Women in NASCAR have come a long way since 1977 when male drivers protested Janet Guthrie’s qualification for the Indianapolis 500, claiming that women were too emotionally unstable to compete in the sport. Women now are not only competitive on the racetrack, but are also working as NASCAR officials. Here are profiles about a few NASCAR women who are making headlines.
Shawna Robinson was the last female to compete in the Daytona 500, finishing in 24th place. Robinson began racing when she was nineteen, making her debut in 1980 at the Great American Truck Racing tour. Robinson is the first woman to win a NASCAR Touring pole position in a dash race on I-95 in Florence, South Carolina.
Erin Crocker is the only woman to be a fulltime competitor in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. She is also the only woman to win a World of Outlaws Race.
Patty Moise drove an incredible 217.498 miles per hour in 1989 at the Talladega Superspeedway, breaking the one-lap, close-course speed record.
Jamie DiPietro is a single mother and NASCAR manager of safety inspections. She is one of several women working as a NASCAR official.
Female racecar drivers face unique challenges. Since they don’t have their own league, they compete alongside their male counterparts; for this reason, they are more likely to be subject to gender discrimination. On the racetrack, men simply don’t like to compete with female drivers, especially when they are passed by women. There have been a few female drivers to receive professional sponsorship, including Danica Patrick, who recently signed a contract with one of the Nationwide Series teams and is receiving support from Hendrick Motorsports and NASCAR drivers Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick. Most female drivers, however, have difficulty obtaining sponsorship and abandon racing for lack of adequate funds for equipment or to have families.
Other female drivers, including Robin McCall Dallenbach and Leilana Munter have appeared in commercials and as stunt doubles but continue to advance women’s involvement in NASCAR. Women can only continue to blaze the trail towards gender equality in NASCAR and hope for a full-time competitive female driver soon.