To say that National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) is a male driven enterprise is a huge understatement. Women drivers have made their presence successfully felt over the years, but as far as ownership goes, women are generally relegated to showing up as the wives of owners. Breaking that mold is the mother-daughter team of Mary Louise Miller and Stephanie Mullen, comprising the first confirmed NASCAR race team ever to be owned by a mother and daughter. ML Motorsports is the name of that history making duo, and they currently sponsor Nationwide Series rookie Johanna Long who drives their number 70 Foretravel Motorcoach sponsored Chevy Impala.
ML Motorsports made its debut in a NASCAR event at the Richmond International Raceway in 2006 with Justin Diercks driving and Foretravel sponsoring in a Busch/Nationwide Series race. They finished last after a wreck, after qualifying 28th in that inaugural race. Their best finish that first year was 28th at the Gateway International Raceway, with the Diercks/Foretravel combo running seven total races. That duo returned in 2007 for another seven races, earning two 24th place finishes for their best marks. ML Motorsports replaced Diercks with Mark Green, who ran 10 more races in 2007 and improved the team’s high finish to 19th.
2008 was a banner year for ML Motorsports, as they ran 21 races, qualifying as high as 19, and garnering their first top-five finish at the storied Talladega Superspeedway where Green finished in 5th place. 2009 saw ML Motorsports and Mark Green part company, with Shelby Howard continuing the race team’s annual improvement. Howard ran 17 times, finishing in the top 20 in seven of those races. 2010 saw a best finish of 12th happen twice in 21 races for Howard and ML Motorsports, and the year on year success of the team drew the attention of Jay Robinson Racing. That company partnered up with the now veteran mother and daughter race team owners, entering its number 49 car during races that ML Motorsports wasn’t entering, with all owners points going to ML Motorsports.
The relationship continued in 2011 with Dennis Setzer at the wheel in the JRR/ML races, and Howard was back again as driver, but was replaced by both David Stremme and Scott Wimmer on a rotating basis. Stremme managed ML’s best finish of the year at Richmond, where he finished 9th. 2012 saw the previously mentioned rookie Johanna Long become the team’s primary driver, and the #70 car is independently run in non-ML races by Robinson with Charles Lewandowski, Derrike Cope, and David Green sharing the driving duties.
Including this year, ML Motorsports has fielded a car and driver in 149 Nationwide races since 2006, but is still waiting to claim a victory. The team has managed one top-five and two top-tens, and has also led three laps over that period of time. With an average starting spot of 27.4 and average finish of 24.8, ML Motorsports is moving in the right direction, and this landmark mother-daughter team is poised to make a lot of positive noise on NASCAR race days in the future.