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NASCAR's Female Drivers Finally Have an Opening

Jory FleischauerCorrespondent IFebruary 19, 2010

SPARTA, KY - JULY 18:  Alli Owens (R), driver of the #12 ElectrifyingCareers.com Chevrolet talks with Chrissy Wallace, driver of the #03 GEICO/Germain Toyota Tundra Toyota truck before qualifying for the Kentucky 150 Arca RE/MAX Series race at the Kentucky Speedway on July 18, 2008 in Sparta, Kentucky.  (Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images)
John Sommers II/Getty Images

In 2001, long before the emergence of Danica-mania, the sport was in a similar frenzy as the first female driver since 1989 had qualified for a Cup event. In the coming weeks, it was announced that Shawna Robinson would attempt to run two-thirds of the races in the 2002 season for upstart BAM Racing.

As fate would have it, Robinson would run only seven races before being released. Since 2002, no woman has attempted to qualify for a cup race.

Despite Robinson's failed attempt, it was her venture in the sport that has helped open the door for Danica Patrick and others.

But while the media focuses on Danica, there is another movement occurring that is receiving very little attention. During Speedweeks there was not one, not two, but multiple women attempting to make a start during one of the many races.

10 years ago it was a rarity for a woman to attempt a race in any of the touring series. And when it did occur, it garnered much attention in manner similar to a side show at a carnival.

Yet, here we are today where few have thought twice about that fact that multiple women were here vying for a starting spot. They were looked at, not as a side show in years past, but as what they truly are, racers.

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It is often said that racism exists only because we recognize race. If you look beyond the color of one's skin you realize that we're all human.

For drivers it is the same rationale. Under the firesuit and beneath the helmet is a driver born to race, no matter what sex they may be.

It will not be possible to have a field of male and female drivers participating week in and week out until this is realized.

After the past month, it is clear we are one step closer to that idea being a reality.

So when you watch the sometime excessive coverage of Danica during these next few months, remember how far we have come during the past 10 years.

Drivers like Jill George and Alli Owens are finally able to have their chance in the pinnacle of racing in America in the hopes of some day becoming NASCAR Cup drivers. For once, that dream is not as far fetched as it once was.

And it's about damned time.

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