The Women Drivers of NASCAR--Ethel Mobley

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Nothing more fun than sibling rivalry in sports. The Flock family boasted three brothers and one sister competing against each other as pioneers on the NASCAR racetracks.

Ethel Mobley (née Flock) (March 8, 1920 - June 26, 1984) of Fort Payne, Alabama became the second female to drive in NASCAR history. Her three racing brothers were Tim Flock, Fonty Flock and Bob Flock. She was married to Charlie Mobley, who fielded Tim's car in NASCAR's modified series.

On July 10, 1949 at NASCAR's second event ever at the Daytona Beach Road Course the four Flocks raced against each other. The event was the first to feature a brother and a sister, and the only NASCAR event to feature four siblings. Moreover, the race featured two other female drivers (Sara Christian who finished 6th and Louise Smith who finished 20th).

Ethel beat Fonty and Bob by finishing eleventh (her career high), and Tim finished second. She made her only other career Cup start at Langley Speedway and finished 44th. In June, 1949, she entered a racing competition in Florida, competing against 57 men drivers. She finished in 8th place.

On August 7, 1949, Ethel Mobley became the first female racecar driver to compete against men in the state of Georgia when she entered a race at Central City Park Speedway in Macon, Georgia. She was rated as the top woman driver in the southeastern United States, having won many competitions in all-women races.

In 1948 her brother Bob built New Atlanta Speedway just outside Jonesboro. To attract larger crowds, he invited Ethel, Sara Christian, and Sara’s sister, Mildred Williams, to race at the new track. During her career she raced in over 100 NASCAR Modified events.

Women Drivers of NASCAR: Louise Smith

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Born July 31, 1916, Louise Smith hailed from Greensville, SC. In 1946, three years before he started NASCAR, Bill France Sr. needed a novelty driver to promote a race at the Greenville-Pickens Speedway: he chose Louise.

While she had never been to the racetrack or driven a race car, she was rumored to have "outrun every lawman and highway patrol" in the area.

Smith's fearless and aggressive style of driving earned her a Third-Place finish that day in 1946. Although Smith was only chosen as a publicity stunt for one race, she made a name for herself in the racing world by recording 38 minor-league victories over an 11-year span. Along with those wins she broke nearly every bone in her body, and one crash that left her with 48 stitches and four pins in her knee. Although she retired from racing in 1956, she remained associated with the sport and returned in 1971 as a car owner for numerous drivers.

In 1999, Smith was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.

On April 15, 2006 she died at the age of 89. Although she was not truly the first woman driver in NASCAR, barnstormer Louise was known as "The First Lady of Racing."

The Women Drivers of NASCAR--Sara Christian

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I’m a trivia buff. With all the attention on Danica Patrick, I became curious about women who blazed the racing tracks. First up, Sara Christian (1918-1980).

In her 2 year-career driving on what is now the Sprint Cup circuit, Sara Christian racked up a number of firsts:

She competed in NASCAR’s inaugural race on June 19, 1949 at Charlotte Speedway, finishing 14th.

She, Ethel Mobley and Louise drove in the second race at the Daytona Beach Road Course on July 10, 1949, making it the first race to include three woman drivers.

The Daytona race marked another unique event. Sara’s husband Frank Christian also competed, with the Christians being the only married couple to compete in a NASCAR race.

Sara was also the first woman to make a Top 10 finish. Sara finished 5th at Heidelberg Raceway in Pittsburgh, the only Top 5 finish by a woman driver in NASCAR history. At the end of the 1949 season Sara finished 13th in point standings and received the United States Drivers Association Woman Driver of the Year.

Retiring in 1950, Sara was inducted in the Georgia Automobile Racing Hall of Fame in 2004.