Meet Brehanna Daniels, the First Black Woman to Join NASCAR’s Pit Crew
Photo Credit: Instagram / @brehannadaniels / @maxwell_visuals
NASCAR’s pit crew has a new woman on the block!
According to Simple Most, Brehanna Daniels is NASCAR’s first Black woman in its pit crew as a tire changer.
The HBCU grad says the opportunity to audition for the pit crew came out of nowhere.
“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,’ shared Daniels. “I looked at her like, ‘Girl, I don’t even watch NASCAR.'”
As a point guard for Norfolk State University’s women’s basketball team, Daniels went for the opportunity and was eventually invited to join as a NASCAR pit crew member upon her graduation in 2016.
No more not wanting to join NASCAR because you don’t see anyone in the sport who looks like you. Look at me! I’ve been there and had to start it out. I took that risk. All you beautiful black girls and boys come join our sport. WE NEED YOU!!!!!
— Brehanna Daniels (@Mindless_BMD) February 19, 2021
The 27-year-old is quite the barrier breaker, not only as a woman in the sport, but a Black woman at that.
Because of Them We Can reports that out of the nearly 3,000 NASCAR drivers who’ve made it to the Cup level, only 16 have been women. In 2013, the league hired its first woman to work for the pit crew.
In 2017, Daniels made history again as the first Black woman to work for the pit crew for a NASCAR race. A woman of firsts, she’s also became the first Black woman to work the pit crew for the Daytona 500 race in 2019.
“God couldn’t have picked anybody else better to do the job,” said Daniels. “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.'”
On Feb. 14 and 15, Daniels joined Breanna O’Leary and Dalanda Ouendeno as one of only three women working for the pit crew.
“At first, I think a lot of people were like, ‘She’s not doing it for real; she’s just here for show,'” continued Daniels. “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.”
With just five years in the game, Daniels is already reshaping the way we see NASCAR today.