NASCAR Celebrates the Story of Mamie Reynolds

by Caitlin Berard

This week marks the beginning of Women’s History month, and people around the world are sharing stories of incredible, inspiring women throughout history. NASCAR joined in on the admiration this morning when it reminded the world of Mamie Reynolds, a true female icon and trailblazer in NASCAR.

If you’ve never heard of Mamie Reynolds, you’re in for one impressive story. The daughter of U.S. senator from North Carolina, Bob Reynolds, Mamie Reynolds grew up in Asheville. And it was in the sleepy mountain town in western North Carolina that Mamie discovered her love for race cars.

To say NASCAR is male-dominated would be an understatement, but Mamie Reynolds didn’t care. She broke through the glass ceiling and became an owner of her own NASCAR team, leading the Reynolds Racing Team through 20 races during the 1962 and 63 seasons. Her team consisted of Fred Lorenzen, Darrel Derringer, and Ed Livingston. And she didn’t stop there.

In 1962, on the August Speedway, Mamie Reynolds became the first female car owner to win on the Cup Series circuit at just 19 years old. The next year, Ed Livingston’s success in the Daytona 500 made Mamie the first female car owner to qualify for the Great American Race.

Mamie Reynolds was only involved with NASCAR for two years, but she set a precedent and opened the door for more women to follow their race car dreams.

Mamie Reynolds Inspires More Female Racers Join NASCAR Ranks

Though NASCAR remains a male-dominated sport to this day, there are more female drivers now than ever before. Mamie Reynolds can’t take full credit for this shift, of course, but there’s no denying that her tenacity in the 60s contributed to the new landscape.

Now, Mamie Reynolds cracked the glass ceiling, but Danica Patrick shattered it. After Patrick’s success behind the wheel, fans and sponsors alike are hungry for more. Though Danica Patrick never won a race, her impact on the sport is immeasurable.

Inspired by Patrick, Busch Light is making an effort to bring in even more female drivers. The sponsor recently announced their “Accelerate Her” program with a pledge to sponsor female NASCAR drivers with a $10 million contribution.

Soon after its introduction, seven female NASCAR drivers joined the Busch Light racing team. One such racer, 22-year-old Toni Breidinger, had the following to say on the expansion of the female NASCAR roster. “I know firsthand that women drivers in NASCAR face obstacles in advancing to the highest level of the sport. But the track doesn’t know gender, the car doesn’t know gender, so gender is irrelevant. At the end of the day, we’re all drivers on the same track racing towards the same goal.”