Updated: Aug 7, 2021
Bright. Talented. Athletic. Driven. Trailblazer. This is Nascar’s first African American female tire changer, Brehanna Daniels, and she is here to stay.
Brehanna’s path to NASCAR was an unusual one and was almost overnight, as she would put it, and orchestrated by God. She went from being unknown and not knowing much about racing to becoming a trailblazer of the sport for all women or young girls who dream of having a career in NASCAR. Let’s take a look at how her journey began.
Brehanna Daniels is used to being the “underdog” and a groundbreaker. She grew up playing on all-boys basketball teams, knowing within herself that she was as competitive as them. She would spend several hours practicing her shots, until the janitors would kick her out. That’s where the drive, determination and setting the bar high for herself began.
The new career path came about in 2016, while she attended Norfolk State University on a basketball scholarship. She was still unfamiliar with NASCAR at that time. She didn’t know much about the sport nor had she developed the interest yet. So, it wasn’t until a friend of hers came by to tell her about an opportunity that would change her life forever.
Bet on Yourself
To her surprise, NASCAR showed up at Norfolk State that year, hosting pit crew tryouts by way of their Drive for Diversity Program. Something told Brehanna that she had to try out for it. If someone else believed in her abilities enough to go against a mostly, male dominated tryout, then Brehanna knew she needed to bet on herself to take on the challenge.
Brehanna Daniels / CREDIT: DIEDRA LAIRD | CHARLOTTE OBSERVER
When she showed up, she was the only woman. As she advanced in the tryouts, she became a part of a six-month Pit Crew Development Program, where she was one of ten selected out of the country to join the program. There she became the first African American woman to join a NASCAR pit crew, changing tires and more in under 13 seconds. In February 2019, Brehanna became the first African American woman to serve in the pit crew at the Daytona 500.
Today, Brehanna is helping others to achieve the same thing, while she works hard for the No. 51 Chevrolet for Rick Ware Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series She didn’t grow up around racing nor did she study STEM education. However, Brehanna has shown us that if you have a desire to learn, strong work ethic and skills that are transferrable, you can go anywhere. That’s what she’s teaching young girls that want to follow in her footsteps.
Brehanna Daniels and Pit Crew / CREDIT: BRIAN LAWDERMILK | GETTY IMAGES
So, for any young girls that are reading this, here are a few things that you’ll want to take away from Brehanna Daniels:
Believe in yourself.
Believe in DREAMS.
Surround yourself with positive people that motivate you.
Work hard. No short cuts.