MEET JULIA LANDAUER: A NEW ROLE MODEL IN NASCAR

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Growing up in New York City, her parents encouraged her to play against the boys in order to be tough.

Fast-forward two decades and that’s exactly what Julia Landauer is doing with her racing career booming and off-track accolades, including a recent Forbes feature, helping to form her growing brand.

Coming off a fourth-place finish in the standings in NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series West, Landauer, who got her start in go-kart racing, is coming back for more in 2017 with a new team, crew chief and car as well as a fresh set of goals.

“We’re going for the championship,” the NASCAR Next product said of her ’17 crew — Bob Bruncati’s Sunrise Ford team. “We’re really excited to try to win races and hopefully make some more history.”

And with seasoned crew chief Bill Sedgwick heading the No. 6 team, Landauer could be on track for a record year.

“She’s probably one of the best female drivers I’ve seen in awhile,” Sedgwick, who owns two K&N Pro Series West titles (1991, ’92) and is a championship-winning crew chief, told NASCAR.com.

“She handles herself really well on the race track. … She’s very competitive, she’s always looking to whatever she’s doing to be better and I think that’s a good goal to have.”

Wins are the likely next step for Landauer, 25, who in her rookie year posted the highest finish for a female driver in the 62-year history of the series. She scored 13 top 10s in just 14 starts — an 11th-place finish at Sonoma being the sole outlier.

While her racing achievements have helped her stay relevant on the race track, Landauer’s off-track endeavors are helping cement her staying power in the sport.

“I learned early on to be a superstar in NASCAR I was going to be able to share my story with the fans and to have that really resonate with them and have them support me,” she said. “And so really I’ve tried to be very vulnerable in who I am and really play up the fact that I love education and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). … I’ve been very conscious of the steps I’ve taken and the associations I’ve had, to make sure they really fit what I consider my brand to be and what I want my fans to see.”

The Stanford University graduate’s “brand” became more recognizable in January after becoming an honoree for the Forbes “30 Under 30” list in sports — she also was a contestant on reality TV show “Survivor” in 2013.

“We selected Julia for the Forbes “30 Under 30″ list, not only for her remarkable success behind the wheel, but also for what she’s done to promote women in sports,” Forbes reporter Christopher Smith said.

Forbes honored Landauer for, yes, her uniqueness but also for what she has done for the sport as a whole.

“I don’t think there are many race car drivers who have made that (list) in general,” Landauer said. “So to be able to represent the sport of racing and NASCAR by being so different and being from New York City and having gone to college, it’s just really cool and really great to see that it’s motivating for people and inspiring.”

Thus, her dream of becoming “a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion” is off to a good start with her starpower growing at a fast rate.

Looks like she’s pretty fortunate her parents encouraged her all those years ago in New York City.

Read the original article here.

Who’s NEXT?

CHARLOTTE — The first thing to remember is: No one saw this coming. Not THIS. Stock-car racing certainly had a passionate following in America, but it was also a concentrated following. As late as 1992, the NASCAR Winston Cup Series had 29 races. Twenty of them were south of the Mason-Dixon line. Stock car racin’ was a southern thing, like sweet tea and restaurant menus where mac and cheese is listed as a vegetable.

Sure, there was ambition to grow. In the 1980s, the series expanded west to Phoenix, brought racing back to Watkins Glen in New York (State, not City — it’s 260 miles from Manhattan) and so on. The Daytona 500 had made its way onto the American sports calendar, finding its place alongside the Kentucky Derby and Indianapolis 500. Ronald Reagan proved to be a fan as President, and he was there at the Firecracker 400 in 1984 for Richard Petty’s 200th and final victory.

In 1990, Tom Cruise — the biggest movie star in the world at the time — starred in a huge-budget movie about NASCAR, “Days of Thunder.” The movie more or less tanked (though Quentin Tarantino has called it a personal favorite), but even a Tom Cruise bomb reaches a lot of people.

So, yes, NASCAR was doing pretty well, entertaining its most intense audience, growing that audience slowly but surely. There was a sense among many inside NASCAR that the sport — loud, dangerous, intense — could play in other parts of the country. But everyone was realistic about NASCAR’s place in the big American sports landscape. In 1993, the sport added a race in New Hampshire. A year later, it added one in Indianapolis. Slow but sure.

And then … the whole thing just took off in a blindingly fast way that no one saw coming.

Multitudes of books have been written about the many reasons NASCAR exploded in popularity, though the most compelling of those reasons for me has always been one name: Jeff Gordon. He was the chemical that sparked the reaction. It would be hard to recreate now the impact Gordon had in the NASCAR world — it was overwhelming. He was this average-looking guy from California and Indiana, clean cut with a bit of a squeak in his voice, the sort of person you might talk with about getting an umbrella policy on your home. He liked hip-hop rather than country music and seemed more interested in going to New York than going hunting or fishing.

