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JUANITA “LIGHTNIN” EPTON
Juanita “Lightnin” Epton has been a member of Daytona International Speedway's ticket office operations since 1958. Before that, she even sold tickets part time to NASCAR events on the Daytona Beach Road Courses dating back to the mid-1940s. On July 15, 2020, Epton turned 100 years old and was greeted in her front yard by a parade of more than 100 vehicles (socially distanced due to the COVID-19 pandemic). She is NASCAR's oldest employee and has no intentions of retiring. Epton's late husband, Joe Epton, was NASCAR's first timer and scorer from 1947-85.
Chris Graythen | Getty Images
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BETTY JANE FRANCE
Betty Jane France was the wife of Bill France Jr. and mom of Brian France and Lesa France Kennedy. She served NASCAR in a variety of capacities over six decades, including executive video president. She founded The NASCAR Foundation in 2006. France was a community leader, specifically in Daytona Beach, Florida, where she assisted in establishing “Speediatrics,” a children’s care unit at Halifax Health. In 2011, the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award was created in her honor; it recognizes outstanding charitable and volunteer efforts of NASCAR fans.
David Becker | Getty Images
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Jill Gregory is the executive vice president and general manager at Sonoma Raceway. She took over the role in January 2021, moving from her position within NASCAR as the executive vice president and chief marketing and content officer. Gregory led the marketing, media, communications, broadcasting and diversity-inclusion functions for the sanctioning body. Before joining NASCAR, Gregory worked as Bank of America’s senior vice president of motorsports marketing and Sprint Nextel’s director of the NASCAR Cup Series marketing program. In 2011, Gregory was selected for the inaugural class of “Game Changers: Women in Sports Business” by Sports Business Journal and Sports Business Daily.
Jason Smith | Getty Images
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KELLEY EARNHARDT MILLER
Kelley Earnhardt Miller is the co-owner, vice president and business manager of JR Motorsports, which houses four NASCAR Xfinity Series entries. The daughter of NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt and sister to Dale Earnhardt Jr, Miller shares the team's management responsibilities and business ventures with her brother. In 2015, she was named one of the Sports Business Journal’s Game Changers/Women in Sports Business for her impact on the motorsports community – and that’s just her most recent accolade. In 2020, she became an author with the publication of “Drive: 9 Lessons To Win In Business and In Life.”
Chris Graythen | Getty Images
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Julie Giese is the president of Phoenix Raceway and the only woman in such a role within NASCAR. She took over in 2018 after previously serving as the managing director of business operations for International Speedway Corporation’s Design and Development, where she worked on the design and project management of Phoenix Raceway’s $178 million modernization remodel. In 2019, Giese was selected by the Sports Business Journal for its annual “Game Changers: Women in Sports Business” list. Giese then helped usher Phoenix Raceway through another major change in 2020, as NASCAR moved its championship race weekend there from Homestead-Miami Speedway after 18 years.
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DR. JENNIFER SATTERFIELD-SIEGEL
Dr. Jennifer Satterfield-Siegel is a co-owner of Rev Racing, the competitive arm of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program. She has been a part of the sport since 2009. Her husband, Max Siegel, is her partner on the team, which currently has eight drivers. The NASCAR Foundation named Satterfield-Siegel to its Board of Directors in January 2021. Satterfield-Siegel is also a board-certified pediatric dentist with a private practice.
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Jodi Geschickter co-owns JTG Daugherty Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series with her husband, Tad, and Brad Daugherty. Geschickter and her husband also formed the NASCAR Xfinity Series team, ST Motorsports, in 1994 before partnering with Daugherty. JTG Daugherty Racing currently fields two teams in NASCAR’s top series – the No. 37 Chevrolet of Ryan Preece and the No. 47 Chevrolet of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. The organization has one win at the Cup level – AJ Allmendinger at Watkins Glen International in 2014.
Rusty Jarrett | Getty Images
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Cindy Elliott got involved in the NASCAR world as a photographer and photo editor, and that’s how she met her husband, NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott. The two are the parents of 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliott. She also served as the marketing director of their former family-owned team, Bill Elliott Racing, before working with the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame in the family’s hometown of Dawsonville.
