When Louise Smith (1916-2006) started racing cars, most girls weren’t even allowed to drive. From her first wild adventure behind the wheel of her daddy’s Ford to the dangers and thrills of stock-car tracks across the country, Louise fearlessly paved the way for women in racing and became a NASCAR legend. It takes a lot of courage to be the first, but when you fearlessly follow your dreams, anything is possible.
From author Barb Rosenstock and illustrator Scott Dawson, comes FEARLESS: The Story of Racing Legend Louise Smith, set to release October 14, a picture book aimed at children ages 5 and up, about the first woman stock car driver to be inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.
Louise went as a spectator to the her first NASCAR race at the Daytona Beach Road Course in 1949. She couldn’t stand watching the races, so she entered her family’s shiny new Ford coupe in the race. And rolled it. Her hometown Greenville, SC paper featured photos of the wreck, and the town knew about it before she got home.
When NASCAR’s founder, Bill France, went looking for a woman driver as a gimmick, he found Louise, a woman who was just crazy enough to drive with the men. Louise soon became a star, and her fans would turn out just to see what kind of wild stunt she’d pull off.
Smith rose in the ranks to become tied for the second woman to race in NASCAR at the top level. She was known as “the first lady of racing.”
Louise Smith raced from 1949 to 1956. She won 38 races in her career in numerous formats: late models, modifieds (28 victories), midgets, and sportsman.
Louise died in 2006, but her memory lives on—especially in the car racing community. NASCAR has become a phenomenon, enjoying more growth in the past ten years for both adult and child fans than any other sport in the world. There are an estimated 75 million regular NASCAR fans—and Louise’s story is a big part of their history.
FEARLESS is a colorful and exhilarating book that captures Louise’s plucky and courageous spirit and brings to life one of the true legends in sports for a whole new generation.