“Star Spangled Salute to the Lady Racers at America’s Favorite Short Track
Nashville, Tennessee (5/4/2023) Native Tennesseans will salute America and perform the national anthem for the “Music City 200” featuring the ARCA Menard Series, Pro Late Model and CRA Street Stocks on Saturday, May 13th. The Bennett Hall Band consists of sisters, Kat, Presley Rose and Josie Hope Hall. The band is named after their brother Bennett, who passed away in 2010.
The group has performed at Middle Tennessee venues like The Station Inn, Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Room, and The Johnny Cash Hideaway Farm. The band is no stranger to Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway, being loudly applauded on previous occasions. Kat, Presley and Josie performed for the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway Hall of Fame 2022 induction ceremony, a yearly event to honor the famed members from the past and present era.
The staff and management at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway will honor the many ladies that have attempted to compete or have competed on the quarter mile or 5/8th-mile during the “Music City 200” event.
A treat for the fans will be a 5:45pm autograph session held on the main concourse behind the grandstand. In addition to the historical female drivers from the Nashville Fairgrounds past, will be an opportunity to meet the newest Music City USA driver, Pro Late Model driver, Quinn Davis from the great state of Arizona. Speedway officials have also invited many Nashville and Middle Tennessee Girl Scouts of America to be a part of the autograph festivities.
Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway, prior to the 1970’s, held “powder puff” type racing events with no points or championships awarded. Debbie Watson Kaylor and Lillie Buford made their names known during the days of “powder puff”.
Off the local path for record purposes, Janet Guthrie from Iowa City, Iowa is the only female driver to ever start a NASCAR Cup Series event at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway. Guthrie started 15th and finished 15th for the 1977 Nashville 420. She drove car #68 sponsored by Kelly Girl.
Boyd Adams, leaseholder from 1988 through 1994, made the decision in 1992 to start a “full-fledged” Womens’ Street Modified division on the quarter mile. The lineup for the 1993 Women’s Street Modified division included thirteen participants, #01 Connie Cain, #1 Shannon Taylor, #12 Melissa Smithson, #14 Suzanne Hessey, #17 Jane Ann Bass, #18 Cheryl Addington, #20 Melba Kestner, #23 Marsha Ragland, #24 Carol Hackett, #33 Amy Whitehurst, #60 Brenda Milton, #75 Beverly Patterson and #709 Darlene Earheart.
Bob Harmon took control of the lease in 1995, continuing for one more year the Women’s Street Modifieds. Harmon decided in 1996 to move the division and combine it with the men’s division on the high banked 5/8th-mile oval. Many of the women of the “WSM” moved to the 5/8th, building cars of their own. In most cases on the quarter mile, the same car was used for both men and women race events.
The championship standings after four years of racing the Women’s Street Modified.
* 1992 Beverly Patterson won the championship for the start-up year
* 1993 & 1994 Amy Whitehurst claimed the title for back-to-back championships
* 1995 Connie Cain took home the hardware as the final champion for the division
The high banked 5/8th-mile oval history with female drivers has some notable names. They included Cheryl Sage, sister of NFS Hall of Famer, Daryl Sage. Kim Ritter competed during the NASCAR Late Model Stock Car days, along with driving in some ARCA Racing Series events. Ritter drove the #30 Bunny Bread sponsored car at NFS. Deborah Renshaw, from Kentucky, competed on the 5/8th-mile oval, being the first female to ever lead NASCAR championship points standings at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway. Renshaw advanced to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driving for Bobby Hamilton Sr. Racing. Mandi Moore, from Lebanon, Tennessee, competed at Nashville on the high banks and well as area local tracks.
Sofia Ladd competed on the quarter mile track for several years, driving the #75. Stephanie Barnes Duke, took claim to the quarter mile for several years, winning multiple events and coming ever so close to winning a championship title. Brittany Climer has driven in the front wheel drive, street stock, and limited late model divisions on the quarter mile. She currently wheels a SuperTruck on the high banked 5/8th-mile oval. Mandy Ryman competed on the quarter mile and consistently brought home the trophies and she’s a member of the famed Paul “Fat Boy” Ryman family.
Sutherlin Marlin House skipped the quarter mile and drove the #711, in honor of Coo Coo Marlin, her grandfather, on the 5/8th-mile oval SuperTruck division. Sutherlin competed during the 2009 season. The cream would rise to the top on October 8th, 2021 when the first female to ever win a “premier
division event” on the 5/8th-mile oval took place. Brittney Zamora, driving for Curtis Sutton/Willie Allen Rackley/WAR Pro Late Model, took the win for the 100-lap event.
119 years of racing history, 66 years on asphalt, Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway still sets the standard, again and again.
Story By: Donnie J. Redd