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Racings Latest Rising Star: Julia Landauer

Julia Landauer at the 2016 K&N finale. [Photo Credit: julialandauer.com]

Julia Landauer at the 2016 K&N finale. [Photo Credit: julialandauer.com]

Turk’s Tracks
A Few Loose Lug Nuts from Pit Row

By Gene Turk

It seems we have a new rising star in the world of stock car racing and her name is Julia Landauer. Julia drives for Bob Bruncatis Sunrise Ford team in the K&N Pro Series West. Julia is in her mid-twenties and has just set a record for the highest finishing female in the 62 year history of the K & N series. Ms. Landauer’s accomplishments include 13 top 10 finishes in 14 races. Add in the fact that her worst finish was a 11th at Sonoma and you can see what a great year she had. Not one to be content with her 2016 season, Julia has set her future racing goals high. She stated that her future goal is to race in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series and win a championship. If she could bring her consistency finishing ways to NASCAR, her hopes of winning a championship don’t seem that far-fetched. Julia’s accomplishments got me to thinking about other women in racing, both past and present.

Julia Landauer. [Photo Credit: James Higa]

Julia Landauer. [Photo Credit: James Higa]

Most recently, I watched Lelanni Munter compete in the ARCA race at Daytona. Later in the day, I found out that Courtney Force is second in points in her drag racing series. Before Ms. Force, there was Cha Cha Muldowney. Of course, Danica Patrick’s name comes to the forefront for women in NASCAR. But we need to add her name in thanks to her Indy car win in Japan.

Perhaps Indy car racing has done the most for bridging the gender gap in racing. I think of Janet Guthrie and how she was the first women to race at Indy. Sara Fisher followed and was unique in that she went from race car driver to race car owner. The best year for women racers at Indy was 2013 when four women started the race. They were Pippa Mann, Katherine Legge, Ana Beatritz, and Simona de Silvestro.

Women in racing have the same challenges that men face, but to a greater degree. As an example, a race car owner once stated that he will look at 100 race car drivers to find the one driver that he wants to drive for him. That ratio of 100 to one is the same for women. Unfortunately, it is much harder for the owner to find 100 women drivers to choose from.

The biggest challenge that women drivers have is in finding sponsors and the money to continue their racing career. Simona de Silvestro stated in an interview that she spends more time in trying to find a sponsor that she does racing. As a brand spokesperson, we find it quite natural that a male racer will talk about his sponsor like NKG spark plugs, or STP or Raybestos brakes. As a female spokesperson, one thinks of beauty products or women’s clothing lines. Because the majority of race fans are male it does make it easier for the sponsor to promote products that the male race fan can relate to. Another way of looking at it is that no matter who the sponsor is, he or she will be happy if the car is winning.

So if sponsorship money is a major hurtle for women, what options does that leave them to get more seat time? To keep the cost down, she could consider 3/4 midgets that run 1200 cc motorcycle engines. If she would rather run on paved tracks, Legend cars can be purchased as a turnkey racer. Open wheel racing leaves her with the Formula Ford cars. Then there is the Mazda MX-5 or Mini Cooper road racing option.

Let me finish this article by saying that I am an equal opportunity race fan. I learned at a very early age that the young ladies that I raced with in quarter midgets were every bit as competitive and had the desire to win as much as any of the boys. In the near future, I expect to see more women drivers in all series of racing and they should be able to find more sponsors if they continue to perform well.

Find out more about Julia Landauer at her website: http://julialandauer.com/, on Facebook, on Twitter and Instagram.

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Gene Turk
Gene Turk was born with racing in his blood. At age 8 he started racing Quarter Midgets as member of the Great Milwaukee Quarter Midget club. For five years he raced the #7 car that his father built. He then graduated from the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) with a degree in Industrial Engineering and Internal Combustion Engineering. While in college he obtained his Private Pilot’s License. Along the way he has attended numerous Indy car and stock car races at the Milwaukee Mile during the 60s, 70sand 80s along with area Midget car races. He would also frequently fly to the Brickyard to watch the Indy 500 time trials in the 60s and 70s and more recently attended the 2014 Indy 500. He has also attended numerous sports car and NASCAR races at Elkhart Lake Road America. Finally, Gene has owned many classic cars including his present 1990 Corvette and is a self-described “Gear Head.”