less car hassle more car love

Car Confessions

A Pretty Place for Ugly Secrets

Confess Here
Home > Car Life > Events > NASCAR Honors Fast Women

NASCAR Honors Fast Women

A new exhibit of cars, helmets, and memorabilia of some of history's most kickass women drivers.
nascar header
Women in the Winner’s Circle: The Traveling Exhibit
NASCAR Hall of Fame, 400 E. Martin Luther King Blvd., Charlotte, N.C.
Through June 8
Details: www.nascarhall.com
Move over, Danica Patrick. There are plenty of other fast women who’ve been racing their way into history books over the past century. Now they are getting their due through Women in the Winner’s Circle—a traveling exhibit that has just kicked off at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina, and will run through June. For example: Long before Patrick became a household name, there was Camille du Gast, a French tobogganer, balloonist, and expert riflewoman, who turned her attention to auto racing in 1901, only to be banned after two races when her native country prevented women from participating in the fledgling sport, citing “feminine nervousness.” Dorothy Levitt Then there was Dorothy Levitt, the “Fastest Girl on Earth,” who, almost 100 years ago, broke the ladies' land speed record when she got her De Dion-Bouton up to 90.88 mph. In addition to teaching the queen of England how to drive, the fur-wearing Brit is credited with inspiring the rearview mirror.
In addition to teaching the queen of England how to drive, fur-wearing Brit Dorothy Levitt is credited with inspiring the rearview mirror.
The list of female racers, and their colorful stories, spans decades, starting with early twentieth-century "pioneers" and continuing to “trailblazers” of the 1940s to 1970s, such as Louise Smith, Pat Moss-Carlsson, and Janet Guthrie. Smith started driving at the age of four and was as well known for surviving horrific crashes as she was for becoming one of the first women to compete in the NASCAR precursor Grand National series in the 1950s. Moss-Carlsson started driving at the age of seven, when her future racing legend (and brother) Stirling Moss taught her how to drive the family’s Jeep. Despite being a petite 5'4", Moss-Carlsson went on to win Europe’s grueling Liège-Rome-Liège Rally in 1960 driving an Austin-Healey; its brake and accelerator pedals were strapped with blocks of wood so she could reach them. The daughter of a pilot, Guthrie began flying at age fifteen, sky diving at sixteen, and racing at twenty-two. The first woman to pass the Indianapolis 500 rookie test in 1976, the first woman to compete in a NASCAR Winston Cup in 1977, the first woman to earn a starting spot in the Daytona 500, and the first woman to start at the Indy 500, she was also among the Mercury 13—the thirteen women who tried out to become U.S. astronauts in the 1960s. The Women in the Winner’s Circle exhibit is a joint production of the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, and the Women in the Winner’s Circle Foundation founded by racing driver Lyn St. James. She was the first woman to win Rookie of the Year at the Indy 500 in 1992 and is featured as one of the “modern racers” of the 1980s and 1990s in a show that also highlights present and future female racers, such as drag-racing star Erica Enders-Stevens.

Add a Comment

Get Social