The Fast And Fabulous Women Behind The Wheel Of NASCAR

Athletes | 3/7/19

The world of racing has always been dominated by men but over time women have begun to stake their claim. Considering the fact that 40% of NASCAR fans are women it makes sense that quite a few of them have wanted to get out of the stands and into the driver’s seat.

Women have begun to enter into the world of NASCAR, where unlike some sports, its a level playing field. Driving a fast car with skill and passion isn’t something only a man can do. Check out these incredible women of NASCAR and prepare to be impressed.

Shawna Robinson Shined in her Rookie Year

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Craig Jones/Getty Images
Craig Jones/Getty Images

In 1988, Robinson landed the title as the first female to win a NASCAR Touring Series. While she had been racing vehicles since she was a child, 1988 marked the first year Robinson began competing professionally. Her early success led her to be named the 1988 “Most Popular Driver” and “Rookie of the Year.”

Three years later, she moved on to the Busch Series but didn’t do as well. Robinson put up respectable times for the next three years but chose to retire in order to start a family. Like many women at the top of their field, she couldn’t resist the itch and returned to driving. In 2005, she retired for good.

Racing is Jennifer Jo Cobb’s Life

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Robert Laberge/NASCAR/Getty Images
Robert Laberge/NASCAR/Getty Images

Not only is Cobb one of the best female NASCAR drivers of all time but she is also a team owner. She began racing in 1991 with her father, Joe Cobb. By 2002 she started in the ARCA Racing Series and two years later, she made her NASCAR debut.

Cobb holds the record for being the woman with the highest points in any major NASCAR series. She’s the highest finishing female in the Truck Series and in 2011, she started her own racing team. Cobb is so popular in NASCAR that her clothing line, Driver Boutique, still regularly sells out.

Sara Christian is a Hall of Famer

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ISC Images & Archives/Getty Images
ISC Images & Archives/Getty Images

You can’t talk about women in NASCAR without mentioning the very first one. In 1949, Christian drove a Ford in the inaugural NASCAR race at Charlotte Speedway. Driving under the number 71, she placed 13th in the qualifier. During the race, driver Bob Flock took over the car after his engine expired, and he ended up finished 14th.

Christian continued to race during the 1949 NASCAR season. She ended up ranking 13th overall in the final standings. She retired one year later but that didn’t stop the Georgia Automobile Racing Hall of Fame from inducting her in 2004.

Next, this NASCAR driver worked as a model before finding her passion behind the wheel.

Milka Duno Was a Model First

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Robert Laberge/Getty Images
Robert Laberge/Getty Images

Born in Venezuela, Duno has had a strange path to her career as a race car driver. She didn’t actually begin racing until she was 24 years old, which is relatively late for the sport. Before that, she was a model and an academic. Duno has master’s degrees in Marine Biology, Naval Architecture, Organizational Development, and Maritime Business.

Despite her past careers Duno chose to be a driver. She holds the record for the highest finish by a female driver in the 24 Hours of Daytona, and in 2014, she signed on to drive in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

Janet Guthrie

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Robert Alexander/Getty Images
Robert Alexander/Getty Images

Even though she had a successful career as an aerospace engineer, Guthrie decided in 1972 that she was going to be a full-time NASCAR driver. At that time, no woman has raced in NASCAR in a decade! In her first race, the 1976 World 600, she finished 15th and ahead of Dale Earnhardt.

From there, she went on to become the first female to qualify and compete in both the Indianapolis 500 and Daytona 500. She made such a dent in NASCAR history that her race suit and helmet are actually on display at the Smithsonian. Guthrie is the benchmark that women in NASCAR still compete with.

Tammy Jo Kirk Also Loves Motorcycles

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A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images
A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Tammy Jo Kirk began racing motorcycles when she was nine years old and quickly moved up the ranks as a teen. She expected to race motorcycles all her life but became frustrated that no companies would work with her because she was female. Eventually, it became so annoying she moved to racing cars instead.

In 1991, she joined the NASCAR All-American Challenge Series and the rest was history. By 1994, she was crowned the “Most Popular Driver” and in 1997, she moved on to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Kirk continued her successful racing career until 2003 when she retired to open up a motorcycle dealership.

Keep reading to learn all about the twins that took over NASCAR.

Louise Smith, “The First Lady of Racing”

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ISC Archives/Getty Images
ISC Archives/Getty Images

Smith tied with another driver, Ethel Mobley, to become the second female driver in NASCAR. She attended the inaugural NASCAR race in 1949 and, while watching from the stands, vowed to enter her family’s Ford coupe in the next race. She ended up rolling the car but that didn’t stop her.

