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Legendary Women in Motorsports: A Few of the Best in the U.S.

It’s a full-package sport

By Audrey Davis
April 01 2022

Contrary to popular belief, women have been involved in motorsports since the earliest days of the sport, either on the track or playing essential roles in engineering and team management. So, who are some of the greatest American women to get behind the wheel in recent years? 

1. Danica Patrick 

The most obvious modern pioneer for women in this sport would be Patrick, whose legacy as the most successful woman in American motorsports history is still firmly intact nearly four years into her official retirement. She became the first woman to win an IndyCar Series race in 2008, when she finished the Indy Japan 300 almost six seconds ahead of the nearest competitor. Off-the-track she’s a media and fashion mogul.   


2. Shea Holbrook 

Holbrook is an all-time great both on and off the track, managing her own racing team while competing everywhere from Laguna Seca to the Bonneville Salt Flats (where she helped set the current bicycle land speed record at 184 miles per hour). She also became the first woman to win the Long Beach Grand Prix in 2011, and more recently, she was one of only 18 drivers who qualified for the all-female Formula 1 W Series. And oh yeah, she’s a Mom. 

Sabré Cook Racing/Facebook 
3. Sabré Cook 

Sabré Cook is proof that brains can get you across the finish line just as well as brawn. In addition to being a W Series competitor along with Holbrook (they are the only two Americans who have qualified), Cook is a mechanical engineering grad from the prestigious Colorado School of Mines. After working as an engineering trainee at Renault in 2019, she became the only female driver to compete in the 2020 Indy Pro 2000.  Cook is also a member of Infiniti’s Engineering Academy supporting collegiate students worldwide.  


4. The Force Sisters 

After joining their father’s racing team, the Force sisters broke all kinds of records, with oldest sister Ashley becoming the first-ever woman to win the Funny Car championship in 2008. In 2012, Courtney joined her with an impressive debut season. And although Ashley and Courtney have both retired from racing in recent years, middle sister Brittany continues to win titles for the John Force Racing team. In 2017, she became the first woman in 35 years to win the Top Fuel World Championship, and in February 2020, she snagged the no. 1 qualifying spot at the NHRA Winternationals with a time of 3.65 seconds. While their Dad John Force may be a legend in the sport, it’s the sister’s Mom Laurie who ESPN proclaimed as the real tour de force driving the family operation. 

Jessi Combs/Facebook 

5. Jessi Combs 

The shock of losing Jessi Combs, one of the most daring female drivers of all time, is still fresh following her tragic accident in 2019. Combs, who was known as the “fastest woman on four wheels,” died trying to prove just that, posthumously setting the female land-speed record after a front wheel failure caused her to crash during her run. Although she had already set and broken multiple speed records throughout her career, Combs’s land speed record of 523 miles per hour will always be remembered as her crowning achievement.  

Related: 5 Female Racers Absolutely Dominating The Sport 



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