When you think of women and racing it’s likely the sexy track girls that come to mind, because motorsports is otherwise dominated by men. Men drive the cars, men staff the crews on pit lane, and men fill the broadcast trailers behind the scenes. Despite appearances, women play a bigger part in NASCAR than simply being eye candy alongside the drivers.
At the Toyota/Save Mart 350 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series held in Sonoma, Toyota put the spotlight on women. NASCAR might seem like a man’s world, but there are women behind the scenes and on the track who are a big part of the NASCAR experience.
Hailie Deegan is only 16-years-old. She received her high school diploma on a warm Saturday in June and then promptly hopped into the No. 19 Toyota to drive in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. This isn’t an exaggeration. She walked across the stage at the track wearing her fire suit under her gown, got her diploma, and then got right into her car to drive.
The daughter of driver and X-Games athlete Brian Deegan, Hailie is a part of the 2018 NASCAR Next program. It features up and coming drivers in the sport and Deegan definitely qualifies. She held her own against older, more experienced drivers and pulled out a 7th place finish on graduation day. Not bad at all considering most kids her age are just getting their license and hoping not to ding the family car on the way to school.
That’s a lot of pressure for a teenager, But Deegan lives and breathes NASCAR. She loves to drive and sees every race as a learning experience. She has the focus, determination, and raw talent to become a force in the sport.
While Deegan takes to the track, behind-the-scenes women like Pam Miller, FOX Sports’ NASCAR Xfinity Series producer, make sure everyone sees the action from home. Miller took us on a tour through the rows and rows of trailers that house the people and equipment that bring NASCAR to your screen.
The difference here is that instead of being the new kid like Deegan, Miller is a broadcast veteran and she’s in charge. Miller oversees the ultimate juggling act. Her team of mostly men sit in front of myriad screens with a mind-boggling number of camera angles to figure out exactly what you’ll see at home.
The team manages every detail and they do it live, adapting to whatever happens as it happens. This isn’t scripted television. These are unpredictable live races. It’s stressful and crazy and, much like Deegan, Miller can’t imagine doing anything else.
Then there’s Laura Pierce, General Manager Toyota Motorsports. Her typical day is anything but typical, with lots of time on the road at live events. She, too, embraces the action and excitement of what it means to be a part of the NASCAR world and thrives in the high-paced environent.
If there’s a common thread that unites these very different women with very different backgrounds and skills, it’s the joy they take from living in the moment, constantly learning, and ever embracing what each day holds. None are content to simply hold a boring, predictable job. They want something more. They want something exciting and engaging that makes them constantly push to be better. NASCAR provides exactly that experience.
Whether it’s up and coming drivers like Hailie Deegan or those behind-the-scenes like Pam Miller, and Laura Pierce, women play an important part in making the NASCAR experience something fans can truly enjoy.