The first female driver in NASCAR history was Sarah Christian, who was there at the very start on July 19, 1949, at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Tied for second are Ethel Flock Mobley, who smoked two of her brothers at the Daytona Beach Road Course in 1949, and Louise Smith, who won 38 races in her seven-year career.
So, when today’s female NASCAR drivers head to the starting line, they aren’t representing some new wave of feminism — they’re just part of a long-standing NASCAR tradition.
Jennifer Jo Cobb is one such driver. Following in the footsteps of her father, and so many female drivers before her, Cobb is bringing a new flair to motorsports in the best way possible.
Who Is Jennifer Jo Cobb?
Jennifer Jo Cobb was born June 12, 1973 in Kansas City, Kansas. Her father, Joe Cobb, is a driver in the modified stock car division at local Lakeside Speedway, an unsanctioned 4/10 dirt track that hosts United States Racing Association (USRA) and International Motor Contest Association (IMCA) events. Jennifer Jo Cobb slid behind the wheel for her first race at Lakeside in 1991.
As they say, one thing led to another, and the rest is history. She took on the ARCA Series in the early 2000s, driving for Keith Murt. Cobb then made her first NASCAR start driving the No. 50 Vassarette Chevrolet for Keith Coleman Racing at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2004. Her Busch Series debut was a little rocky, thanks to a lap 2 crash, but a racer was born.
She spent the next several years mostly driving in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, establishing herself as a competent and competitive driver.
Taking It to the Truck Series
On July 19, 2008, she drove in a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at the Built Ford Tough 225. This kicked off a wave of impressive Truck Series finishes for The Annexus Group and Derrick Cope, Inc. It seemed Jennifer Jo Cobb had finally found her lane in racing, and in 2010, she announced she would be driving full time for the Camping World Truck Series.
She immediately went to work, purchasing the No. 10 truck team from Rick Crawford and finishing 17th on the points board, making her the highest female points finisher at the time in any of the three major NASCAR series.
2011 was a very busy year for Jennifer Jo Cobb, as she continued racing her No. 10 truck in the Camping World Truck Series in addition to driving the No. 79 for 2nd Chance Motorsports in the Nationwide Series.
Her sixth-place finish at the 2011 NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway would be the highest-place finish for a female driver until Natalie Decker broke this record in 2020.
This set the pace for the next several years, during which Cobb and the No. 10 Chevrolet Silverado would tear up tracks across the country, including over 200 starts in the Gander RV & Outdoor Series.
What is Jennifer Jo Cobb Currently Doing?
In 2011, she also established her own team: Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing — or JJCR, as it’s known. Based in Mooresville, North Carolina, the team focuses on Truck Series starts, though the team owner has been known to dabble in the Xfinity Series from time to time. JJC Racing teamed with the U.S. Army Family and MWR Command to create a program called “Driven2Honor,” in which female military service members and their guests could attend races.
Like every NASCAR driver, Cobb has not escaped controversy. On May 29, 2015, she was fined for approaching Tyler Reddick’s vehicle on foot at Dover International Speedway. NASCAR had just implemented a rule against this behavior, given Kevin Ward Jr.’s recent tragic death.
Later that year in Canada, she was fined for having a non-engine electrical component in her truck, when she was caught pulling a cell phone from her truck after a crash. Again, she was the first individual penalized for breaking this particular rule, which had been implemented in 2012.
However, with the past in the past, Jennifer Jo Cobb has been riding high. In 2020, she led 16 laps at Talladega Superspeedway, an impressive feat, given the NASCAR climate of 2020.
She hoped to make her NASCAR Cup Series debut in April 2021 at Talladega, as well, driving the No. 15 for Rick Ware Racing. Unfortunately, in a similar fate to that which befell James Davison and Keith McGee in 2020, NASCAR did not approve her entry. Due to lack of practice and qualifying runs, this would have been her first time in a Cup Series car.
Undaunted, it appears that Jennifer Jo Cobb is back on the track. While her 2021 performance remains to be seen, it stands to reason that she’s not going to let a few speed bumps stand in her way. After all, she’s part of a long standing NASCAR tradition!