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Untold history: female F1, NASCAR and Indy 500 racers

REPRESENTING: Tia Norfleet (photo credit: The Source)

THE HISTORY of motor sport has been dominated by men, but in recent years women have become increasingly involved and have achieved success in a field that demands intelligence, determination and discipline.

Shauntia Latrice 'Tia' Norfleet is an African-American drag racer, stock car racing driver and daughter of celebrated Bobby Norfleet, fellow driver for The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR).

In 1958, before Tia's 1986 birth, Italian driver Maria de Filippis became the first woman to enter a Formula One World Championship. Her achievement was remarkable, given the cultural and social climate of the time. De Filippis was 152 cm tall and Maserati had to adapt the pedals with special padding so that she could reach.

By the 1980s, there was still plenty of room for improvement, but the number of women vying for the podium had rapidly increased. In addition to black female representation in the form of Tia, it was during this decade that Michèle Mouton and co-driver Fabrizia Pons became the first women to win a World Championship rally at Sanremo.


NASCAR and the Indy 500 are the races that seem to attract the largest number of female racing drivers, however. Superstar Danica Patrick got the best finish for a woman in the Indy 500 in 2009 when she was the third to cross the finish line.

Clearly, driving isn’t the only career available in motor sports. The industry encourages women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and roles range from the deeply technical, such as engineering and software development, to the business-focussed, such as marketing, finance and legal.

Although the driver is the person that everyone sees at the race, they are just one cog in a much larger machine - each highly-talented team member plays a crucial role and shares in the success. Take a look at the following graphic that explores the history of this sport, and the inspirational women who are helping shape its future:

The research and infographic featured in this piece was conducted by Compare the Market.

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