Female race drivers…Hear their engines roar!
Much is being made these days about female race drivers. But they are not new to NASCAR racing. In 1949, the first season for the NASCAR Strictly Stock (now Sprint Cup) Division, there were no less than three female drivers pitting their talents against the best drivers of the day. Sara Christian, wife of car owner Frank Christian, competed in the series’ first race which was held at the ¾ mile dirt track in Charlotte, NC. She started 13th and finished 14th. Christian competed in six of the season’s eight races placing fifth at Heidelburg, Pa. on October 2, 1949 for the all-time highest finishing spot for female drivers in NASCAR’s premier series. It was a record that stood for over six decades until Danica Patrick’s fourth place finish at Las Vegas this past March. Christian made one more start in 1950 and decided to retire and raise her two small children.
Louise Smith, the wife of a Greenville, SC auto recycling dealer, made her debut at Daytona Beach in July 1949 and made 11 starts through 1952. One of Smith’s Ford modifieds is on display in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Ethel Flock Mobley was a sister of the famed Flock brothers and wife of her car owner and sometime Atlanta bootlegger Charlie Mobley. Like Smith, Ethel debuted at Daytona in 1949 and not only was she the highest placing of the event’s three female drivers, she beat two of her three brothers in the race. Mobley made one more start in the top series, but continued to enter modified events for a few more years.