The highly accomplished racer Natacha Gachnang has been in 16 races since her debut in 2009. Gachnang is also the cousin of former Formula One driver, Sébastien Buemi. Perhaps car racing is a family thing… or not. Either way, she’s that good!
At age 22, Gachnang found herself the victim of a dramatic car accident when trying to qualify for the inaugural FIA GT1 World Championship race in Abu Dhabi. Luckily, she didn’t require any surgery and recovered quite fast. That same year, she became a member of the world’s first all-female crew, and raced at the Le Mans 24 hours in 1991 and again in 2013. There’s no doubt that Gachnang had to face many obstacles on her path to becoming an accomplished NASCAR driver, but that just makes her respectable record even more impressive.
Erika Monforte was born in 1989 at the Zoppola, a commune in the Province of Pordenone, Italy. She showed great promise as a racing driver from a very young age and made her first attempt to compete in amateur tracks more than a decade ago. Her father, Maurizio Monforte, was also a professional racing driver and retired back in 1998.
The up-and-coming Italian race car driver got herself into a few serious races over the years, including the Abarth 500 Italia as well as the Mugello Circuit and the Superstars GT Sprint Championship with a Porsche 997. In mid-2014, Erika Monforte made her NASCAR debut and placed 9th, winning the female category. She’s also the proud mother of two daughters, Matilde and Sofia.
One of the first female NASCAR drivers in the world, Ethel Mobley, has competed in over 100 NASCAR events throughout her long and successful career. She showed great promise from the start, and would often finish in the top ten when it came to car racing. One of her best-known achievements was placing 8th at the Daytona Beach Road Course. Ethel was part of a legendary Flock racing family, with three of her brothers: Tim, Fonty, and Bob Flock actually helping pioneer NASCAR in the first place.
According to Tim Flock, one of Mobley's NASCAR racing brothers, Ethel was named after the gasoline her father used in his car. In 1949, she became the first female racing driver to ever compete against men in the state of Georgia. Mobley was the top woman driver in the southeastern United States and regularly placed first in all-women races.
Chrissy Wallace's racing credentials begin with her immediate and extended family. As the daughter of Mike Wallace, the pro-NASCAR driver, and also the family member of Rusty, Kenny, and Steve Wallace, Chrissy has been firmly established in the racing culture right from birth. In 2007, she became the first female driver to ever win the Hickory Motor Speedway race in North Carolina. Her NASCAR debut occurred in 2008 when she participated in their Craftsman Truck Series and finished in 18th place.
Since then, Wallace has managed to secure other victories and records, such as being the first woman to win an American Speed Association Late Model track championship at the Lebanon I-44 Speedway. This was the same track where her father, Mike, won the championship more than two decades before.
In 2015, Natalie Decker joined NASCAR thanks to their Drive for Diversity program. By age 9 she was already a go-kart racer, and by age 11 she had already won 4 championships. Decker began racing 4-cylinder modified stock cars as early as age 12 and began winning various awards from there. In 2013, she took home the Rookie of the Year award by finishing third in the competition. Natalie kept winning various tournaments in the following years, before being picked up by NASCAR in 2015.
Natalie Decker has a much better record than her two cousins. Since then, Decker has participated in three ARCA races for Venturini Motorsports (Elko, Toledo, and Pocono), and finished eleventh on the lead lap. We’ll have to keep up with her fast-paced racing career and see where she ends up in the next few years.