Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Sara Christian

Sara Christian was the first woman to race in NASCAR, in 1949, at the Charlotte Speedway. She was from the NASCAR heartland of Atlanta, Georgia.

Her first NASCAR race was actually the first official NASCAR race. The series was then known as Strictly Stock. She drove a 1947 Ford and finished fourteenth, possibly sharing in the car with Bob Flock.

Sara was married to Frank Christian, who raced himself, and was involved in NASCAR as a car owner until 1955. She got into racing in 1948, and one of her earliest races was a “powder puff derby” at the newly constructed New Atlanta Speedway. She raced against two other women: her sister Mildred Williams, and Ethel Flock Mobley, who had taken up the sport a few years before. Frank Christian was one of the founders of the track, alongside Bob Flock (Ethel’s brother) and Charlie Mobley (Ethel’s husband).

She took part in six races in 1949, with a best finish of fifth, at Heidelberg Speedway in Pittsburgh. She was also sixth at Langhorn Speedway. For this race, and the North Wilkesboro event, she used an Oldsmobile, instead of the Ford. Out of the six races, she finished five, only crashing out once, at Hillsboro. Her second-ever race, at Daytona, was noteworthy, because it was the only time in NASCAR history that three female drivers were on track at the same time. The other two were Ethel Flock Mobley, who was twelfth, and Louise Smith, who was 20th. Sara was 18th. At the end of the season, she was thirteenth overall. That season, Sara also became part of the first married couple to race against each other in a NASCAR-sanctioned event, when she and Frank took the track together.

In 1950, she competed in one more NASCAR event at Hamburg, New York, but did not improve on her best result, finishing fourteenth. This was her last track outing. After her retirement, she may have helped Frank with some of his other business concerns, which included a motel and a farm. She was the most successful of the early female NASCAR racers, but her reputation was eclipsed by the more colourful Louise Smith in later years.

She died in 1980, at the age of 62.

(Image from http://www.legendsofnascar.com)

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