NASCAR's Drive for Diversity

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Brehanna Daniels and Breanna O’Leary have a lot in common.

They are both former collegiate athletes, Daniels a point guard on the Norfolk State women’s basketball team, and O’Leary an outfielder on the Alcorn State softball team. They were both recruited by NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program which targets former college athletes. They both excelled in the tryout and the combine despite going up against mostly men. They are now both tire changers on the pit crew for the No. 52 Ford in NASCAR’s Monster Energy Cup Series, and they both have lofty goals that they hope to accomplish in the sport.

According to Dion Williams who runs the Drive for Diversity Pit Crew Program, “Our idea is to expose the gospel of NASCAR to as many student-athletes as possible”. And it seems to be working.

Neither Daniels nor O’Leary were very familiar with the sport before they were literally recruited to be a part of it, and their athletic skills honed on the court and the field have really come in handy when going over the wall for a pit stop on race day. Speed, quickness, strength, and general athleticism are all put to the test during a pit stop where seconds can make the difference between winning and losing.

“Point guards, you have to calm and poised on the floor and read the situations that you are in, and it’s the same thing with being a tire changer,” said Daniels.

The other thing that drives these ladies is that they have found another avenue to feed their “drive” to compete, and according to O’Leary, softball and pit crew are more similar than you might think, “It’s the same. You get the same feeling in both. Either way, you have to do your job and you have to perform, and the same thing is on the line . . . winning or losing”.

In a short amount of time they have gone from ‘women tire changers’, to “two tire changers that happen to be women”, says O’Leary.

The No. 52 team has struggled so far this season, but both Daniels and O’Leary say they are in it for the long haul. They are learning and improving with each and every race, and hope to one day become members of a pit crew on one of NASCAR’s front running teams.

It would be wise not to doubt these two.

For more information on Drive for Diversity, you can follow on Twitter, @NASCARDiversity.