The racing industry is known to be a male-dominated one, especially when it comes to racecar drivers. However, there have been and still are professional female drivers who can handle a vehicle like no other. These are the top 5 female racecar drivers of all time.
1. Danica Patrick
You might know her as the “GoDaddy girl,” but Patrick is more than just a celebrity who likes racecars. She’s driven in both NASCAR and IndyCar events, making her one of only two women to do so. She cored pole position in the Daytona 500, won the Japan Indy 300, and has finished in the top 10 in numerous NASCAR events. Her accolades also include:
- Most successful female NASCAR driver in history
- Most successful female in open-wheel racing
- Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year in 2005
- First female to lead the Indianapolis 500
- Most top 10 finishes by a female driver
2. Shirley Muldowney
Known as the “first lady of drag racing,” Muldowney scored her first win in the IHRA Southern Nationals back in 1971. That success was followed by winning the NHRA World Championship in 1977, 1980, and 1982. Her accomplishments helped pave the way for female racecar drivers across the industry.
3. Janet Guthrie
Guthrie, along with Danica Patrick, are the only women to have driven in both NASCAR and IndyCar. She is also the first woman to compete in a NASCAR superspeedway race, making her debut at the 1976 World 600. Prior to being a driver, Guthrie was a flight instructor, pilot, public representative, and aerospace engineer.
Even more impressive, Guthrie built and maintained her own racecars. Her career came to end when she was unable to obtain sponsorship, most likely due to gender discrimination in the industry. Even so, she remains one of the most influential women in the world of racing.
4. Sara Christian
Before Janet Guthrie competed in the 1976 NASCAR superspeedway race, Sara Christian was the first woman to drive in any NASCAR race. She made her debut in 1949 on the Charlotte Speedway, going on to compete in eight other races. While her career was short, it was inspiring for future generations of women.
5. Christina Nielsen
Nielsen began racing as a teenager, eventually becoming the first woman to win the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Series in 2016. She went on to win again in 2017. She’s known for exceptional handling of Ferrari and Porsche supercars, as well as superb performance on grueling tracks.
Gender stereotypes still prevail in the racing industry and society. Many claim women simply can’t drive, as though they lead to more accidents and wrongful death suits that lawyers at The Law Office of Daniel H. Rose would handle.
However, these women have shattered those stereotypes with their accomplishments and have ushered in a new era of female racecar drivers. Their efforts have paved the way for today’s top women drivers like Amber Balcaen, Hailie Deegan, Leah Christine Pruett, Natalie Decker, and Brittany Force.