While most attention each week is focused on drivers and crew chiefs, the unsung members of NASCAR’s race teams are often the pit crew members. In its third year, NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity Pit Crew search took place last Friday in Charlotte.
One high profile graduate of the program, Brehanna Daniels, hosted NASCAR America’s cameras during this year’s combine as 13 college athletes took part.
The right rear tire changer for the No. 55 Xfinity team, Daniels is NASCAR’s first female African American pit crew member.
“I feel like a hero,” Daniels said. “Like I really am paving the way for others. Just them seeing me do it, it makes them want to be a part of something too.”
Phil Horton, Director of Athletic Performance – Drive for Diversity, oversaw the combine as potential crew members were challenged with a variety of exercises to test their core and stamina. That strength is essential to being a part of a winning team.
“Once we show them how drivers need them to win a race, it’s a huge rush so far as jumping over the wall in front of a car at 45 miles an hour,” said Horton. “It gives them the same feeling they had when they played stick and ball.”
“I just had a guy on my pit crew in the Trucks who came from the Jets,” Parker Kligerman said. “He had played for the New York Jets for a year or two. So that’s incredible to me to see these athletes who were aspiring for stick-and-ball sports, but then find this opportunity to get in the pit crew realm. And for race teams, that’s gold because we want the best athletes we can find and that’s how we make the pit stops faster. And when you make time on pit road, that’s just easy positions on the race track and that’s what all the race teams want”
For more, watch the video above.