While NASCAR racing features stock cars moving at remarkable, almost super-human speeds, the path the sport has taken towards gender equality has been traveled at a veritable snail’s crawl. Only a handful of female drivers have competed at the elite level, with JR Motorsports driver Danica Patrick as the most notable NASCAR competitor in recent memory. Despite the gender disparity in stock car racing, 30-year-old Christmas Abbott has blazed another NASCAR trail, becoming the first female NASCAR pit crewmember.
On the pit crew, Abbott routinely has 12 seconds or less to assist her team, refueling the car and changing tires, according to ABC World News. In a sport of seconds, her performance and the pit crew’s efficiency is absolutely vital.
Abbott reaches a modest five-foot-three with heels on, but her small stature hasn’t stopped her from exercising a fervent competitiveness and dare we say badass spirit. She loves tattoos, spent four years in Iraq working as a civilian, and keeps to a strict cross-fitter workout regiment. She even competes in intense athletic competitions, once having to carry her 125-pound friend with one arm and 70-pound weight in the other, a combination that totaled twice her weight. It’s this strength and resiliency that she believes can drive her to success. "I feel like I'm bringing something huge to the sport, but this ultimately is much bigger than me," Abbott told ThatsRacin.com.
Shaun Peet, Abbott's pit crew coach, didn’t share her confidence at first, worried that her position on the team was a publicity stunt of sorts. Her performance on the track, however, spoke for itself. “I think, I was convinced when I saw her,” Peet told That’s Racin. “She ran a 6.8 [second] right side the other day, which for as long as she's being doing it is exceptional."
Despite her obvious concerns about working in such a male dominated environment, Abbott’s focus remains on her upcoming debut race. She yearns for success, but not just in terms of crossing the gender barrier. When asked if she wanted to be the Danica Patrick of pit crews Abbott responded, “I’m going to say no because I want to be the best and she hasn’t proven to be the best yet. I don’t want anything given to me because I’m female. I go in there and I have to work twice as hard just because I am female and because I look a certain way. I want this because it’s an opportunity that intrigues me.”