NASCAR is still dominated by white guys. But not for long.
But Brehanna Daniels broke the glass ceiling by becoming the first African American female pit crew member. Right before the next decade begins, it’s poignant to see how this rising star switched up her career path with an unexpected opportunity: NASCAR. Brehanna is just getting started, while she is setting records in her third year. After successfully completing NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program in 2016, she continues to inspire others every time she hops over the wall on pit road. Daniels makes history with her quick tire-changing skills, hard work, and a positive attitude.
From College Basketball to NASCAR, Brehanna’s Athleticism and Consistent Training Proves Success isn’t Linear
It’s all about what you make of it. Her late mother, Kimberly Daniels envisioned she’d be a movie star, but Brehanna was sure any stardom would be in basketball. The NCAA’s Tiffani-Dawn Sykes invited her to try out. Brehanna thought, “NASCAR? I don’t even watch NASCAR. Where are you going with this?” But after watching a YouTube video of NASCAR pit crews on Tiffani’s phone, Brehanna got excited.
She had to make a quick decision between her internship and making it to the tryout.
Phil Horton is the pioneer pit crew coach for the Drive for Diversity program, and who is now her coach, had equipment laid out, unlike an actual pit stop, at tryouts. Brehanna was the only woman there, but with her drive, determination, and a competitive edge, she held her own. Not only did she conquer the tryout, but she also outdid the rest of the guys trying out.
Brehanna’s been able to excel and pave the way for more women to feel confident that they can do it, too.
With Phil Horton to help mentor her, she is now lighting that way by mentoring upcoming woman in pit road. Dalanda Ouendeno is one of Brehanna’s apprentices, who is succeeding in NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program within her first month. Dalanda is also a student-athlete, who played soccer for the University of Miami in Miami, Florida.
These student-athletes have time management skills and stamina. Their keen eye coordination is key when race cars pull up for their pit stop. Brehanna and Dalanda are changing the face of NASCAR for the greater good. Their achievement and legacy is empowering other girls and boys to feel inspired. It is also exciting to see them breaking down the barriers together one by one.
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It’s a new era for women and NASCAR, and they’re making history at each race.
If you can see it, you can be it, and Brehanna and Dalanda are examples of these new opportunities created through the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program. “You can do anything you put your mind to. Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do it,” said Brehanna. With trailblazers like Dalanda and Brehanna, these women took the leap of faith to take on a new life path. And because of history in the making, this poses the question: What will the industry look like ten years from now?
Women Like Brehanna and Dalanda are Changing the Face of NASCAR
It’s only a matter of time before more women join in other areas, too. NASCAR has more women thriving in the garages and beyond. With female NASCAR officials, drivers, and pit crew tire changers, the future of NASCAR is securing its promise to bring more opportunities for men and women alike.
Disclosure: I was NASCAR’s guest for events at the Charlotte Motor Speedway; travel an accommodations were provided but all opinions are my own.