Women have been making inroads in sports car racing for decades, and finally, a female driver has won a major full-season North American championship.Christina Nielsen did it this past weekend at Road Atlanta, where she and co-driver Alessandro Balzan captured the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar GT Daytona (GTD) title in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari.
The pair entered the season-ending Petite LeMans with a 32-point lead, and Nielsen, a 24-year-old from Denmark, clinched her share of the title when she completed her mandatory three-hour drive time.
Since IMSA’s birth in 1969, several women have competed in and won races in the series, and Melanie Snow won the abridged, five-race American Le Mans Series GT Challenge (GTC) title in 1969. Other women who have won North America road racing titles in lesser series than Nielsen’s include Amy Ruman in the SCCA Trans Am Series in 2015 and Margie Smith-Haas in the SCCA Pro American Cities Racing League in 1994.
Nielsen’s title is the first over a full season in a major series. The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and its four professional classes represent the premier form of sports car racing in North America.
One of two women who competed full-time in IMSA this year, along with DeltaWing Prototype driver Katherine Legge, Nielsen won two races this season: the historic Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in March and the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen in July