Horses are majestic, strong, wild, fast but they’re also tamable, loyal and social. They captivate the attention of women, men and children alike. In fact, tomorrow millions of people, (some who know everything about horses and some who (like me) know next to nothing about horses), will sit in front of their TVs and watch as twenty 3-year old colts* and their jockeys race 1¼ miles for a $2 million purse at the 143rd renewal of the Kentucky Derby. While the race is indiscriminate about the fans it attracts, it seems that it might be discriminate in its participants. Since its inaugural running in 1875 only six women have raced as jockeys and the first didn’t do so until 1970. So what’s the deal? Why are women jockeys such a rarity at the Derby and in horse racing in general?
Way back in 1947, when Bill France Sr. created the National Association of Stock Car Racing (NASCAR) it’s unlikely that he and the roughly twenty other white men in the room with him, had the advancement of women or people of color in mind. And that was par for the course in America. While they met to form what would become one of the premier motorsports organizations in the world, Jim Crow was in full swing and women earned only 46 cents for every dollar that men earned. But just as Jim Crow has been eliminated and women have come closer to earning their fair share, NASCAR has made progress and given women and people of color access to the organization. Last Saturday, NASCAR’s Multicultural Development’s Division invited various groups to be a part of its NASCAR Opinion Leaders activation at the Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS) during the NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series double header to see some of that progress. In partnership with Minorities in Sports (MIS), GladiatHers.com was in the middle of the action.
NASCAR and women are not synonymous; not yet anyway. But there’s a woman, Amber Balcaen, who hails from Winnipeg, Manitoba who’s working her absolute hardest to change that. She is the only Canadian to compete in the 2014 and 2016 NASCAR Drive for Diversity Combine and the 2015 Bill McAnally Racing Drivers Expo. In 2016, she became the first Canadian woman to win a NASCAR sanctioned race in the USA and earned Rookie of the Year in the NASCAR Whelen All American Series for Lee Pulliam Performance. Now signed to Martin-McClure Racing as their NASCAR K&N Pro Series East driver, this full-time racer and part-time student is poised to take NASCAR by storm. We got the chance to chat with Balcaen about her journey to racing, women in NASCAR and lots more. Find out what she has to say, you won’t be disappointed…
If you follow GladiatHers® on Instagram (and you definitely should be) you a got behind-the-scenes look at the Atlanta Motor Speedway for this year’s Rinnai 250 and Active Pest Control 200. We’ll give you a recap later this week, but we wanted to make sure you got a chance to meet one of NASCAR’s up and coming GladiatHers®, Madeline “Maddy” Crane. The nineteen year old veteran racer from Georgia is poised to leave her mark on the sport. Check out our interview below:
For many, NASCAR is synonymous with fast cars and the men who drive them. Historically, women were relegated to being scantily clad race starters, trophy girls and wives. But just as women have progressed in other sports, women have come a long way in NASCAR. Long before Danica Patrick hit the scene women began making strides in NASCAR. Today, in honor of Women’s History Month and NASCAR Week we’re highlighting some of those historically significant women who dared to go beyond trophy holding trophies and photo ops and into NASCAR boardrooms and cars.
Hey y’all! I’m supa dupa excited to announce that it’s NASCAR Week here at GladiatHers.com! *cue applause* All his week we’ll be posting about NASCAR. The week will culminate in GladiatHers.com making an appearance at the Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Rinnai 250 and Active Pest Control 200 Races. Exciting, right?! Be sure to check the blog, Instagram and Twitter daily for updates and lots of great information. Today we’re kicking things off by making sure that you’ve got the basics of NASCAR down so that you know exactly what to expect and what’s going on on race day. So here’s the 411 on NASCAR.