Between 1949 and 1956, Smith went on to win 38 races. She returned in 1971 as a car sponsor for other drivers, including Ronnie Thomas in his rookie year. Fans loved her so much that she has been nicknamed the “first lady of racing.”

Angela And Amber Cope Shared A Car

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Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images
Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images

Born in 1983, these twins began racing karts when they were 9 years old and have never looked back. The two made NASCAR history in 2010 when they both competed in a top three series. When competing against each other, Angela often finished ahead of Amber. Still, the two frequently team up and split seat time in longer races.

While the twins have built a successful NASCAR career they admit that getting their start wasn’t easy. That’s because for the first few years, they had to share a car which meant they both lost precious learning time. Luckily, it doesn’t seem to have effected them too much.

Coming up, this driver might be the most famous of all.

Patty Moise Raced Plenty of Times

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ISC Images & Archives/Getty Images
ISC Images & Archives/Getty Images

Moise began racing when she was just 16 years old. She made her NASCAR debut ten years later at the Busch Series in 1986. She’d end up driving 133 Busch Series races and landing in the top ten four times. That alone made her one of the top female NASCAR drivers of all time.

Some people might also know her as the wife of another NASCAR driver, Elton Sawyer. With everything she did for women in racing, we should really be saying that Elton Sawyer is Patty Moise’s husband.

Danica Patrick Dropped Out of High School to Race

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Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Probably the most popular female driver in history is none other than Danica Patrick. Born to a working-class family, Patrick began racing karts when she was 10. She knew she was destined for racing stardom and dropped out of high school in 1998 to pursue her career.

In 2005, she entered the IndyCar Series and was named “Rookie of the Year.” Patrick was so successful that she entered the NASCAR Nationwide Series only five years later. Over the course of her impressive career she’s finished with

The woman coming up is still a teenager but she’s already challenging Danica’s legacy.

Kelly Sutton Raced Until She Couldn’t Any More

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Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images
Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images

Like Danica Patrick, Sutton began racing karts when she was 10 years old. She also planned on a long and successful career but that was put on hold when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at the age of 16. Sutton held off on turning to NASCAR until 1992 when she finally entered the Old Dominion Speedway race.

Sutton only raced professionally for three years before retiring, but during that time she won seven feature races and the title of “Most Popular Driver.” Sadly, she was involved in a 2013 motorcycle accident that left her severely injured and has never been able to race again.

The Rising Star: Hailie Deegan

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Meg Oliphant/Getty Images
Meg Oliphant/Getty Images

She’s still a teenager but Hailie Deegan is already making waves as the newest up and coming female driver in NASCAR. In September 2018, Deegan made history by winning the NAPA Auto Parts/Idaho 208. She was the first female to ever do so! The race has long been seen as a “launch pad” for many NASCAR careers.

Deegan grew up off-road vehicles and dirt bikes. It was only in 2016 that Deegan transitioned to racing on asphalt but within the year, she was already on many NASCAR team’s radars. With numbers rivaling some of the best female drivers in NASCAR history, Deegan probably won’t be going away any time soon.

Kim Crosby Is Waiting For Her Re-Entry Into Racing

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Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Despite growing up with a love of racing, Crosby never believed she’d turn NASCAR driving into a career. She achieved a master’s degree in Educational Administration and worked as a school principal while drag racing on the side. In 2003, she left her job to pursue racing full time and in 2004, she made her Busch Series debut at the Talladega Superspeedway.

Since then, Crosby has made more than ten starts and has also been a driver for Monster Jam. While she isn’t officially retired, Crosby has been laying low and plans to return to NASCAR when “the right opportunity” comes.

Tina Gordon Dropped Everything for NASCAR

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A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images
A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Despite having the same last name as legendary NASCAR drivers Jeff Gordon and Robby Gordon, Tina Gordon is not related and had to climb her way to the top of NASCAR on her own. Gordon competed in barrel racing and rodeos and a kid but didn’t begin racing cars until she met her husband Gary.

Gordon owned an insurance agency but sold it in 1998 because she fell in love with racing. One year later, she entered the NASCAR All-Prof Series and finished 20th. Throughout her career, she made 16 starts and finished once in the top ten.

Johanna Long Earns Her Spot On The Podium

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Sean Gardner/Getty Images
Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Long got her start in racing as a child thanks to her father’s own passion for racing cars. She wanted to start racing karts when she was five but had to wait until she was eight to be big enough for safety reasons. She eventually transitioned from karts to cars and in 2009, she made her transition to NASCAR and raced in a variety of series.

