Women in Motorsports

Who said automotive racing is just for men? There have been numerous instances where women have not only competed but also earned accolades in the sport. Though historically male-dominated, it has witnessed remarkable achievements from iconic women who effortlessly shattered glass ceilings. 

Sara Christian made history as the first woman to ever take part in a NASCAR race in 1949. Another influential figure, Shirley Muldowney, earned the title of the “First Lady of Drag Racing” by becoming the first woman to win an NHRA drag race championship. These inspirational women not only paved the way for others to follow but also accumulated numerous accolades throughout their careers.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the women who are breaking gender barriers and paving the way for female racers across the globe.

  1. Christina Nielsen
Christina Nielsen

Danish racing driver Christina Nielsen made history as the first female driver to win the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship series title. She received coaching from her father Lars-Erik Nielsen, a former racer at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. 

Nielsen embarked on her racing career in 2007, starting with karting. By 2016, she achieved victory in the 12 Hours of Sebring race alongside her team.

  1. Katherine Legge
Katherine Legge

Katherine Legge boasts nearly two decades of experience as a professional racer, competing in various prestigious events such as NASCAR, Formula E, the 24 Hours of Daytona, and Le Mans. 

Her groundbreaking achievements include becoming the first woman to secure a pole position in a Zetec race event in 2000. Additionally, Legge made history as the inaugural female recipient of the BRDC Rising Star award.

  1. Rahel Frey
Rahel Frey

Rahel Frey, a Swiss Audi factory racing driver, has competed in prestigious series championships including the International Formula Master, Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, and the German Formula Three Championship. 

Notably, in 2010, she participated in the LGMT1 category of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In 2019, she made history by joining the all-woman Kessell team in the European Le Mans series, marking the first all-female team to finish since 1977.

  1. Aishwarya Pissay
Aishwarya Pissay

Pissay has made significant strides for Indian women in motorcycle racing, securing numerous victories in prestigious road and rally events across the country. Notably, she has excelled in competitions such as the Indian National Rally Championship, Dakshin Dare, and the Indian National Motorcycle Racing Championship (INMRC), earning herself a Bajas World Cup title.

In 2021, Pissay faced both challenges and triumphs. A serious crash during Round 2 of the FIM Bajas World Cup resulted in wrist fractures, posing a threat to her career. However, after undergoing surgeries and months of rehabilitation, she bounced back remarkably. 

Pissay went on to win the women’s categories at the 2021 Rally De Hampi and Rally of Himalayas, securing her fifth consecutive national rally title by year’s end. Overall, these achievements highlight her remarkable resilience and dedication to her sport.

  1. Mira Erda
Mira Erda

Mira Erda has already achieved remarkable success in the racing world. In 2014, she became the youngest female LGB Formula 4 competitor and went on to win the LGB Formula 4 Rookie Champion title in 2016. 

Erda made history in 2017 as the first Indian woman to race in the Euro JK category and continued to break barriers by winning the LGB Formula 4 women’s category in 2019. She also earned a podium finish in Round 2 of F4 South East Asia on the international stage.

Beyond her racing achievements, Erda is actively involved in nurturing female motorsport talent in India. She serves as a representative in the FMSCI’s Grassroot commission and collaborates with Red Bull India to support amateur karting tournaments, where she shares her racing expertise with aspiring racers. 

Additionally, Erda has established her own Erda Racing training academy and karting team, aiming to guide budding racers toward success in the professional motorsport arena.

  1. Shivani Pruthvi
Shivani Pruthvi

Shivani Pruthvi’s passion for racing is deeply rooted in her family. With her father, BS Pruthvi, a seasoned rally racer, and her mother, Dr. Deepti Pruthvi, serving as her co-driver in numerous events, motorsport became a significant part of her life.

Encouraged by her father, Shivani embarked on her racing journey at the age of 19, starting with Autocross events. Her track debut came in the 2018 Volkswagen Ameo Cup, marking the beginning of her competitive racing career. 

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