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posted on April 5th, 2019

Ever since Julia Landauer first touched a track, she’s been winning. Julia started racing go karts at 10 years old, and right away she was beating the boys. But even then, racing was more than a talent — it was a passion. “Early on, I loved being at the track more than being at school,” she says.

As she got older, she continued racing and continued her winning ways. At 14, Julia became the Skip Barber Racing Series’s first-ever and youngest female champion. “That win confirmed that I was good enough to really do this.”

Which was great, because Julia always wanted to be a race car driver. She grew up watching Formula One and idolizing the likes of Paul Newman, Amelia Earhart, Lyn St. James, and Michael Schumacher. So all the racing, education, and training she’s done has fed into that dream, everything has led to this — NASCAR.

Even her time at Stanford University has helped her racing career. When people asked Julia what she was going to do when she graduated, she told them she’s going to move to North Carolina and race cars. Some people got it, others didn’t. “It was eye opening that not everyone was able to see my vision, that they didn’t think I was going to use my degree as I raced,” she says. “But I learned a lot in college that easily relates to what I do today, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

To the races

Today, Julia drives in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series, the highest level of stock car racing in Canada. She’s moved up the ladder from NASCAR’s K&N West Series, and is now in her fourth consecutive season racing in NASCAR. The next step will be to one of the big three NASCAR pro series.

It may not shock you to hear that the world of motorsports does not have a very strong female presence. “For the most part I’ve been the only woman, throughout my career,” says Julia. “There were a few races in the K&N series in 2017 where there were three of us, and that was huge.” Julia has noticed some progress over recent years, but “when you start from zero, anything feels like a big jump.”

Since Danica Patrick retired, there are no female drivers in the top three levels of NASCAR. “So we’re still very rare, but also in the crews. There are no female crew chiefs in any of the pro NASCAR series.” The drivers get all the glory, but having women in the garage and with headsets on also helps shift the culture in racing.

“I do think it’s cool that in the automotive industry at large, there are women leading companies (like Mary Barra at GM), and you see various designers and engineers now. Obviously, the fact that we’re now able to showcase women involved on the consumer side normalizes women and girls being interested in cars.”

Hustling hard

If you didn’t know, racing is very expensive. Julia, along with most drivers, often has to get creative about securing sponsors. So she’s become a true renaissance woman, juggling multiple business ventures and partnerships whenever she’s not on the track. “You really need an entrepreneurial mindset,” she says. “The goal is always: ‘how do I build up my brand?’ It sounds cliche, but that’s how we attract people to work with us. So at the end of the day, everything I do is aimed at helping my racing career.”

Julia is a vocal advocate for STEM education, and serves as an external advisor to Hyundai. She works with TechForce Foundation to educate students and their families on technical vocations — career opportunities that often go overlooked these days. She also has her own watch! The Julia Watch is an automotive-focused watch for women that fits right, looks good, and was co-designed by Julia.

Julia is also a busy motivational speaker. She’s found that her experiences in racing and the lessons she’s learned there translate well to many different areas of life. She shares her thoughts on competition and ambition with companies, sports leagues, brands, and at trade shows. “It’s really cool to be able to tell stories and see it resonate with people.”

She speaks on topics that people have heard before, but not from her perspective. Most people don’t know any race car drivers, and almost nobody knows any female race car drivers. Julia is out to change that.

Steven is an avid car guy and content specialist at Turo. Between Golden State Warriors games he can be found getting lost somewhere in California.