Only, he drove a car like the devil himself.

That blew people’s minds. The sport already had its archetypal hero, Dale Earnhardt, a North Carolina boy whose roots in racing trailed back to the very beginning, to his father Ralph, who worked in a cotton mill during the week and raced on the dirt on weekends. Ralph died of a heart attack in his garage, working on his car, and Dale Sr. raced with that same sensibility. He would run you off the track if you got in his way — or even if you didn’t and he was just in an ornery mood.

Now, here was the kid, no Southern racing roots, no Southern core, driving around in a Dupont car that looked liked a RAINBOW, for crying out loud. But the kid kept winning races and championships. He held his own with the Intimidator (Dale Sr.’s well-earned nickname) himself. And then he was hosting Saturday Night Live. It was all irresistible.

And it was unexpected. The sport grew so fast, it was hard to keep up. New tracks were built all over America — Texas, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Chicago, Miami. New stars kept emerging — the fierce Tony Stewart, the All-American kid Jimmie Johnson, the son Dale Earnhardt Jr. And the television ratings kept going up, attendance kept going up, businesses lined up to be a part of the phenomenon; it was all NASCAR could do just to keep up with the demand, the excitement, the wonder of it all.

“My perception,” says Jill Gregory, the Chief Marketing Officer at NASCAR, “is that nobody was looking for that to happen. But when it did happen, it was like, ‘Wow. We needed this.’”

Here we are now, some 20 or 25 years into the NASCAR explosion, and it’s an interesting time for the sport. Jeff Gordon has retired and Tony Stewart is about to follow him. Dale Jr. intends to compete again, but he has not raced since July because of concussion symptoms, and at 42 years old, realistically, he is not likely to race much longer. Jimmie Johnson seems to be back on top of his game, but he’s 41 and has admitted that the grueling NASCAR schedule becomes tougher the older he gets. Kevin Harvick, the 2014 champion, turns 41 in December.

Yes, of course, there are some drivers ready to take their place. Some veteran drivers like former champions Brad Keselowski (age 32) and Kyle Busch (31) are still in the primes of their careers. Younger drivers like Joey Logano and Austin Dillon, both 26, along with 24-year-old Kyle Larson, are showing signs of coming into their own.

Chase Elliott — who many see as the sport’s future champion — made the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup as a rookie this year.

But, NASCAR is in a lull. Ratings are stagnant. Attendance is down. There are as many reasons for this as there were for stock car racing’s explosion in the first place, and you can bet that people in NASCAR are at this very moment working on every single one of them. NASCAR’s like that. And one thing that everyone in and around the sport is looking for is the next big star, the driver who, like Gordon, can again capture the attention and imagination of everyone.

“The Jeff Gordon-Dale Sr. interaction and rivalry … we were in position to benefit from that,” Gregory says. She smiles and shrugs. “You can’t always rely on that.”

* * *

Alon Day is from Israel. He’s 24. He hopes to become a NASCAR driver.

“First of all,” Alon Day is saying, “there is absolutely no motorsports here. At all. We have only go karts. This is the only thing you have. It makes me laugh. We have only desert and some camels and go karts.”

Day is part of a program called “NASCAR Next” which, as the name suggests, is a company-wide effort to identify and develop future stars of the sport.

“When I was 17,” he says, “I won the Asian (Formula Renault Challenge). It was a pretty big deal for a guy from Israel to win an international championship. Everyone knew who I was here. We don’t get a lot of sports here. If someone has success, everybody in Israel knows about it. Basketball is one of the only sports we’re good at, you know, along with wars and weapons.

“So when I went into the army — you know everyone here must go to the army — I was able to enter the athlete program. So I didn’t have to live on the base. I had the privilege to go home, train in the gym, work in simulators. Every day I would go to the base, go from 8-5, then go home and train.”

“How many people were in the racing program in the Israeli army?” I ask him.

“Only me,” he says. “Now, I think there are two or three. I put racing on the map.”

NASCAR is on the lookout for young drivers with talent, of course, but they also are looking for drivers with a story, with a spark, with an ability to reach both fans and businesses. That’s the thing about NASCAR. It isn’t enough to just drive fast.

“Wait, let me tell you how I got into NASCAR,” Day says. “I was into endurance driving. In 2015, in March, I had some sponsor issues and stuff. I thought about taking a year break. I really thought about it. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, I get an email to take a test in the NASCAR Euro Series.

“Without racing, I felt like I was going to die. It was the lowest point of my career. So, yeah, of course I jumped at the opportunity. And it went perfect. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. I had never driven a stock car before, but it’s like I was born to be in one. I was vice champion in the Euro Series. I won three times. I was rookie of the year. I was the most popular driver. It was a dream.”

