The sporting world is in the midst of a revolution – one long overdue.
Women athletes are dominating the news, from headlining UFC events to captivating the nation on the soccer pitch to breaking down barriers on tennis courts and inside hockey rinks. The racing world is no exception, and Amy Ruman is leading the charge.
History was made at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona, Florida on Saturday, Nov. 14 as Ruman became the first female racer to win Trans Am’s greatest prize, the Trigon Trophy. It was the culmination of many years behind the wheel, including nine in the Trans Am series.
“It’s obviously a dream come true,” Ruman said. “For me it came, I wouldn’t say quickly, over about 10 years. We’re definitely blessed to bring home the championship, finally,” Ruman said.
Ruman’s victory was no fluke, either. She dominated the competition all season, winning eight of 12 races. She never finished worse than 12th in any race, finishing in the top six in the other 11 contests. She won the final three races of the series to cruise to a championship.
“The season as a whole was amazing,” Ruman said. “We were definitely dominant. We had a very well prepared race car by my crew and my team. I couldn’t do it without them.”
Ruman is used to making a career out of firsts. She was the first woman to win a Trans Am race, taking home the checkered flag in the 2011 season finale at Road Atlanta. In 2014, she became the first woman to win a professional automobile race as a solo driver at Daytona International Speedway. Winning it all and becoming the first woman to win a season-long championship in a major U.S. racing circuit was simply the next logical step in an already glass-shattering career.
“Anytime you’re the first at anything it makes it that much more special,” Ruman said. “Being a female figure in auto sports, it’s certainly becoming more and more relevant.
“We’ve paved the way in the Trans Am series.”
Even in victory, Ruman shows humility.
“I view myself just like any other race car driver, but having the female aspect of it definitely makes it special.”
There is no escaping the bigger picture of Ruman’s victory. It’s a stepping stone for aspiring women racers — another barrier broken down.
Many sports keep the genders separated, but racing is not one of them. The best drivers, regardless of gender, compete against one another with skill being the only factor judged.
“That’s what great about racing as a sport, anyone can participate in it. Any age, any gender, anybody can get in and that’s what makes it a great equalizer,” Ruman said. “It’s not about who you are or what you are, it’s about being an athlete and a good driver.”
Like most athletes, Ruman remains focused on the road ahead, even in victory. One championship simply isn’t enough. Her mission is to return strong and validate this season’s championship with another one in 2016.
Back-to-back Trigon trophies is just another obstacle in the way of Amy Ruman. If the past is any indication, it won’t slow her down a bit.
Watch the final race of the season, in which Amy is victorious, on Sunday, Dec. 6 at 1 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network. Find out more about Amy at RumanRacing.com.