In 2009 alone, Long participated in 38 events and ended up with 27 top ten finishes, 17 top five finishes, and 5 wins. Since then, she’s topped other races and even became the Snowball Derby winner in 2010.

Ethel Mobley Comes From A Legendary Family

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ISC Images & Archives/Getty Images
ISC Images & Archives/Getty Images

Mobley was the other woman tied for the title of the second female to every drive in NASCAR history. She hailed from a car-loving family. The “Flying Flocks” are considered to be NASCAR pioneers and consist of her three bother: Tim, Font, and Bob. She was even named after the gasoline her father used in his car.

Mobley made her debut in 1949 and raced in over 100 NASCAR Modified events in her long career. It was early in her career that she finished with one of her top spots, when she places 8th at the Daytona Beach Road Course.

Julia Landauer Found Her Team

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@ForbesSports/Twitter
@ForbesSports/Twitter

Like many women, Landauer has had a love of racing since she was a little girl. She began racing karts when she was 10 and at age 14 began racing cars. She wanted to transition to stock cars when she was a teenager but couldn’t secure funding. Finally, in 2009, she caught the attention of Bill McAnally who added her to his team.

On McAnally’s team, she made her NASCAR debut at the K&N Pro Series West. While she’s a well-known name in NASCAR, she gained international attention in 2013 when she competed on the 26th season of the reality television show, Survivor.

It Started As A Publicity Stunt For Diane Teel

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@SoBoSpeedway57/Twitter
@SoBoSpeedway57/Twitter

Born in Virginia is 1948, Teel recalled always feeling like a “tomboy.” She loved to travel with her father on fishing trips and help him work on cars. Teel married a mechanic and for a publicity stunt, she was entered into a local car race. While she didn’t win, she did well enough to consider racing as a full-time career.

After that, Teel committed to racing and in 1977 made her NASCAR debut. One year later, she won the NASCAR Limited Sportsman Division series championship, making her the first woman to ever win a NASCAR track title.

Erin Crocker Has Basically Been Driving Forever

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@NascarPaint/Twitter
@NascarPaint/Twitter

Crocker began racing when she was 7 years old and by the time she was a teenager, she’d began winning Mini Spirts. She attended school for engineering in 2003 while racing part-time on the side. Two years later, Crocker entered the world of NASCAR by compete in the Richmond International Raceway Busch Series.

Crocker went on to race primarily in the Truck Series but her career was cut short after she married her former boss/team owner, Ray Evernham. While she may have changed paths after getting married, it’s important to remember how great a driver she was on her own.

Robin McCall Was the Youngest Woman To Qualify

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@dan_mcmichael/Twitter
@dan_mcmichael/Twitter

McCall only entered into the world of racing because both her father and grandfather loved the sport. She competed in small races and never expected to go big until 1982 when she competed in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. That same year, she became the youngest woman to qualify for a NASCAR Cup Series.

McCall’s love of racing transitioned to the real love when she married fellow race car driver Wally Dallenbach Jr. Since marriage, McCall has had three children but still maintains a presence in the sport as a pace car driver.

The Swiss Star: Natacha Gachnang

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This Swiss racer not only carries remarkable skill on the track but she also boasts great looks. Her resume includes FIA F2 Championships and Le Man’s 24 hours. She is one of the few women to have completed the LE Mans.

So we have another pioneer of the sport making their way to the list. It’s great when you see women making steps that put them closer to an equal playing field as all the men out there who don’t have to go over that many hurdles to compete.

The Queen of Controversy: Tia Norfleet

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Hailing from Suffolk, Va., Tia Norfleet is a drag racing and stock car racing driver. You could say that racing is in her blood since her father is none other than NASCAR driver Bobby Norfleet. She became interested in racing when she was just seven years old and doubled the battery power of a Hot Wheels Barbie car to make it go faster.

Although many thought Tia was on her way to a successful career in racing, controversy surrounding her personal and professional life have derailed her efforts. She has numerous criminal offenses on her record and is believed to have lied about her age and other factors in order to obtain her NASCAR license.

Little Sis: Claire Decker

Claire-Decker

At just 22 years old, Claire Decker is a force to be reckoned with. The young woman is a professional stock car racing driver who hails from Eagle River, Wisconsin. She has proved herself a worthy component, competing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, in which she placed 10th.