Now, he wants more. He was given a chance to drive in the XFINITY Series this year — sort of the Triple-A of NASCAR — and finished 13th at Mid-Ohio in his debut race. He’s looking for sponsors, hoping to get a full-time ride in the Trucks Series or XFINITY and and work his way into the big time. He’s exuberant and funny and Israeli; he certainly would be unlike anyone to ever drive in NASCAR.

“We know we have a very strong core fan base base, and they’re very invested in all of our national series on a weekly basis,” Gregory says. “But we also know that if we want to continue to grow, we have to grow that fan bases. We have to get younger. We have to get more diverse.”

“I see myself as diversity!” Day says. “I mean, come on. You have this very cool, diverse guy from Israel. You have the American-Israeli relationship. It’s very cool, right?”

* * *

NASCAR’s search for the next star is a fascinating one because, on one level, it sounds very much like the scouting and development that is done in every sport. But it’s also very different.

In baseball, let’s say you want to develop a left-handed reliever. Coaches will work with him (or her — the day’s coming) on delivery, various pitches, positioning, holding runners on, the mental approach to facing hitters, etc. It would be a baseball development with perhaps a few side lessons about how to act in public and cliches to give to the media.

In NASCAR, it’s a different journey. To become a Sprint Cup driver means being a world-class driver with supernatural hand-eye coordination, intense nerve and a near-magical sense of your surroundings. That’s first and foremost. But it isn’t enough.

No, to make it to the top also means being a conduit for your sponsors (who are spending millions on your racing career), a promoter of the sport in the press and a relatable icon to your fans. The NASCAR Next program, for instance, doesn’t spend much time at all on the track. Instead they try to help potential stars, like Day, develop their stories, help them meet potential sponsors, give them some media training and talk to them about their social media plan.

“I think that in any research we’ve done — core fan, casual fan, sports fan that might not be that interested in motorsports — performance is No. 1,” Gregory says. “You’ve got to be able to drive the race car and be competitive. After that, though, it’s a whole variety of things. What we’re doing is trying to find as much talent as we can and then pull out what some of their skill sets might be off the track. Then figure out how to showcase that.”

There are many people, of course, who think that NASCAR spends way too much time worrying about stuff off the track. Take Humpy Wheeler, one of the greatest promoters in the history of NASCAR and one of the all-time great guys. Humpy recently wrote a letter to The Charlotte Observer about the challenges within NASCAR, and it included this passage:

“The American sporting public lives on a diet of big things whether it is a 350-pound NFL lineman or a 3,400-pound stock car, high drama, exciting personalities, sudden excitement and simplicity. Unfortunately, because of the standards of the sponsors, we are missing a lot of fine drivers who run on the rough and tumble short tracks in the rural areas because they have bad teeth, talk wrong, don’t know how to hold a fork and their dress of the day is a pair of well-worn jeans and a battered T-shirt and don’t forget their tattoos.”

This, unquestionably, taps into one of the big complaints about NASCAR — that it has too eagerly moved away from its moonshine roots. There are many, many fans who like NASCAR as it was, as a Southern sport, as the sport of Richard Petty and Junior Johnson and the Allison brothers and Bill Elliott and the rest.

But that might miss the bigger point: NASCAR is more than its moonshine roots now. It was a wildly-popular-but-still-niche sport then. It is a multi-billion industry now, and it is nationwide. There is room, there must be room, for the rough-and-tumble short track driver but to persuade Fortune 500 companies to invest, to keep the interest among the fans not only at the World’s Fastest Half-Mile in Bristol, Tenn., but also along the Miracle Mile in Vegas and the Magnificent Mile in Chicago, there needs to be room for groundbreakers.

Meet Julia Landauer.

* * *

If you think Alon Day has a weird NASCAR story, how about Landauer? She grew up in New York’s Upper West Side. She is the daughter of a doctor and a lawyer. You’re picturing it, right? She went to prestigious Stuyvesant High School, whose alumni have won four Nobel prizes, two Wolf Awards for mathematics, one Fields Medal and three Academy Awards. It is the school of Mets president Saul Katz, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and Falcons owner Arthur Blank.

After that, Landauer went to Stanford, where she got a degree in Science, Technology and Society. There’s no real point or room to list off all the famous Stanford graduates but Google developers Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer, etc. are among them.

While there, she appeared on “Survivor.”

And she did all of this — all of it — with one dream in mind. Right. She wants to be a NASCAR driver.

“Yeah, it’s different,” she says. “I went go karting and just fell in love with it.”

In many ways, Landauer is the evolution of the new NASCAR. For one, NASCAR is the only major American sport where a woman — specifically, Danica Patrick — competes at the highest level directly against men. Her dream would be very different in any other sport.

