The Ole Days
THE FIRST LADIES OF NASCAR
Here's a little known fact about NASCAR stock racing: a lady started 13th and finished 14th in the very first Winston Cup race. Not only that, two other ladies were regular competitors in the first year of what was know then as Strictly Stock.
Sara Christian raced in the inaugural Cup race at the half-mile dirt Charlotte Speedway on June 19,1949. She started the No. 71 Ford owned by her husband, Frank, then got out and let Bob Flock drive the final 90 or so laps.
Three weeks later, Christian was joined by Ethel Mobley and Louise Smith in the field for a 166-mile race on the beach and highway course in Daytona Beach. Christian finished sixth in her Ford, Mobley was 11th in a Cadillac, and Smith was 20th in a Ford after surviving a rollover in the early laps.
Ethel Mobley was the sister of the Flock brothers, Tim and Fonty. Ethel was named after the gasoline her father used in his taxi. She was married to Charlie Mobley who fielded Tim's car in NASCAR's modified series.
Christian and Smith raced later that year at Hillsborough, North Carolina (Christian was 23rd, Smith 27th), then all three of them competed at Langhorne, Pennsylvania, where Christian was sixth, Smith sixteenth, and Mobley 44th. Christian finished the season with starts at Pittsburgh (fifth) and North Wilkesboro, where she finished 12th.
For the season, she started six races, had one top-5 and two top-10s, and finished 13th in points. In later years, other women would get far more attention than Christian, Smith, and Mobley, but isn't that always the way it is with pioneers?
In 1948 even before they raced NASCAR at Charlotte, Ethel's brother Bob built New Atlanta Speedway and invited Sara Christian, Mildred Williams (Sisters) and his own sister Ethel to race there.