Claire comes from a competitive family and is the daughter of a snowmobile racer. Besides her dad, the whole Decker family participates in snowmobile racing and has even competed against fellow NASCAR driver Danica Patrick. Impressively enough, Claire isn’t the only female in her family to be a professional driver…

Big Sis: Paige Decker

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Paige Decker is the older sister of Claire Decker and is a professional stock racing driver. She has also competed in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series as well as the Xfinity Series and the NASCAR Drive for Diversity.

Coming from a family of snowmobile races, Paige started racing snowmobiles at just three years old. She got a go-kart when was nine and discovered her love of racing vehicles beyond the snow. Although her best finish so far has been 66th, she is continuing to race and hopes to place in the top 10 in the Xfinity Series. When she’s not racing for NASCAR, she is pursuing her degree in early childhood education at the University of Wisconsin-Stout.

The Teenager: Natalie Decker

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The Decker girls are everywhere! Natalie Decker is the younger cousin of Clair and Paige and made her NASCAR debut when she was just 18 years old.

Like her cousins, Natalie took an interest in go-karting when she was just a kid and won four go-karting competitions in two years. In 2011, she moved up to the Super Stock class and won the class championship at Marshfield Motor Speedway. In addition to her debut with NACAR, she was a competitor in the Alan Kulwicki Driver Development as well as the Drive for Diversity. As of 2017, she is racing for Venturini Motorsports.

Mara Reyes

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Mara Reyes was born in Pachuca, Mexico in 1977. She made her racing debut in 1987 when she was just 10 years old as her father’s co-driver in the Mexico-Cuernavaca Rally. She made her debut as an official driver four years later in a regional championship where she drove a tubular VW Beetle.

Mara continued to race is a variety of series, eventually placing fifth in her first race at the 1997 Mustang Series. However, due to her lack of sponsorship, she had to withdraw. She didn’t let this get her down though and continued to compete in various races through the next decade, eventually became the first Latin woman ever to drive in the NASCAR Busch Series.

Mackena Bell

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Mackena Bell is a professional stock car racing driver who has been racing since she was just five years old. Starting with a trust go-kart, Mackena moved up to Legend cars and started racing Late Models when she was 18 years old.

Mackena participated in NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program, competing in six races in 2010. In 2013, she recorded two top-five finishes but experienced a crash the following season. She did not return for the 2015 season.

Natalie Sather

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Natalie Sather is an American auto racing driver whose interest in driving started when she was just a child. As a Kindergartener, Natalie would bring die-cast cars to show-and-tell. At nine years old, she got her first go-kart and won her a go-kart championship at 16.

She transitioned from go-karts to sprint cars after her win. Not soon after, Natalie was involved in a crash during a race that left her with three compound fractures in her right leg. Miraculously, she returned to racing just four months later. She made her NASCAR debut in 2008 and went on to have 13 top-fives in her first 17 races.

Caitlin Shaw

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Caitlin Shaw is an American stock car driver from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her career began in 1999 when she competed in the Quarter Midget’s of American organization. She transitioned to the USAC ranks until making her NASCAR debut in 2008.

Caitlin competed in the NASCAR Whelen All American Series in early 2009 and accumulated numerous top-ten finishes. Later that year she was the only woman to race in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. While she still races, Caitlin works part-time at Michael Waltrip Racing in the communication and marketing departments.

Chrissy Wallace

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John Sommers II/Getty Images
John Sommers II/Getty Images

Chrissy Wallace is an American stock car racing driver and the daughter of NASCAR driver Mike Wallace and niece of Rusty and Kenny Wallace. Chrissy comes from a long line of professional racers and became the first female driver to ever win at Hickory Motor Speedway in 2007.

Since then, she has made her debut at NASCAR in the Craftsman Truck Series, where she finished 18th in the #03 truck for Toyota. She raced in six races during her first season and finished a career-best 13th in the Mountain Dew 250.

Nicole Behar

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Nicole Behar is a fifth-generation racer who began go-kart racing at just six years old. She entered the K&N Pro Series West with her family team in 2014 and finished 6th out of 17 cars in her first race.

She became a woman to watch the next season when she took home the second-place with at the King Taco Catering/NAPA Auto Parts 150. This won her an invitation into the NASCAR Next program from promising young drivers. Not even of legal drinking age, Nicole has made a name for herself in the world of racing. In early 2016, she relocated to Moorseville, North Carolina so she could be closer to the hub of racing.

Jessica Brunelli

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Like many other NASCAR drivers, Jessica Brunelli’s life has revolved around racing from a young age. From quads to modifieds, she has taken every opportunity to race since she was just seven years old.

