The Five Greatest Female Race Car Drivers in History

True legends aren't manufactured they are forged by adversity and shine bright in triumph and losses.

race car driver

The realm of race car driving has long been dominated by men, but over the years, a formidable contingent of female drivers has shattered speed barriers and stereotypes alike. These trailblazing women have not only competed but also excelled in one of the most adrenaline-pumping sports on the planet. Here, we celebrate the five greatest female race car drivers in history, whose prowess behind the wheel is nothing short of legendary.

1. Michèle Mouton

Legendary French race car driver Michèle Mouton
  • Nationality: French
  • Achievements:
    • First woman to win a World Championship rally.
    • Four victories in the World Rally Championship (WRC).
    • Second in the WRC drivers’ championship in 1982.

Michèle Mouton, a French rally driver, made history with her remarkable skill and determination. Her trailblazing success in the early 1980s not only broke gender barriers but also proved that talent knows no gender in the high-octane world of rally racing.

2. Simona De Silvestro

Simona De Silvestro retires
  • Nationality: Swiss
  • Achievements:
    • Known as the “Iron Maiden” in IndyCar.
    • Multiple top-ten finishes in the IndyCar Series.
    • Competed in Formula E and Australian Supercars.

Simona De Silvestro has demonstrated exceptional talent across various motorsports disciplines, earning respect and admiration for her resilience and skillful driving.

3. Lella Lombardi

Formula One pioneer Lella Lombardi
  • Nationality: Italian
  • Achievements:
    • The only woman to finish in the points in a Formula One World Championship race.
    • Competed in 17 Formula One Grands Prix.
    • Scored a half point in the 1975 Spanish Grand Prix.

Lella Lombardi’s pioneering spirit paved the way for future generations, proving that women could compete at the highest levels of motorsport, including Formula One.

4. Shirley Muldowney

“First Lady of Drag Racing”, Shirley Muldowney
  • Nationality: American
  • Achievements:
    • First woman to receive a license from the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) to drive a Top Fuel dragster.
    • Won the NHRA Top Fuel championship three times.
    • Known as the “First Lady of Drag Racing.”
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Shirley Muldowney is not just a racer; she is a drag racing icon. Her fearless pursuit of speed and success in a male-dominated sport has inspired countless others to follow in her tire tracks.

5. Danica Patrick

Danica Patrick on Jay-Leno’s Garage
  • Nationality: American
  • Achievements:
    • First woman to win an IndyCar Series race.
    • Highest finish by a woman in the Indianapolis 500 (3rd in 2009).
    • Competed in NASCAR, becoming one of the most prominent women in the sport.

Danica Patrick’s name is synonymous with breaking records in American motorsports. Her transition from IndyCar to NASCAR showcased her versatility and brought a fresh perspective to the racing world.

Breaking Barriers and Setting Records

These five women have not only excelled in their respective racing disciplines but have also become symbols of courage, determination, and skill. Their achievements have laid the groundwork for future generations of female race car drivers, proving that with passion and perseverance, any barrier can be broken.

In celebrating the legacies of Michèle Mouton, Danica Patrick, Simona De Silvestro, Lella Lombardi, and Shirley Muldowney, we honor not only their contributions to motorsport but also their role in challenging and changing the narrative around women in racing.

As the engines continue to roar on tracks around the world, the stories of these phenomenal women serve as a powerful reminder of the strength, talent, and tenacity that drive success, regardless of gender. They are, without a doubt, the greatest female race car drivers in history, and their legacies will continue to inspire for generations to come.