John Harrelson | Getty Images
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Chrissy Wallace made her NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut in 2008, driving the No. 03 Toyota to a 18th-place finish at Martinsville Speedway. In total, she made eight Truck starts, with a career-best 13th at Talladega Superspeedway in 2009, and two NASCAR Xfinity Series starts in 2010. Her best in Xfinity was 24th at Talladega. In 2011, Wallace became the first woman to win an American Speed Association Late Model track championship at Lebanon/I-44 Speedway. Wallace is the daughter of former NASCAR driver Mike Wallace and niece of Rusty and Kenny Wallace, also former drivers.
Chris Trotman | Getty Images
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Danica Patrick retired from full-time racing at the NASCAR Cup Series level in 2017. She drove the No. 10 Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing and became the first woman to win the pole position for the Daytona 500 in 2013. Through 191 career starts – with five complete seasons – Patrick had seven top-10 finishes with a personal-best sixth at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 2014. That result tied Janet Guthrie’s mark for highest female finish at NASCAR’s top level in the modern era. Patrick competed in 61 NASCAR Xfinity Races, too, from 2010-14. There, she had one top five (fourth at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2011) and seven top 10s. She was voted Xfinity’s Most Popular Driver in 2012. Patrick also raced in the IndyCar Series, winning the 2005 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year award and the IndyCar Series season Rookie of the Year award.
Brian Lawdermilk | Getty Images
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JENNIFER JO COBB
Jennifer Jo Cobb races in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for her own team, Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing. She has made more than 200 starts there since 2008 – and continues to add to that total in 2021 – with a personal-best sixth-place run in 2011 at Daytona International Speedway. Cobb also dabbled in the NASCAR Xfinity Series from 2004-18, with 31 starts punctuated by a 22nd-place finish at Kansas Speedway in 2012.
Robert Laberge | Getty Images
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Natalie Decker drives the No. 23 RSS Racing with Reaume Brothers Racing Ford part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. She made her first career start at NASCAR’s second level on Feb. 20, 2021 at Daytona International Speedway’s road course. Previously, Decker competed in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for two different teams. In 2019, she was with DGR-Crosley Racing (19 starts; best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway), and in 2020, she drove for Niece Motorsports (13 starts; best finish of fifth at Daytona’s oval). That fifth-place result marked the highest-ever finish for a women in Trucks.
Chris Graythen | Getty Images
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Hailie Deegan drives the No. 1 DGR-Crosley Racing Ford as a 2021 rookie in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. She previously competed in the ARCA ranks – highlighted by five top fives in the ARCA Menards Series and three wins in the ARCA Menards Series West (which was then known as the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West). In 2018, Deegan became the first female driver since Shawna Robinson in 1988 to win a NASCAR regional-series race. That same year, she became the first female driver in any NASCAR series to win the annual Rookie of the Year honor.
Brian Cleary | Getty Images
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Gracie Trotter became the first female driver to win in a race sanctioned by ARCA in 2020, capturing the checkered flag at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the ARCA Menards Series West. At the time, she raced full time for Toyota Racing Development’s Bill McAnally Racing. She ultimately placed third in the series’ final standings. Trotter continued down the TRD path and now runs part time for Venturini Motorsports in the ARCA Menards Series and ARCA Menards Series East. Her first start in its No. 25 Toyota produced a runner-up finish in the ARCA Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway.
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Toni Breidinger signed with Young’s Motorsports before the 2021 season to compete in a limited ARCA Menards Series (No. 02 Chevrolet) and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (No. 82 Chevrolet) schedule. She ran 18th in her first ARCA event with the team at Daytona International Speedway. When she does make that first Truck start, Breidinger will become the first-ever Arabic-American female driver to participate in any NASCAR national series. Before Young’s Motorsports, Breidinger competed in three ARCA races in 2018, earning a career-high 10th-place finish at Madison International Speedway in Wisconsin.
Jared C. Tilton | Getty Images
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Brehanna Daniels is believed to be not only the first African-American female tire changer to go over the wall in the NASCAR Cup Series’ iconic Daytona 500 (2019), she is also the first to do so in any NASCAR national series event. In 2017, she pitted in the NASCAR Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series at Dover International Speedway. Her first Cup gig came in 2018 at Daytona International Speedway in July. Before NASCAR, Daniels played collegiate basketball at Norfolk State University. She graduated in 2016 and entered the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Pit Crew Development Program.