A group of bystanders lifted a car out of the way after the driver left it parked on a city centre tramline.
There was a "stand-off" between the Mini and a tram, dubbed #TramVSCooper on Twitter, which lasted for at least 20 minutes near Nottingham Trent University.
At one point there were two trams stuck behind the Mini but the driver did not return to her car despite loud beeping.
She was given a penalty charge notice when she eventually came back.
It is not known whether the woman knowingly parked in the way of the tram, or if she did not notice the tramlines.
She was heard telling a Community Protection Officer: "I'm not from Nottingham."
Journalism student Billy Taylor, who filmed what happened, said: "The car was parked half on the pavement and half on the tram lines, and the tram was unable to get past.
"There was a long stand-off. The tram was beeping its horn and no-one came to get the car."
He said the tram was stuck for between 20 and 25 minutes, from about 11:00 GMT on Thursday.
The tram operator said all of its services between the city centre and Phoenix Park and Hucknall were delayed for about 15 minutes.
Mr Taylor said: "It did cause quite a lot of disruption because the people on the tram weren't allowed to get off, because they weren't at the stop.
"There was another tram behind it as well, so there were two trams stuck at one point."
Some people said the woman came out of a coffee shop nearby.
"She seemed quite calm and collected considering the dozens of people that were outside and the fact she was holding up this big tram," said Mr Taylor.
"When she drove away everyone started cheering. I think she was very embarrassed."