Hailie started on dirt bikes at age 7 before graduating to trophy kart. 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.
As an up-and-coming driver in the sport today, Decker begged for a go-kart at age 9 and started racing modified 4-cylinder stock cars at age 12. 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 woman in Trucks.
What can we write about superstar Danica Patrick that hasn’t already been written? Starting on the go-kart track, she never just wanted to be the best woman in NASCAR; she was looking to be the best. 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 2014She 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.
Robin McCall Dallenbach
Robin McCall Dallenbach was the youngest driver to qualify for a NASCAR Winston Cup Series race at 18 years old. She got her start racing Quarter Midgets in San Antonio until she was 14, where she progressed to short tracks. She 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.
She’s now a mother to three children, including aspiring racer Kate Dallenbach, who joined Richard Childress Racing’s Driver Development Program in 2015.
Dr. Jennifer Satterfield-Siegel
An Indianapolis native and resident, Satterfield-Siegel is a prominent pediatric dentist in her hometown as the owner and head dentist at Special Smiles Pediatric Dentistry. Since 2009, she has made a national impact with her involvement in the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program.
Being the first Black female NASCAR touring car owner and sponsor has allowed her to impact an entire sport. 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.
Betty Jane France
The France legacy continues with Betty Jane France, who 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. Her biggest legacy: founding The NASCAR Foundation in 2006, founded to improve the lives of children in need.
Betty Jane also served as EVP of NASCAR and created “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.
Jumping from the go-kart track in California to the big track in NASCAR, Toni Breidinger loves driving fast and turning left. Breidinger has the distinction of becoming 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. 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.
Another go-kart graduate, 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. Trotter is a rising star in NASCAR and has many more successful races in her future.
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 motorsport’s 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.”
Sara Christian was the OG first female driver in NASCAR history. Christian got her start on a former racetrack, which now is beneath Lake Lanier—she won at least one race while there and made all the men mad. She debuted in NASCAR’s first-ever Cup Series race on June 19, 1949, at Charlotte Speedway. Her No. 71 Ford placed 14th, but the headline instead was about three women driving in the same race.
Christian made seven career starts at the NASCAR Cup Series level, highlighted by a fifth-place finish in 1949 at Heidelberg Raceway in Pittsburgh. She finished 13th in the final point standings and received the US Driver’s Association Woman Driver of the Year. Regardless of the bias against women, Sara kicked the door in to make history.
Ethel Flock Mobley
Ethel Flock Mobley, sister of driver Tim Flock, strapped on a helmet in 1949 and was one of two female drivers to join Sara Christian to drive in a NASCAR race. She placed 11th in NASCAR’s second-ever Cup Series race, 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. It was the first NASCAR race to feature a brother-sister duo and the only to have four siblings in the competition.
NASCAR photographer and editor Cindy Elliott met her husband, NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, on the track during a photoshoot in 1988. 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.
When Autoweek asked her which is more stressful: Watching husband Bill race, or son Chase, she answered, “Because I have so much confidence in Chase, there’s really no difference. I knew Bill wouldn’t put his car anywhere it wouldn’t go and Chase is the same. He won’t put himself in a position where he doesn’t feel comfortable. I was confident with Bill and I’m just as confident with Chase.”
Jennifer Jo Cobb
Young Jenny got her passion for racing from her father, Joe Cobb, a racer, back in the ‘70s and ’80s. Thus, all Jo Cobb ever wanted was to be a racer like her father from very early on. 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. A principled, disciplined driver, Cobb has created controversy by walking off track 10 minutes before race time due to word that she would need to start and then park the car.
Chrissy Wallace is the daughter of former NASCAR driver Mike Wallace and the niece of Rusty and Kenny Wallace. At the age of 19, she became the first woman to ever win at Hickory Motor Speedway in North Carolina. Wallace made her debut in 2008, driving the No. 03 Toyota to an 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.
Lesa France Kennedy
Lesa France Kennedy, part of the France NASCAR dynasty, is NASCAR’s current 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. Her son, Ben Kennedy, is also a former driver.
Louise Smith tied for the second female driver in NASCAR, driving her family’s No. 94 Ford at the Daytona Beach Road Course with Ethel Mobley and Sara Christian. Gaining the title “First Lady of Racing,” she originally rolled her family’s shiny new Ford coupe when she wanted to first race cars.
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.
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.