But, even more, Landauer has trained to become a NASCAR driver not only by honing her driving skills but by developing her brand, by working on her writing and communication skills, by broadening and refining her story and her reach. Her website is subtitled, “Redfining the Modern Racer.” She speaks nationally. She actively seeks being a role model, especially to young girls. She works on her camera skills.

“And,” she adds, “I’m not afraid to knock on doors and start the conversation. I have a very clear sense of my messaging, my persona, my brand. I directly tie to New York City. I have the whole Silicon Valley connection with my tech degree. There are a lot of cool angles. Oh, and, yeah, I’m a woman too, and I want to become the first woman to win a race in one of NASCAR’s top three series. A lot of angles.”

You can imagine that there are a lot of old school NASCAR fans who are tearing at their hair, thinking about how this is exactly what drives them crazy about the sport and shouting, “CAN SHE DRIVE A CAR OR NOT?”

Well, a lot of people around racing say yes. She finished fourth in points as rookie in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, one of the sport’s feeder series (“highest finishing female in history!” she writes on her website). In 2015, she was the first woman to win a NASCAR track championship in the Limited Late Model division at Motor Mile Speedway. Her confidence overflows.

“I don’t have as much experience yet as some of my competitors,” she says. “But as far as being in the car and driving, no, I don’t have any doubts about my talent.”

Landauer may or may not make it; there are only a few opportunities at the very top of the NASCAR pyramid and many, many drivers who are trying to get in. But it’s clear: The explosion of NASCAR opened things up not only to a much larger audience of fans, it opened up possibilities to a whole new kind of driver. Used to be you got to NASCAR driving on the dirt and hoping to be discovered. Now, it’s different.

Of course, there is a balance for NASCAR, a tough balance, keeping the old-school fans engaged and passionate about the sport while finding and welcoming new fans, getting younger and more diverse but connecting to the past and the NASCAR base. It’s not easy.

Well, no one really saw any of this coming 25 years ago.

“We just want more and more people to connect to NASCAR,” Gregory says. “The more Danicas or Julias we have, the more young girls will connect to our sport and NASCAR driving as a possibility for them. The more Danny Suarezes (a Mexican driver who is performing well in the Xfinity Series), the more young people from Mexico — or from America with a Mexican heritage — will connect to our sport.

“And of course we need to keep developing drivers who appeal to our core audience. The journey never ends. We have to keep opening more eyes to the excitement of our sport.”

Julia Landauer tells her coach ‘the saddest breakup I’ve ever had was with you’

What do you do when you want to thank that one coach who never gave up on you? You know, the one who taught you everything you know about sports, who trained you to win, showed you how to lose gracefully and turned you into the athlete you are today?

You write them a tear-jerking, heartfelt letter—and then you read it aloud and post it on Excelle Sports on Nov. 4, National Coach Appreciation Day.

Here, in honor of National Coach Appreciation Day, Excelle Athlete Ambassador Julia Landauer—the first female NASCAR track champion in her division—reads out loud a letter to her coach Glenn Butler. In the letter, Landauer thanks him for his unique advice, especially the two things he told her that helped to shape her into the name-taking, wheel-kicking, stereotype-defying, multiple-time championship race car driver she is today.

[More from Excelle Sports: Julia Landauer revs up her NASCAR schedule]

Watch the video and read her letter below.

Dear Glenn,

How do you adequately thank the person who took a risk on you when no one else wanted to? As we both remember, my 12-year-old self with pigtails couldn’t get a go-kart team to bring me on, despite my championship win the previous year. But you stepped up. You saw my drive, my parents’ support and you were a core part of building our team.

And what a team we built! We made history every year, showing the boys that this petite girl could kick their butts and grow together. We became a family and you’re one of the few people who personally knows the struggle, work and success that has gone into my racing career.

I learned so much from you, but there were two lessons that really stuck out:

1. “Your behavior on the track would put you in jail in real life.” Do you remember when you told me this? It was at Daytona when I was 14. What started as a terrible weekend when we went from top of the charts in practice to mid-pack in qualifying, ended in four podiums. And you worked with my dad to light the fire inside of me to get my aggression out.

2. “Walk through the pits like you know you’re the best.” I think this was also at Daytona, when you told me to stop slouching and notice that our competitors were staring at us as we walked through the pits. “They’re scared of you,” you said. “So walk like you know that you love it.” You helped me realize and develop my confidence. You weren’t shy about calling me out on not owning how good I was. And I remember how much you loved scaring the competition, which taught me to love it too.

This set the stage for our wildly successful years together.

Glenn, the saddest breakup I’ve ever had was with you. Realizing that we wouldn’t be able to work together once I moved into cars was tough to accept. I understand why and I recognized that it was necessary and best for both of us, but man, our relationship was irreplaceable.

