It wasn’t that long ago when a woman in racing was virtually unheard of. Today, women are making such dramatic inroads into the once totally male-dominated sport that soon the fact that a race winner is a female will be a little note.
Until then, I have decided to take the time to acknowledge the best. Here is my list of the four greatest women drivers in motorsports.
Lyn St. James is just one of five women who successfully qualified for the Indianapolis 500, and became the first woman to win the Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year award.
Her greatest success has been in sports cars on road courses, with an impressive career driving in the IMSA series.
Lyn St. James has two victories at the 24 Hours of Daytona, along with a win at the prestigious 12 Hours of Sebring. She also competed twice at the 24 Hours of LeMans.
She founded the Women in the Winner's Circle Foundation in 1994 and is a motivational speaker and a member of NASCAR's Diversity Council.
Katherine Legge competed in the 2005 Toyota Atlantic Championship, where she won the series opener at Long Beach in her first career Toyota Atlantic start.
In doing so, “Kat” became the first woman to win a major open-wheel race in North America. Legge went on to win two more races to finish the season third in the championship with a total of three wins and five podiums.
She also received the Toyota Atlantic BBS Rising Star 2005 Award.
Prior to the Toyota Atlantic series, she raced in several developmental open-wheel series in Britain, including Formula 3, Formula Renault, and Formula Ford.
She was the first woman to receive the BRDC's "Rising Star" accolade and the 2005 RACER Magazine "Most Promising Road Racer of The Year" award.
Driving for PKV Racing in the 2006 Champ Car season, she became the first woman to lead a lap in series history.
She finished sixth at Milwaukee and eighth at Cleveland finishing third in the chase for Rookie of the Year honors.
Legge switched to Dale Coyne Racing in 2007, and a her best result in the series was a sixth place, twice.
For 2008, she raced for Audi in the DTM series and impressed in the older car enough to be assigned one of the desirable seats in the newer chassis for 2009.
“Cha-Cha” Muldowney is first woman to receive a license to drive a top fuel dragster by the NHRA. She won the NHRA Top Fuel championship in 1977, 1980 and 1982. She has been christened the "First Lady of Drag Racing."
In 1984, she was sidelined for a long period after a horrific crash but returned to the drag strip in the late 1980s.
She continued to race, mostly without major sponsorship, throughout the 1990s in IHRA competition, as well as match-racing events.
In the 1983 film "Heart Like a Wheel," Bonnie Bedelia portrayed Muldowney. The movie covered Muldowney's life and career.
She is ranked No. 5 on the National Hot Rod Association Top 50 Drivers list. In 2004, she was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.
She is the most successful and well-known female rally driver of all time, as well as unquestionably the most successful female in motorsports as a whole.
She was the first and only woman to win a round of the World Rally Championship, the Rallye Sanremo in 1981.
One year later, she won in Portugal, Brazil, and Acropolis. It was only the unreliability of the Audi Quattro that she was driving that kept her from winning the WRC Championship.
Michèle Mouton was the first woman to win the Pikes Peak International Hillclimb race in 1985. Mouton effectively quit rallying after the Group B category was dropped in late 1986.
She is a key figure in the organization of the Race of Champions in 1988 and continues to be a driving force behind the event.
She also has taken part in the 1975 24 Hours of Le Mans, on an all-female team.
In 2000, she temporarily came out of retirement to finished second driving a Porsche 911 in the London-Sydney Marathon with a co-driver.