Although not enough, there are actually more black women in automotive than you may think.
In celebration of Black History Month, we are paying tribute to 7 of these incredible women, both past and present. They have ALL positively impacted this male-dominated industry and are continuously paving the way for other women of color who are also interested in the automotive world.
Keep reading to check out a few of these s
African American Women in Automotive
1. Gladys Mae West
Born Gladys Mae West, in Dinwiddie County, Virginia (1930), attended Virginia State College, a historically black university on scholarship.
After graduating valedictorian in 1948, she was offered a job at a naval base in Dahlgren, Virginia, making her the second black woman to be hired to work as a programmer at the base.
During this time, she had no idea that her work would play a major role in creating the Geographical Positioning System, or GPS. This popular form of technology has changed the way the world travels and interacts daily.
Fact 1: In 2018, Glady was inducted into the US Air Force Hall of Fame.
Fact 2: The Geographical Positioning System is now incorporated into cars, cell phones, and social media.
2. Brehanna Daniels
During her senior year at Norfolk State University, a NASCAR recruiter approached Brehanna about joining their drive for diversity program to attract women to the sport. Although she had never even changed a tire before this, she decided to take them up on their offer. She is now one of the First Black Female NASCAR Tire Changer.
It goes to show that you can do anything you put your mind to!
Remember all those times you counted me out? Should’ve known I’d be someone…🤟🏾 – Brehanna Daniels
Fact: In 2006, Melanie Thomas was documented as the first black woman tire changer for NASCAR. Brehanna Daniels followed her path in 2016. Both women are true trailblazers and role models.
3. Tia Norfleet
Shauntia Latrice “Tia” Norfleet, daughter of NASCAR driver Bobby Norfleet, holds the title as the first African American female to be licensed by both NASCAR and ARCA, the Automobile Racing Club of America.
Due to her father’s influence, Tia was introduced to racing at a young age. Her father’s mentors, NASCAR champion Wendell Scott, Hall of Fame driver Alan Kulwicki, and entertainer Gladys Knight encouraged him to help Tia develop her interest in the sport.
Tia began competing on a local and regional level in go-kart racing. By the age of fourteen, she won 37 of 52 amateur races. She eventually moved on to late model stock car racing and later became the first African American to obtain a NASCAR late model series racing license.
“What I stand for is something way bigger than me.” -Tia Norfleet
4. Melissa Harville-Lebron
A mother of two race car drivers and the first African American woman to solely own a NASCAR-licensed team, had no idea that her entrepreneurial journey would one day lead her to making history in the racing world.
One minute she is trying to deter her sons from taking up such a dangerous sport, then eventually investing her own money into the development of her team, called E2 Northeast Motorsports.
Fun Fact 1: E2 Northeast Motorsports, which falls under the umbrella of W.M. Stone Enterprises, Inc.
This team consists of four drivers. Two of which are her sons and the other two are Latino brothers (two drivers are in the camping world truck series and two are in the NASCAR’s Whelen All-American Series).
Fun Fact 2: E2 Northeast Motorsports is the first multicultural team to race competitively in NASCAR.
5. Dr. Jennifer Satterfield-Siegel
Dr. Jennifer Satterfield-Siegel is another African American woman making noise in the Automotive Industry.
This brilliant black woman wears many hats. She is…
- A Board-Certified Pediatric Dentist
- The first African American woman to co-own a NASCAR team, Rev Racing with her husband Max Siegel
- Rev Racing has trained drivers and pit crew members to prepare them for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Xfinity Series and Monster Energy Cup Series since 2010
- She is part of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Program
- She is a former recipient of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity Industry Ambassador Award.
- Dr. Satterfield-Siegel also recently became a NASCAR Foundation board member
It’s the accolades for me!
“I am a huge NASCAR fan and participate in the sport on many levels,” stated Satterfield-Siegel. “Working with The NASCAR Foundation feels like a natural fit as I continue working to impact the lives of our nation’s youth.” – Dr. Jennifer Satterfield-Siegel
6. Madam CJ Walker
Madam C.J. Walker was born Sarah Breedlove on December 23, 1867, in Delta, Louisiana.
Although she is recognized for being America’s first African American female millionaire, she was also a true auto enthusiast!
In 1913 while her hair care empire was booming, she broke another barrier and purchased three automobiles: a Ford Model T, a Waverly Electric and a luxury, seven-passenger Cole Touring Car. You might be thinking that that’s no big deal for a millionaire, but the key is that during this time fewer than 10 percent of licensed drivers were women.
“If I have accomplished anything in life it is because I have been willing to work hard.” – Madam C.J. Walker
7. Patrice Banks
Patrice is such an inspiration! She was a material science engineer who turned mechanic and founded the Girls Auto Clinic in 2016, a Pennsylvania-based repair center staffed by and focusing on women.
“When I learned how to work on cars I realized ‘wow this stuff isn’t hard!!’ Women don’t know that because there’s nobody speaking like them. The industry is run by men.” – Patrice Banks
Fun Fact: In 2017, she published Girls Auto Clinic Glove Box Guide, which covers the basics of auto repairs, maintenance, and emergencies.
All of these African American women in automotive are true inspirations. What women in the auto space would you like to see honored? Inquiring minds would love to know.
Have A Happy Healthy, and Remember to Always…