Thank you for all your hard work, dedication, loyalty, love and absolute kick-ass coaching. Thank you for seeing my potential and for helping me thrive. Thank you for putting preconceived notions of female racers aside and for treating me like the champion that you knew I could be.

Love,
Julia

And That’s A History-Making Wrap!

Well friends, the 2016 season has come to an end. We rounded out the season with an intense battle that resulted in a 3rd place finish, moving me up to 4th in points for the final championship standings! That makes me the highest finishing female in K&N Pro Series (East and West) championship history! 

I highly recommend you check out the Napa Autoparts 150 race on TV, which will air on NBCSN on Thursday, Oct. 20, at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT.

And now for a little reflection:

At the beginning of this season we set out to finish every race, run consistently in the top-5, get some podiums, hopefully get a win, and finish in the top-5 in points standings…over the course of the 14-race season, I earned 2 podiums, 7 top-5 finishes, and 13 top-10 finishes. I think I speak for my entire team when I say that we are extremely proud of what we accomplished! Despite not getting a win, we made it very clear to my competitors and to NASCAR that I am a force. 

I, along with my team, grew a tremendous amount this season. We all learned how to elevate our game, put our heads down and persevere, and motivate each other to make the team thrive. It certainly wasn’t easy, but we hit our stride and all wished we had a few more races to prove we could win. I’m really proud and this has been an incredible ride.

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2016 wouldn’t have come together without the tremendous support and work from a ton of people and teams, who deserve a round of applause:

– Huge thanks to Bill McAnally Racing, including Bill, my #54 team of Mario, Eric, Jake, Mike, Kevin, Rick, Kim, Germane, and many others.

– Thank you to our partners, Toyota Racing, Curb Records, Napa Filters, and The Movemeant Foundation for having the vision to make the season happen and keep it going.

– I wouldn’t have been able to put all the pieces together and keep them straight without Wilder, Chris, Nate, and Steve at Julia Landauer Racing. Thank you so much for your years of dedication.

– A very warm and appreciative shout out to my parents, Emma, Aidan, and Vince for your constant support, advice, love, and encouragement. To Lyn, Devanshi, Rayna, Emma, Robert, Michele, and David for always being there for me and for giving excellent advice.

– To Simpson Race Products and Butler Built Seats, for supplying me with the gear and equipment I needed to be safe and go fast.

– I’ve had the honor of working and brainstorming with great folks at NASCAR and in the NASCAR Next program to advance my career. I can’t thank you enough for all of the time and tools you have provided.

– THANK YOU to each and every one of you who has supported me, sent me wonderful notes, suggested ideas for improvement, gave me likes on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram, voted me Most Popular Driver (keep those votes coming in daily!), and believed in me.

It means so much to have such a great #TeamJulia and I can’t wait to see what we can do next year!

xoxo,
Julia

Late Model Race Recap: Julia Leads All Laps But Two Laps, Finishes 2nd

Charlotte, NC – (August 22, 2016) Julia Landauer switched her ride up this past weekend, racing in the Pick Your Parts Late Model race at Irwindale Speedway, competing for High Point Racing/Kevin Bowles. After qualifying 9th, an invert of the field’s qualifying order put Landauer on the front row for the start of the race, where she took the lead for 48 laps until her sway bar mount broke and her right front tire started going flat. Landauer held on to finish 2nd.

“This was such a fun race!” Landauer said afterwards. “We set the fastest lap of the race and gapped the field by about half a straight away, and it felt great to be up front again!”

With about 5 laps to go, Landauer’s car started sparking through the corners, indicating that the chassis was hitting the track. Her times slowed dramatically as she had much less control of her steering, but she was able to hold on to finish 2nd.

“After such a dominating performance it’s kind of a bummer to lose the win, but there’s not much that anyone can do about a tire going flat. Huge thanks to Kevin Bowles and the guys who helped out, Tim Huddleston and Bill McAnally for giving me the opportunity, and Toyota Racing.”

“This is great momentum going into our next K&N race next weekend!” Landauer noted. 

Landauer’s next race will be in the K&N Pro Series West at Douglas County Speedway on Saturday, August 27, 2016. 

The broadcast for the last K&N race from Evergreen Speedway will be on Thursday, August 25, 2016 at 8 pm ET on NBCSN.

Race 8 Recap: After Engine Failure, Landauer Fights Forward

Charlotte, NC – (July 31, 2016) Iowa Speedway, a banked, 7/8-mile oval race track in Newton, Iowa, hosted the NASCAR K&N Series for their annual All-Star race on Friday, July 29, 2016. The All-Star race brought together the East Series and the West Series at the NASCAR facility, attracting a total of 33 cars for the race.

Julia Landauer had a tough night, having to start at the back of the field due to an engine change after qualifying. She worked her way up to 17th overall, 8th in the West division.

