KANSAS CITY, Kan. — NASCAR has been a very male dominated sport. But over the past several years, NASCAR says it has seen more women in the driver’s seat and it’s seeing more female fans cheering for those drivers.
When the announcer says “Drivers start your engines,” it’s not longer a surprise to see a woman behind the wheel.
Kansas City, Kansas native Jennifer Jo Cobb has been racing since she was a little girl. But this NASCAR driver also have another woman who helps her keep her vehicle in gear.
“It’s different for girls to come down pit road, especially in a fire suit. It’s just not expected,” said Liz Snyder, one of Cobb’s pit crew.
Synder, 23, is turning heads, not just because of her beauty, but because she’s a contributing member of Cobb’s pit crew.
“Sometimes they wonder what I do or if I’m just one of Jenn’s helpers and when I actually go over the wall, they’re like ‘Wow, she can actually do it,’” Synder said.
Cobb says women behind the wheel and working in the pit is becoming more common place and so are the growing number of NASCAR’s female fans.
“It’s not just that they are here, but they are engaged. They know a lot about the sport and they know a lot about the race. Cars and the race trucks and you see them wearing the race gear,” she said.
“Three years ago, I knew nothing about it. But my boyfriend is very involved in it and now I’m glued to it,” said Michele Edwards, a NASCAR fan from Iowa. “I love the speed. I love the aura. I love the crowds.”
Attracting more women to racing is something NASCAR has embraced and has reported the once male dominated sport currently has a 60 percent male to 40 percent female fan base.
“We feel that it’s a testament to the way our sport is becoming more inclusive and certainly a young lady by the name of Danica Patrick has been a boost over the last couple of years,” NASCAR spokesperson David Higdon told FOX 4 News.
Higdon said the sport draws an average of two million female viewers whenever a race is broadcast.
“We are having a very concerted effort to diversify our driver base and diversify everything we are doing across the line,” he said.
NASCAR says the family friendly atmosphere is attracting more women, but one fan says it’s the male race car drivers that lured her into loving the sport.
Sunday’s race at the Kansas Speedway will be broadcast on FOX 4 as a part of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the STP 400.
Live coverage begins on FOX 4 at 11:30 a.m. with the race starting at 12 Noon.