Jessica started her career racing go-karts winning two regional championships before transitioning to bigger, faster cars. She made her NASCAR debut in 2009 in the Whelen All-American Series Modified division in Roseville, California. She finished third with 10 tops-fives and 13 top-tens and took home two trophy dash races and earned the Rookie of the Year title.

Kristin Bumbera

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Kristin Bumbera began racing go-karts at eight years old. She honed her skills and realized she wanted something more so her parents began looking for a fast, yet safe vehicle. They discovered the Super Mini Cup race on television and knew that was Kristin’s next step.

Kristin competed at Hoston Motorsports Park in one of her dad’s late models when she was just 15 and realized she wanted to pursue her racing career full time. She graduated early from high school and applied for the NASCAR Drive for Diversity, earning a spot. She’s gone on to take home multiple NASCAR wins.

Erica Thiering

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Born in Edmonton, Alberta, Erica Thiering is the first woman to ever win a NASCAR Whelen All American Series championship. She began her career in 2006 at Edmonton International Speedway, competing in a 1991 Honda Accord. In her first year on the track, she placed fourth out of 40 competitors and went on the win the championship in her second season.

Erica has gone on to compete in the World Series of Asphalt, the NASCAR Pinty’s Series, and the NASCAR Whelen All American Series. She is a sponsored driver on Canada’s Best Race Team.

Francesca Linossi

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Following several years of go-karting, this Italian beauty drove in four rounds of the Citroen C! Cup—the youngest competitor to do so in Italian racing history. Although she did well, she was unsatisfied with the C1 and moved up to the Italian Touring Car Endurance Championship in a BMW 120d in 2008.

Wanting to advance further, she gravitated towards GT racing, competing in the Coppa Shell Ferrari Challenge the next year. Six years later, she was invited by NASCAR to race in the Whelen Euroseries. She ended up finishing in eighth place.

Erika Monforte

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Erika Monforte hails from Zoppola, a commune in the Province of Pordenone in Italy. Born in 1989, this young woman has already made a name for herself in the racing world. Erika began racing on amateur tracks in March 2006, wanting to follow in her father, Maurizio’s, footsteps as he was a professional driver until 1988.

Erika has participated at the Abarth 500 Italia as well as the Mugello Circuit and the Superstars GT Sprint Championship with a Porsche 997. She made her NASCAR debut in April 2014, placing 9th and winning the female category. When she’s not busy racing, Erika is the mother of two daughters, Matilde and Sofia.

There are talented female racers hitting the track in other racing sports, too.

She Grew Up At The Track: Cyndie Allemann

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Cyndie Allemann is a Swiss race car driver. Her brother is a driver by the name of Ken Allemann. She has the distinction of being the first female driver to compete in the 2012 Super GT series.

Allemann was no stranger to the track before she took to racing. That is because her father is a former Swiss kart champion (Kurt Allemann) and her sister is Ken Alleman, who is also a very talented driver. Allemann started her career when she was seven-years-old as a go-kart driver before she switched to racing cars in 2004.

Born To Race: Shannon McIntosh

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29-year-old Shannon McIntosh began her career at Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing in 2011. In 2012, she was the only female competitor in the US F2000 National Championship. Not only does she have the looks but she has the competitive spirit too. When the prospect of competing for Cunningham Motorsports came to her, she was more than ready. Today she competes in the ARCA Racing Series.

Amazingly, the Ohio native started racing at the age of five and has had an exciting career and we definitely will be seeing more of McIntosh.

Scotland’s Finest: Susie Wolff

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Nick Howe/Martini via Getty Images
Nick Howe/Martini via Getty Images

Hailing from Scotland, Susie Wolff is a former race car driver and a development driver for a Formula One team. She is the most successful Scottish driver and also the fourth lady driver to race in a Formula One car. Many ladies on this list are pioneers in their own right and that includes Wolff.

She has made her way up in the racing world, having raced in the Formula Renault, DTM Series, and Formula Three. In the DTM series, she competed for Mercedes Benz. In 2011 she married, in November of 2015 she announced her retirement and in 2017 she gave birth to her son.

Isabelle Tremblay

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Isabelle Tremblay is unique in the world of female drivers. She didn’t become an auto pilot until she was 35—the age when most drivers retire. Isabelle started her professional life as a real estate agent before making a drastic change and pursuing racing. She made her debut in October 2008 in a 200-lap endurance race alongside 97 others drivers. She entered merely to participate in something new and ended up winning.

Not taking anything for granted, Isabelle began training, watching videos of races, reading everything she could, and practicing in race simulators. She went on to race in the first Formula 1600 race and became the only woman to date to have won on this unique road circuit.