After completing the first practice session, Landauer’s first time on a track this big and fast, Landauer and her team made adjustments for the second practice. Unfortunately, the second practice was cut short due to rain, so the team had to do their best at setting up the car for qualifying.

However, they never got to test those adjustments.

“I went out for my qualifying and right after I left the pits my motor started slowing,” Landauer said. “I didn’t have oil pressure so I shut the car down right away and came into the pits.”

iowa-speedway-2

The #54 Curb Records Toyota crew discovered that the fuel pump belt fell off, so they decided to replace the motor to be safe. The lack of qualifying time along with the engine change forced Landauer to start at the back of the 33-car field.

Other members of the Bill McAnally Racing team helped the #54 crew swap engines, just in time for the start of the race.

At the drop of the green flag, Landauer charged hard and continued to work her way through the field until the halfway break. During the break, teams refueled the cars, changed tires, and made adjustments.

After the restart of the race, Landauer passed several more cars, and eventually settled for 17th spot at the conclusion of the 150 lap race.

“It was a hard night for us, but we got the car back running and I did my best during the race,” stated Landauer. “We had a lot of long green flag runs, so the field got spaced out a bit. A few more caution flags to bunch of the field and help me stay caught up would have helped. We did the best we could.”

Landauer remains 6th in points after Iowa Speedway, which will air on NBCSN on Friday, August 5 at 2 pm ET.

The next race for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West will be at Evergreen Speedway, in Monroe, WA, on Saturday, August 13.

Race 7 Recap: Landauer Survives Short Track for Top-5 Finish

Charlotte, NC – (July 11, 2016) Julia Landauer has had her best K&N results to date on the short tracks (.25 – .4 miles) that the NASCAR K&N West series visits and the night of Saturday, July 9, 2016 continued the streak. After qualifying 9th at State Line Speedway in Post Falls, ID, Julia survived the carnage to get her third top-5 finish of the season, with a 5th place.

“I’m so glad I was able to keep my #54 Curb Records Toyota Camry for Bill McAnally Racing in one piece and bring home another top-5!” Landauer said after the race. “There were quite a few close calls when I wasn’t sure I’d get through other drivers’ spins and wrecks, but my reaction speed plus having my spotter Eric Holmes was extremely beneficial,” Landauer continued.

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The race was eventful, including oil spills that caused a red flag for clean up at lap 67, multiple crashes throughout the field, and two attempts at a green-white-checkered finish before finally completing the race on lap 166. The original race distance was set at 150 laps. (In order to have the race finish under green flag race conditions, NASCAR will extend the race and give racers three attempts at getting the green flag, followed by the white [one-to-go] flag, followed by the checkered).

“There was a lot of beating and banging during that race. We had quite a bit of damage on the car because of how rough the racing was, but it looks like it’s all body work, nothing on the chassis,” Landauer said.

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Saturday night’s race marked the 7th race out of 14 for the 2016 season. Landauer remains in 6th position in the championship points, 5 points out of 5th. She is 2nd in the rookie championship.

The Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts 150 from State Line Speedway will air on NBCSN on Friday, July 15 at 2 pm ET/11 am PT.

Iowa Speedway is the next stop on the NASCAR K&N West Series calendar, taking place on Friday, July 29, 2016.

Race 6 Recap: Hard-Fought Road Course Race

Charlotte, NC – (June 27, 2016) For the first time this season, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West had its drivers turning right, competing at Sonoma Raceway, a 12-turn road course in beautiful Wine Country. On Saturday, June 25, 2016, Julia Landauer qualified her #54 Curb Records Toyota Camry in the 6th position and finished 11th out of 31 cars.

Sonoma is known to be a very challenging race for drivers, with a long total distance of 127.36 miles raced in the 95+ degree weather. The race lasted 1 hour and 58 minutes, almost double the total time of most of the previous races, with the added difficulty of the racers competing on one of the most physically demanding configurations they’ll face all year.

“It was really tough and fun to finally combine my road course roots in racing with the NASCAR stock cars,” Landauer said. “Racing heavy cars on these tight turns was a very different experience and really exciting.”

2016-race-6
Photo Credit: James Higa

Landauer, who struggled with motor issues during Friday’s practice sessions, was able to work with her crew to resolve the problems for Saturday. She posted a strong time in qualifying, earning her the 6th place starting position. After a big crash on the initial start of the race, Landauer restarted 6th, which she hung on to for several laps. Landauer then fell back to 8th place and stayed there until the mandatory pit stop break, halfway through the race, at lap 32.

“We made some changes during the halfway break to help stop the car from over-turning through the corner,” Landauer said after the race. “I knew we had to work on the car a bit and I worked on how I could change my driving to help the car go faster.”

