“It’s always nice seeing other women reach out to me and say, ‘You’re living my dream, how can I get involved?'” she says. “More people are seeing me do this and they want to do it, too … so one day, I hope there’s a lot of women in this sport.”
It’s a white, male dominated sport but this trailblazing black queen has boldly stamped her foot amongst the top guns, paving way for other women of color, challenging the norm.
In 2016 in a move towards inclusivity by the organisation via their Drive for Diversity” program, 27-year-old Brehanna Daniels joined NASCAR after her senior year at Norfolk State University in Virginia, where she played point guard on the women’s basketball team, today she proudly makes history as NASCAR’s first Black woman pit crew member.
She is also the First Black Female Tire Changer at NASCAR! In 2019, she once again rewrote history as the first Black woman to work the pit for the Daytona 500 race.
Reflecting on how it all started, she says:
“I was sitting in the cafeteria, mid-bite of my Chick-fil-A sandwich, when my friend from the school’s athletic department, Tiffany, tapped me on the shoulder and said, ‘Hey, NASCAR is holding tryouts for their pit crews on Wednesday, you should go,” Daniels, now 27, tells PEOPLE. “I looked at her like, ‘Girl, I don’t even watch NASCAR.”
“I remember one of the first times I reported over to a team, I went to the crew chief and I said, ‘Hey my name is Brehanna Daniels and I’ll be your changer for the day,’” she recalled in an interview with Glamour in 2020. “And he was like, ‘You’re changing my tires?’ It was really, really tough in the beginning.”
“At first I think a lot of people were like, ‘She’s not doing it for real; she’s just here for show,’” she continued. “But obviously, I got sent to the track to do my job, and I can do it well; otherwise, I wouldn’t have gotten here.”
Reflecting on being the first Black woman, specifically, to pit in a NASCAR crew, Daniels notes, “God couldn’t have picked anybody else better to do the job. It takes a strong person to be able to make that change … knowing the history of NASCAR and the faces people are used to seeing on the track. Even though I was a little nervous at first, because I didn’t know how I would be judged or looked at, I’m like, ‘You know what? Somebody has to do this, and I guess I’m going to be the one to do this.'”
The program which started in 2004 now has more than 50 graduates of the pit crew member division now working for the organization
Brehanna Daniels’ advice to young women who want to follow in her footsteps: “Never put yourself in a box. Always be open to new opportunities. If you’re going to do something, do something that will impact others for the better.”Terrell Maxwell
“It means a lot to me to be in this position to be able to make a difference, to be able to make change,” Daniels said.
Amazingly Daniels isn’t just making history, but also helping other people climb as well, embracing representation and mentorship