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.