After the halfway break, Landauer restarted and ran in the 7th position for a few laps, until she spun at Turn 7. After restarting her car and getting going again, she charged from the back up to 8th position. With 5 laps to go, while getting passed going into a corner, Landauer spun again, relegating her to the back. In the remaining 5 laps Landauer was able to pass her way back up to 11th place.

“I’m disappointed that I made a mistake that cost us a better finish. I’ve learned a lot though, and want to thank my spotter and coach Eric Holmes, my crew chief Mario Isola, my team manager Jake Koens, my crew of Dwayne Anderson, Kevin Williams, and Mike Sprague for working so hard all weekend, and to Bill McAnally Racing. Special thanks to Toyota Racing, Curb Records, Napa Filters, and all the fans who came out to support me and my team!”

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Photo Credit: James Higa

Landauer is now 6th in the championship point standings and remains 2nd in rookie point standings.

The Chevys Fresh Mex 200 from Sonoma Raceway will air on NBCSN Thursday, June 30 at 11 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT.

The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West’s next race is at Idaho’s Stateline Speedway for the Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts 150 on Saturday, July 9, 2016. 

Race 5 Recap – Rain Delays, Radio Problems

Charlotte, NC – (June 13, 2016) The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West visited Colorado National Speedway on Saturday, June 11, 2016 for the fifth race of the season. After qualifying in the 7th position, Julia Landauer raced hard to finish 6th place, maintaining 5th position in the points standings, only one point out of 4th position.

Several laps into the 150-lap race, after Landauer made a move from 7th to 6th place, it started raining. Oval NASCAR races don’t race in the rain due to safety, so the cars were brought off the track for over an hour rain delay. 

rain-delay

“It’s a bit unsettling, not knowing if you’re going to get to race that night or have to wait till the next day,” Landauer said. “Luckily, we got the race in on Saturday and stayed in the mental groove.”

Once the drivers were instructed to go back to their cars, Landauer had unexpected radio complications and was almost prevented from going on track. In NASCAR, every driver must have radio communication with their spotter in order to hear feedback from race control and to maintain the highest level of safety. Since Landauer’s radio wasn’t working, she was almost forced to sit out.

Luckily, the issue was resolved last minute and Landauer got out on track. She maintained 6th place for the majority of the race, until contact around lap 100 caused her to spin. Landauer fell back to 12th place, then charged her way back up to 6th in the remaining 50 laps.

Landauer said of the race, “It was a tumultuous night, but my team and I salvaged a solid result and gained in the total points. Thank you to my entire #54 team, Bill McAnally Racing, Toyota Racing, NAPA Filters, Curb Records, and #TeamJulia for your continued support. On to Sonoma!” 

The NAPA/Toyota 150 from Colorado National Speedway will air on NBCSN on Thursday, June 16, at 7 p.m. ET.

Next stop on the K&N West Series calendar is Sonoma Raceway, the first road course race of the season, on Saturday, June 25, 2016.

Julia Landauer hopes to graduate to racing’s next level

If you don’t think a girl raised in New York City and educated at Stanford would have the moxie to stick a stock car in a tight spot at a breakneck speed, you haven’t met Julia Landauer.

Landauer, 24, is so tough she made it halfway through “Survivor: Caramoan” in 2013. She’s so confident she has set a goal of “winning at every level of NASCAR and eventually be competing for wins and championships in the Sprint Cup series.”

She’s impressive enough that NASCAR recently named her to its 2016 NASCAR Next class, a roster of potential future stars. This year’s class also includes Harrison Burton, son of Sprint Cup 21-race winner Jeff Burton, and Todd Gilliland, son of former NASCAR regular David Gilliland.

“Racing in the Sprint Cup series is what I really want to do,” Landauer said. “I also want to continue to use my platform to dive into the world of making the racing industry more environmentally friendly. I’m a huge advocate for STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] education for everybody. STEM can apply to whatever your passion is; it’s not just being a software engineer in a dark basement.”

Julia Landauer competed on "Survivor: Caramoan" in 2013, but her flame was extinguished by Jeff Probst after 19 days.
Julia Landauer competed on “Survivor: Caramoan” in 2013, but her flame was extinguished by Jeff Probst after 19 days.

Landauer has won two championships. At 14, she became the youngest and first female champion of the Skip Barber Racing series. And last year, she won the Limited Late Model division at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Virginia.

She’s competing this season in the televised K&N Pro Series West, a notch below NASCAR’s national divisions, for Bill McAnally Racing with backing from Toyota and coaching from three-time series champion Eric Holmes. She’s fifth in the standings with a pair of top-5 finishes in four starts.

And she has been very racy.

“At Tucson [May 7], she got up to second and ran strong contending for a win,” said McAnally, who also fields Toyota race cars for points leader Gilliland and two other top drivers. “There’s no doubt in my mind she can win at this level, and if the dominoes fall in the right direction, she could be the gal that makes it up there with Danica [Patrick] in the Cup series.”

