Women in Motorsports - Jennifer Jo Cobb is ready to race
Jennifer Jo Cobb began racing in 1991, and despite some up-and-downs in her career she has proven to be a tough competitor in the world of auto racing. She has numerous victories, and finished in the top ten championship standings for every season she competed full-time in the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series.
In June 2002, Jennifer debuted in the ARCA RE/MAX Series at the Kansas Speedway, finishing 16th position. In just her second national race, she finished ninth on the lead lap.
She continued to do well in ARCA and other series, but in 2006 decided to divest her interests and start a clothing line specifically for female race fans called Driver Boutique.
Jennifer continues to hone her driving skills by testing at many tracks and working at the Richard Petty Driving Experience where she logs over 1,000 laps per weekend at many NASCAR-sanctioned racetracks, such as Daytona Int'l Speedway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway, California Speedway, Michigan International Speedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway and many others.
Off of the track, Jennifer is a business professional and has a decade of marketing and advertising experience. She holds an Associate’s degree in Pre-Journalism is currently working on her broadcasting degree. She has been a co-host for a television program on Time Warner Cable’s Metro Sports TV Channel called Inside Motorsports. In addition to appearing on the cover of the national racing magazine, Stock Car Spectacular, she has been featured on local and national radio programs and has headlined in newspapers across the country.
Jennifer's love of auto racing began with her father, Joe Cobb's, racing career. He has hundreds of victories and awards, including a track championship and most popular driver award.
Jennifer's future ambitions include competing full time in the NASCAR Busch Series, and eventually racing in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.
How did you get into auto racing?
I attended my first race when I was two weeks old. My dad was a crew member for my cousin. My dad started racing when I was three so I grew up in the sport. For the most part, I was a girly girl, but I loved being in the garage and would often fall asleep in my dad’s racing seat. I changed my first tire when I was 11 and I enjoyed learning to work on the cars at a young age.
What has been the biggest highlight of your career?
The biggest highlight of my career is the fact that I do not come from money, my dad is not a big national name and I am figuring out how to race in the big leagues the hard way! I raced for 10 years in the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series where the best highlight was almost winning the points championship at I-70 Speedway in 2000. My first ARCA race at the Kansas Speedway feels like a milestone in my career, where I finished 16th and of course, qualifying 28th out of 55 cars for my first NASCAR Busch race felt pretty cool. Right now, I just can’t wait to go out and reach another milestone (like a good Busch, er, Nationwide Series win!)
Racing plans for 2008?
Find sponsors, go racing… it’s hard to solidify a schedule without funding, but I believe I will be able to run some ARCA, Nationwide and maybe even some NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races. There is more momentum and sponsor interest this year than maybe any other year so I am hopeful! Providence Medical Center and Saint John Hospitals will sponsor me for the Kansas races and we will continue to try to solidify Major Primary sponsors for those and other events in 2008.
Tell AskPatty about your public speaking career?
When word got out on the street that I was a racecar driver, a lot of Kansas City companies, groups and schools asked me to come speak to them about my racing career. I would find myself racing Friday and Saturday nights and sharing the story with people throughout the week and they really got a kick out of what I was saying (at least they told me they did!) So, I had a friend tell me that I was going to have to start charging for these speaking appearances because I was getting so many requests. I visited with a speaking bureau, Five Star Speakers, who helped me put a value to my speeches and a new, parallel career was born! I have been speaking professionally for about seven years and I have had the pleasure of gaining new clients, nationwide, every year.
You've attempted to make several NASCAR Busch Series races -- is it hard to compete at that NASCAR level? What are the biggest disadvantages you face in racing in NASCAR?
My biggest disadvantage in NASCAR is that I do not have the national sponsors and resources of the teams I compete against. It is extremely competitive and very difficult… however, every time I attempt a NASCAR Busch Series race I get better, learn more and become more determined to break into the series as a top contender. I think a lot of people get up to that level, try it, find out how hard it really is and decide it may be smartest to drop down a level or two. That makes sense, but I am so determined to find a national sponsor and make it into this series that I will keep trying. I would race anything, anywhere, so I will continue to go where opportunities present themselves.
Was there added pressure trying to race Busch cars last season, because there were no other female drivers in either top series?
It actually made it a little easier sponsor sell – after Kansas we went into The Annexus Group and www.VisitMyrtleBeach.com and said, look, this sport is so tough but we want to have an opportunity to try in Phoenix and Miami. Other female drivers (myself included) have had opportunities and lost them and we just want to stay out there and give it a chance. There is no additional pressure being a woman, just additional criticism, which I can handle and I prepare my sponsors to expect.
Have you ever raced against your Dad, Joe Cobb? Who won?
I haven’t! That would be fun… my dad has raced both asphalt and dirt but is mainly a dirt racer. I have never raced dirt, so if we were to compete on dirt, I’m sure he’d win. If we were to compete on asphalt, I’d win but I’m sure he’d do his best to try to prevent that!