Trophy girls are as much a part of auto racing as pace cars and pit crews. Trophy girls have been in victory lane as far back as auto racing itself. Once dressed in heavy garments and big feather hats the Trophy Girl has evolved with the times. As each generation became more liberated the dresses got shorter, the hair grew longer, and the chests got bigger. During the years when the big open-wheel race car was auto racing's only attraction, the girls were dressed more conservative and there wasn't much, if at all, "kissing the girl" in victory lane. As auto racing evolved so did the trophy girl. In the early 1940s, the country took a recess from racing to fuel World War II. The only pretty and scantily clad women the boys saw were on the noses of their fighters and bombers.
In post-war Hollywood the two-piece bikinis showed up more frequently, another bi-product of that G.I. generation hungry to freely "express" themselves. Young men returning from The War remembered the USO "Girl Friends" and the entertainment they would put on for the G.I.s. Names like Susan Hayward, Lana Turner, Janel Blair, Betty Hutton, Vivien Leigh, Dorothy Lamour, and Jane Wyman, a very curvy and busty woman that lit a young man's internal combustion. Many of these girls would become famous in Hollywood for their well endowed and curvy figures. Artists were painting portraits of semi nudes called "Calendar Girls", and soon young women in dresses above the knee were the fashion. Auto racing was in full swing during the post-war baby boomer years and so were the curvy and glamorous trophy girls.
The Fifties arrived and young American's were now more rambunctious as ever, wild and daring, they were chasing anything with 2 legs and racing anything with 4 wheels. Wide-eyed and hungry for fast woman and speed, these men were souping up hotrods, roadsters, dragsters, and stock cars and the trophy girls became more daring as well. There was more than a trophy to earn in victory lane, kissing the dirty face of the race winner was the normal ritual; kiss the girl and hoist the prize, that other prize, the trophy.
By the Nineteen Sixties the trophy girl's popularity grew, the same girl would be seen at multiple races at Indy and NASCAR. Being a Trophy Girl was a break into stardom for a select few. Many of these young starlets were more frequently required to kiss the greasy, grimy, and sweaty race winner in the winner's circle. Dirty drivers were lip-locking the Trophy Girl whether she liked it or not, it was a part of the victory circle celebrations. Yet, a select few, like Miss. Firebird and later Miss Hurst Golden Shifter Nob (see Linda Vaughn below) were now Sex Symbols, Goddesses of Racing, used more often as an accessory to speed equipment than trophies, not to be man-handled by some greasy driver, these girls were moneymakers.
The end of the '60s and early 1970's the Trophy Girl had changed, wore the bikini less, and dawned the hot pants and low cut blouse, a sign of the times. A few of these girls gained stardom like none of their predecessors before. Girls like Linda Vaughn and Jungle Pam Hardy became as big of Super Stars as the drivers themselves. In the racing news you'd read about the race, the drivers, and a mention of the groovy girl in a tight jumpsuit (see Miss Winston Cup Sonja Mathews below). In the Mid to late Nineteen Seventies the Trophy Girl could now be purchased on posters prints, seen in magazine promotional ads, and signing autographs for their fan base. With the high popularity of "Miss. Hurst" Linda Vaughn and "Jungle Pam Hardy" girls were being used in every capacity of promoting speed.
The Eighties was much of the same for the Trophy Girl, it seemed as though they had reached their pinnacle, there was little more that could be done to hype their image. The hairdos and the fashion changed but, the evolution of the Trophy Girl seemed to slow. With the onslaught of the Aids virus and other STD's kissing the race winner was no longer popular, the nostalgia had worn off (a handshake will do).
During the Nineteen Nineties, through the early Twenty-First century, the Trophy Girl popularity had taken a backseat to the driver, fans weren't as interested in seeing the girl as they were Dale Earnhardt or Jeff Gordon, the Trophy Girl was just another face in the crowd. The bikini had long ago disappeared, tight pants and large bosoms were not the rage, short skirts and cleavage were gone, it was mainly the "Cup Girl" or "Track Girl" with nice hair from some local village in a prom dress would do.
The local short track Trophy Girl has remained pretty consistent throughout the years, "Miss This or That" has always been a mainstay of the local speedway victory circle, usually a Beauty Queen contestant or some Head Honcho's daughter or wife...no kissing allowed!!!
Then, along came the Sprint Cup and a new generation of Trophy Girls emerged; Attractive and athletic, the girls were dressed down in racing firesuits, tailored to their slim, flatter, and less curvy figures, the girls look more like Danica Patrick clones than beauty queens of racing's past. Blonde, Brunette, and Redheads, they show up behind the driver, nodding their heads during post-race interviews, appearing to recognize someone in the crowd, give a big smile or a show of laughter, being sure to show off their pearly whites. Not as much to be desired as in the past since the race suit covers up most everything, the Trophy Girl has become more a pretty face than a busty bosom and curvy figure. Still, there they are, cheerful, energetic, happy for every winner. The Trophy Girl can still strike a pose in Victory Lane and is Photographer's dream.
Via: Jim Wilmore