Landauer grew up in New York’s Upper West Side, near Central Park and the Lincoln Center, which isn’t exactly the typical breeding ground for a stock car driver. Her parents, a doctor and a lawyer, had certain criteria in mind when they went looking for a sport for Julia, a younger sister and eventually a younger brother.

“They really wanted to find an activity where their kids could do something together on the weekends and, specifically, that their girls could compete with boys,” Landauer said. “And there are very few sports, obviously, where that can happen. Because of their interest in cars, they researched how to get kids into racing. And they found go-karts.”

And a very good track. Oakland Valley Race Park in Cuddebackville, New York attracts some of the best young talent in the country, and helped launch the careers of Patrick, Marco Andretti and other professionals. Landauer won early and quickly learned, she said, that racing is what she wanted to do as a profession.

“Being able to express myself in a go-kart and having that human-machine interaction was something I loved,” she said. “Here I was as a 10-year-old and I was manhandling this machine that was really fast, and communicating with my team. It was really cool to be able to work with adults. To be held to a high standard was an incredible amount of responsibility, but it was an incredible payoff as well, being able to race.”

Go-kart racing is where Landauer received a defining piece of advice she would take with her as she climbed the ranks through Ford Focus Midgets, Legends cars and Late Models.

“My go-kart coach told me something I actually found really powerful that helped me break out of the nice girl mode that society imposes on us,” Landauer recalled. “He told me: ‘Julia, your behavior on the racetrack would put you in jail in real life. And you need to drive like that every time you’re on the track. And turn it off right away when you get off.’

“Hearing something so different from what popular society had been telling me or what my teachers had been telling me made it so clear that I don’t have to be nice when I’m trying to win. So that was really a game-changer for me mentally, and I really appreciate being told straight up this is what it takes.”

Landauer earned a bachelor’s degree at Stanford in Science, Technology and Society. Along the way, she soaked up all the knowledge she could to help her prepare for a side of her career that has become almost as important as driving: marketing and self-promotion.

“I take my education very seriously and I wanted to be in an environment in which I would be pushed a lot,” she says. “I also knew that the business courses that were offered would help me with my brand development for racing. So Stanford had all the things. … It was definitely a reach school, but I made the best case I could and it worked out.”

McAnally first worked with Landauer in 2009, before she started Stanford, and said he was impressed then. He said the college-educated Landauer came to the K&N Series with two gifts not usually seen with young drivers in the lower ranks: the ability to communicate to the crew what she needs in her race car and a polished approach with sponsors and media.

“She’s phenomenal,” he said. “She’s a professional public speaker with her education, and she does an amazing job with the sponsors. At this level, to have somebody be able to interact with the corporate sponsors like she does is huge. She does that as well as they do on the national level.”

Julia Landauer signs an autograph for a young fan at Orange Show Speedway in San Bernardino, California.
Julia Landauer signs an autograph for a young fan at Orange Show Speedway in San Bernardino, California.

McAnally worked with other prominent female drivers, including Allison Duncan, who became the first female Late Model winner at Stockton 99 Speedway in Stockton, California, and former Indy car driver Sarah Fisher, who had a flirtation with stock cars in the mid-2000s as part of a developmental program with team owner Richard Childress.

McAnally said Fisher, coming from Indy cars, couldn’t always tell her crew what she needed to make her stock cars fast. Landauer, he said, “is so smart smart she can go to a track she’s never been to, learn what she needs out of the car very quick, communicate that to the crew.”

“The thing about K&N versus the national touring series is we’ll run a lot of 150-lap races with no pit stops,” he said. “We go into a lot of smaller venues where they try to keep things affordable, and by doing that, we don’t do pit stops. So what you’ve got, you’ve got for 150 laps. So if you don’t get it right during practice, you have your hands full during the race.”

The team owner said his challenge is to help Landauer find the boundaries between not driving aggressively enough and driving too aggressively — he says she crossed the latter in her most recent race when she triggered a crash involving teammates Gilliland and Riley Herbst.

“She’s got four or five major corporate sponsors that are behind her, and she knows this is her shot,” McAnally said. “So at times she’s a little too aggressive. Right now we’re trying to develop her to know where that fine line is where you’re not too aggressive, but you’re not giving anything away.”

Landauer was voted off on Day 19 of “Survivor: Caramoan,” an opportunity she was presented with after “applying like everyone else.” She says she’s better for the experience.

“I was able to use a lot of skills and education that I had gotten from racing to help me,” she said. “Everything, from knowing who your competitors are to giving up information, but not too much, to being a team player, to knowing how to lead a team and motivate them. The social game was really hard, but a great experience overall.”

The game is ready now, and Julia Landauer said she’s ready to do what it takes. Even if she has to drive her Toyota like she hot-wired it.

 

Read the original article here.