Mar 14, 2011 - Brett Griffin, a NASCAR spotter who has a penchant for riling his Twitter followers with a distinct lack of political correctness, tweeted an intriguing idea on Sunday night.
The spotter for Jeff Burton in the Sprint Cup Series and Elliott Sadler in the Nationwide Series – and Sadler's longtime business manager – suggested someone "should start a ladies racing league."
Griffin followed his proposal by questioning the ability of female drivers, saying no woman would win in one of NASCAR's three national touring series unless it was a fluke victory (such as fuel mileage).
Naturally, the latter part of Griffin's statement overshadowed his initial suggestion, and he spent the next two hours defending himself against followers who accused him of sexism.
But what if Griffin was onto something with the first portion of his tweet? What if NASCAR – or some other reputable sanctioning body – developed a racing series just for female drivers?
It works in golf. It works in tennis. It works in basketball. Why not racing?
Personally, I disagree with Griffin's assertion that a female driver won't win a NASCAR race in one of the top three divisions. It's entirely possible that a woman could win a NASCAR race – on her own merits – within the next five years.
Take a Johanna Long, for example. If she gets enough experience in the Truck series and finds a good ride, it's not that much of a stretch to think she could win a race three years from now.
The question is, though: Will she ever get to drive great equipment?
Perhaps that's where an all-female racing series could come into play. A series with only women could have the potential to be an amazing showcase for some up-and-coming talent who otherwise aren't getting enough opportunities.
Let's say Long, Alli Owens, Jennifer Jo Cobb and others raced against one another every week. W-NASCAR would highlight their skills, offer a chance to develop fan followings and prove they were worthy of opportunities in excellent equipment and well-funded teams at NASCAR's highest levels.
Given the current economic climate in NASCAR, the only female driver getting sponsor attention is Danica Patrick – and that's largely based on her celebrity and racing racy commercials.
Patrick is learning quickly and making progress, but how are future female drivers supposed to get the same opportunities without posing in Maxim?
Imagine if there was a series where women could grab the eye of sponsors through their performance on the track, rather as a model. At the same time, the drivers would have a chance to display their personalities through interviews and rivalries with other drivers.
Wouldn't "Ladies, have at it" be just as exciting as "Boys, have at it?"
After a year or two, a Nationwide Series team could then partner with a sponsor and say, "Look at this woman – she's consistently winning races against the other top female drivers and she's got a solid following. Let's give her a real chance."
Ultimately, there's no reason to suggest a female driver can't succeed against men based on physical makeup alone. But there is a reason to suggest they can't succeed if every female who comes into the sport struggles to find good cars to drive.
While it would be a monumental task to start a new series, if NASCAR could get the backing of TV partners and sponsors to invest in an all-female racing circuit, the entire sport would benefit.