|Born||August 25, 1918
|Died||March 7, 1980 (age 61)|
|Cause of death||natural causes|
1949 United States Drivers Association Woman Driver of the Yearinducted in the Georgia Automobile Racing Hall of Fame in 2004
|NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career|
|7 race(s) run over 2 year(s)|
|13th - 1949 (Strictly Stock)|
|First race||1949 Race No. 1 (Charlotte)|
|Last race||1950 Hamburg (NY) Speedway|
Sara W. Christian (August 25, 1918 – March 7, 1980) was the first woman driver in NASCAR history.
She competed in NASCAR's first race on June 19, 1949 at Charlotte Speedway. She qualified 13th in the #71 Ford owned by her husband Frank Christian. During the race, Bob Flock took over her car after his engine expired on the 38th lap. He drove the car until it overheated, and finished 14th.
She competed in the second race at the Daytona Beach Road Course on July 10, 1949, and finished 18th. The 28 car field also included Flock's sister Ethel Mobley and Louise Smith which made it the first race to include three woman drivers. Frank also competed in the race and finished sixth in his only career start. They became the only married couple to compete in a NASCAR race until 1986 when Patty Moise and Elton Sawyer would compete for the first time together in the NASCAR Busch Grand National Series. Patty and Elton would get married in 1990 and continued to compete against one another for years to come.
She finished sixth at the fourth race at Langhorne Speedway, and became the first woman to earn a Top 10 finish. Race winner Curtis Turner invited Christian to join him in victory lane. Mobley and Smith again competed against Christian in the race, and it was the last NASCAR race to have three women drivers until July 4, 1977 when Janet Guthrie, Christine Beckers and Lella Lombardi all competed in the Firecracker 400.
She finished fifth at the ninth race at Heidelberg Raceway in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The finish was the best-ever and only Top 5 finish by a woman in NASCAR series history, though on a regional series level it was eclipsed by Shawna Robinson at the New Asheville Speedway on June 10, 1988, when she won the Charlotte-Daytona Dash (a 4-cylinder class) AC-Delco 100 to become the first woman to win a NASCAR touring series race. Christian's fifth place remains the highest finish by a woman at the Premiership, now known as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
She raced in six of the eight events in the 1949 season, and finished 13th in the final points standings.
She competed in one event in 1950. She finished 14th at the 12th race at the Hamburg (NY) Speedway before she retired.
- She received the 1949 United States Drivers Association Woman Driver of the Year award.
- She was inducted into the Georgia Automobile Racing Hall of Fame in 2004.