Busch Light to pave the way for female talent in NASCAR via "Accelerate Her" sponsorship program
Busch Light's "Accelerate Her" sponsorship program is set to pave the way for women drivers at the highest levels of NASCAR racing, by providing funding, track time and training to all eligible women.
Anheuser-Busch is launching a new initiative via its Busch Light brand, aimed at promoting female racing drivers in the NASCAR scene: with a $10 million sponsorship, the Busch Light "Accelerate Her" program will provide funding for a 3-year commitment to all eligible women on the NASCAR ladder. The Accelerate Her campaign represents the first program of this kind in American motorsport and is the biggest push to date to actively develop successful female racers up to the top classes of NASCAR. It will in fact not only involve sponsorship fees, but will include track time, media exposure and training - making it more similar to the Driver Academies that are dominating the scene in Formula 1. Busch, an iconic sponsor and one of the three main NASCAR partners, announced it will redirect 25% of its total sponsorship budget solely to support women drivers and related marketing activities. "Numbers are everything in NASCAR '' – says the video presentation for the Accelerate Her campaign. "Right now there's one number that stands out: zero", pointing to the fact that there is currently no female driver at the highest level of NASCAR. The last woman to race at Cup level was in fact Danica Patrick, who retired after the 2018 Daytona 500 and had her last full-season in 2017. “Busch Light has been an iconic sponsor in NASCAR for decades and we’ve been lucky to witness some of the greatest women drivers in history, but it can’t be argued that the NASCAR Cups Series field is dominated by male drivers,” said Krystyn Stowe, Senior Brand Director, Busch Family of Brands at Anheuser-Busch. “Through our sponsorship rights and our platform, we’re seizing the opportunity to make historic progress toward gender inclusivity and while the immediate program goals may start here, we hope the sentiment will carry far beyond that, encouraging the broadest level of inclusivity across all sports.” Despite an increasing number of talented women climbing the ranks, what they have historically struggled the most remained funding, technical support and track time compared to the drivers that would eventually get the best opportunities. This is a first and crucial step in the right direction. The inaugural recipients of the sponsorship are Toni Breidinger, Natalie Decker, Amber Balcaen, Jennifer Jo Cobb, Brittney Zamora, Stephanie Moyer and Melissa Fifield. Breidinger made headlines after becoming the first Arab-American woman in a NASCAR-sanctioned event; she raced in ARCA Menards Series and scored two top-10 finishes in 2021. Breidinger is expected to run the full-ARCA season in 2022. Canadian Amber Balcaen is also gearing up for the ARCA season and has raced in a wide variety of series and vehicles, including Super Late Models and Midget racing. She entered three races in the ARCA Menards Series West championship last year. Natalie Decker rose to international attention in 2018, when she won pole position at the ARCA season opener at Daytona. She had a strong season and finished 7th in the standings; then stepped up to part-time campaigns in the NASCAR Truck Series, where she became the first woman to finish in the top-five. In 2021, she started five rounds of the Xfinity Series – alongside a few starts in sports cars. NASCAR veteran Jennifer Jo Cobb has entered at least one round in either Xfinity or Truck Series since 2004. The driver-owner of the JJCRacing truck was sixth at Daytona in 2011 - a record that would only be broken by Decker a few years later. Brittney Zamora made history last year when she took victory in the Pro Late Model Division at Nashville Fairgrounds. At 22, she became the first woman to win at such a historic venue. Another young talent who left her mark in her first ARCA appearances in 2021 is Stephanie Moyer. The 23-year-old had two top-10 finishes to her name in her first two races and is expected to kick-off her ARCA Series East campaign later this week.
“Super excited to be partnering up with Anheuser-Busch and Busch racing team" – Stephanie told us. "I am hoping to put on a good show throughout my part time season!”
A second generation racer, Moyer has earned victories and titles on her local track before moving on to bigger cars and series, where she is now confident to carry momentum. Melissa Fifield is a regular on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, where she races for her family-owned team since 2014. As one of the few sports where genders do compete on equal terms, it is certainly a daily effort to address the systemic imbalance that still make motor racing a largely-men dominated field and initiatives like Busch Light's Accelerate Her are a major and immediate opportunity to advance diversity and change the status quo. Part of the budget is expected to be reserved for up and coming female talents that do not fit the age requirements yet. Not included in the initiative is for example Hailie Deegan, 20. Other notable names are Gracie Trotter (20) Bridget Burgess (20) and Mariah Boudrieau (20). The initiative received acclaim from several athletes also overseas; among them, German racing star Sophia Floersch tweeted her support for the program.
"Accelerate Her" will be officially announced at the 64th running of the Daytona 500 next weekend.