Danica Patrick turned 32 on Tuesday. She made racing history by becoming the first woman to win the pole position at the Daytona 500 in 2013, and was also the first woman to win an IndyCar event with her Indy Japan 300 title in 2008. Take a look at some of the other most notable women in the world of car racing.
Milka Duno won the Miami Grand Prix in 2004, becoming the first woman to win a major international sportscar race in North America. In 2007, she placed second in the 24 Hours of Daytona, the highest finish for a woman in the history of the race. She’s also a naval engineer with four master’s degrees.
Janet Guthrie became the first woman to compete in both the Indy 500 and the Daytona 500 in 1977. She won Rookie of the Year at the Daytona 500 that year.
Lyn St. James became the first woman to place at the Indy 500 in 1992, finishing 11th. That year, she became the first woman named Rookie of the Year at that race. She went on to have seven Indianapolis 500 starts from 1992 to 1997.
In 1977, Shirley Muldowney became the first woman to win the Winston World Championship, and in 1982 became the first woman to win the championship three times in a row. She was also the first woman licensed to drive Top Fuel dragsters and the first woman to win a Top Fuel event, ultimately winning 18 national championships. She was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1990.
Melanie Troxel was the second woman to win in the NHRA’s Funny Car division, and she’s one of 14 drivers to win in both the Top Fuel and Funny Car classes. She was nominated for the best driver and best female athlete ESPY awards in 2006.
At 19, Sarah Fisher became the youngest woman to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 in 2000. With nine starts, she has the most Indy 500 starts of any woman in history. She became a team owner in the IndyCar series in 2008.
Shawna Robinson started in the Nascar 400 in 2001, becoming the first woman to start in a Winston Cup race since 1989. Robinson also had the first all-female pit crew in Nascar history at the Nascar Craftsman Truck Series O’Reilly 400 in 2003.
In 2005, Katherine Legge was the first woman to win a Toyota Atlantic Championship race. She became the first woman to race in the Champ Car World Series full time in 2006.
Chrissy Wallace became the first woman to win the ASA Late Model Track championship in 2011. She was also the first woman in Nascar history to compete against her father, driver Mike Wallace.
Erin Crocker started racing quarter midgets and moved up to the Nascar Craftsman Truck series. She’s the only woman to ever win a World of Outlaws race.
Leilani Munter is the fourth woman to ever compete in the Indy Pro series. She also finished fourth in a USRA Super Late Model Series race in 2006, the best finish for a woman driver at any Texas Motor Speedway event. She’s also an environmental activist.
Liz Halliday has earned a number of accolades in the Le Mans Series. She’s also an equestrian who hopes to one day make the Olympic team in that sport.
Erica Enders-Stevens became the first woman to win a NHRA Pro Stock event in 2012 when she won the NHRA’s finals. Her and her sister’s junior league racing careers was the basis for the Disney movie “Right on Track.”
Ashley Force Hood raced in the Funny Car division, and she became the fourth driver ever to win the Mac Tools U.S. nationals twice in a row. She competed against her father, John Force, in Funny Car races, and beat him when she won the Summit Southern Nationals in 2008. She stepped away from the driver’s seat in 2010 and gave birth to a son in 2011. She is now president of John Force Entertainment.
Pippa Mann became the first British woman to ever compete in the Indianapolis 500 in 2011. She finished 20th.
Louise Smith raced Modifieds from 1946 to 1956, winning 38 races during her career. She helped promote early Nascar races and sponsored several drivers after she retired. She became the first woman inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1999.