So, as we’ve already seen, wives play a prominent role in NASCAR—and Stevie Waltrip is no exception. 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.
And she wasn’t just watching; 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 the tradition with Dale Earnhardt Jr., too.
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 to the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1980 and later inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2006.
Anne B. France
You don’t have NASCAR without William “Bill” France—and behind every successful man, you’ll find a very resourceful woman. 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.
The pair created what came to be one of the largest and most popular sports in the world. Annie B served as the first secretary and treasurer for NASCAR and for International Speedway Corporation when Daytona International Speedway opened in 1959. She was the financial brains behind the marketing efforts. Annie B. remained active in the business until her death in 1992.
Teresa Earnhardt has a degree in commercial art and interior design—so how in the world did she become a team owner and wife of one of the most successful drivers of all time? Teresa met Dale Earnhardt, NASCAR driver, at a race in the late 1970s. The two married November 14, 1982. Teresa headed Dale Earnhardt, Inc. (DEI) during two Busch Series championships in 1998 and 1999 and two Craftsman Truck Series championships in 1996 and 1998.
Her first win at Daytona was overshadowed by her husband's death in a crash during the final lap of the race. Teresa continues her husband’s legacy through the work of the Dale Earnhardt Foundation with commitment to children, education, and wildlife preservation.
Juanita "Lightnin" Epton
At 101, Juanita “Lightnin” Epton is the GOAT 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. She is NASCAR's oldest employee and has no intentions of retiring.
Epton's late husband, Joe, became NASCAR's first timer and scorer in 1947. “Lightnin’ has been a staple of Daytona International Speedway since its inception,” said Speedway President Frank Kelleher in a July 2021 press release. “Her smile is radiant, and her love for the Speedway and NASCAR is second to none. She loves our fans, too, and works hard to help them in any way. Fans ask for her all the time when they come to Daytona. What a day, and what an incredible person. We are all honored to work with her.”
Erin Crocker Evernham
Erin Crocker Evernham is the wife of former NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon’s longtime crew chief, Ray Evernham, but she got her start at the age of 7 racing Custom Quarter Midgets in Connecticut.
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. She won five pole positions and netted 12 top-five finishes in ARCA Menards Series competition from 2005-07.
When Jodi Geschickter agreed to start a NASCAR team with her husband, Tad, 23 years ago, their operation had a small office in a chicken house, a garage with dirt floors, scant few tools, and five employees. Jodi worked as a flight attendant during the week and on marketing on the weekend.
She and Tad formed the NASCAR Xfinity Series team, ST Motorsports, in 1994, before partnering with NBC Sports analyst Brad Daugherty to start JTG Daugherty Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series. 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.
While Lopez has been with NASCAR for 11 years, her ‘aha’ moment happened when Kim became the first female and first Hispanic official to take on chief-starter responsibilities for the Daytona 500 in 2015. The chief starter displays the eight flags that tell drivers to start, slow down, move over or stop.
Lopez also waves the checkered flag when the winner crosses the finish line. She did so in her 11th season with NASCAR. It was her third NASCAR Cup Series race. "Kim has pursued her dreams in uncharted territory and we’re excited to see her dreams come true when she flags the Daytona 500," Chad Little, NASCAR managing director, said of her success.
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.
Moise began racing at the age of 16, when she drove road course races in the IMSA series. She made her Busch Series debut in 1986 at Road Atlanta, driving a Buick Regal for Randy Hope. She also became the first woman to lead a Busch Series event. 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.
This NASCAR icon got her start racing semi-tractors in 1983 after graduating high school and went on to become the GATR Championship rookie for 1984 at the age of 19. 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.
Her best performance in Cup was 24th in 2002 at Daytona International Speedway and in Trucks was 18th at Texas Motor Speedway in 2003. She retired in 2005 to concentrate on running her interior design business and focus on her family.
Colon graduated from the University of Puerto Rico as a mechanical engineer. She was born in Salamanca, Spain. Long regarded as one of the most influential women in NASCAR, 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, amassing 286 race wins, 12 driver championships, and 14 manufacturer titles.
You can’t mention NASCAR women without noting the incredible Lynda Petty, wife of NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty and once known as the “First Lady of NASCAR.” Lynda was the mother who held it all together behind the scenes, feeding their four children and the pit crew from the back of a 1960s Chrysler sedan parked in the infield.
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. In her later years, she was vocal about how cutthroat the sport was becoming.