Julia Landauer is a championship-winning racecar driver from New York City. Since making history at the age of 14 as the youngest and first female driving champion from the Skip Barber Racing Series, Julia has explored and won in all types of racing, from go-karts, to formula cars, to stock cars. Now 23 years old, Julia has her NASCAR license and is making history with her wins in a local NASCAR series in Virginia.
In addition to racing every season since she was 10, Julia graduated from Stanford University in 2014, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Science, Technology, and Society. Through her STEM background from college, Julia continues to educate and advocate for the support and advancement of women in STEM fields. She hopes to expose the technical world of racing to those interested in engineering careers.
Now settled in North Carolina, “the heart of NASCAR,” Julia seeks to make her name synonymous with more than speed and grit; with her main goal always being to win championships as a professional racecar driver, she also wants to build a business where technology, community and racing intersect and fuse. As she climbs the NASCAR ladder Julia hopes to use her racing platform to continue advocating for women in sports and STEM, for education and for following your dreams despite the hurdles.
1. What’s a typical day look like for you, being one of few female NASCAR racers in a sport dominated by men?
Right now my life as a racer is similar to that of an entrepreneur in a start up. I have the goal of making it to the top level of NASCAR and have to constantly hustle to get there. My days include researching companies to send partnership proposals to; I have frequent meetings with NASCAR, teams, industry people, and mentors; I do my own marketing and brand development; I travel for speaking engagements; And specifically for racing, I work out every day with cardio and strength training and I visualize my racing.
2. Could you describe the type of conditions for which you race? And how fitness and conditioning off the track is just as important as the conditioning that’s on the track?
We muscle around 3,400 pounds of machine around a racetrack against the G-forces, with the car getting up to 130 degrees inside, for anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours. And the minute a driver fatigues physically, their performance dramatically decreases. Stamina and endurance, along with core and upper body strength, are crucial to any driver’s success. I like to mix up my workout intensity levels, with a combination of long distance running, circuit training, and strength training with weights and then with my body.
3. In addition to the level of physicality you need to race, I imagine that there are both mental and psychological hurdles that you need to overcome. Can you share some insight into what those are and perhaps some tools you use before you step onto the track?
The mental side of racing is huge. We need to be smart about executing passes, know when to let someone pass us if need be, and manage our equipment to last the entire race. We need to be patient while also being extremely on edge. Racing is almost like a drug, with extreme highs and extreme lows, and being able to manage both, deal with huge pressure from yourself, team and sponsors and bounce back to your A-game is key.
If I’m not nervous before a race, with uncomfortable knots in my stomach, I know I’m not mentally ready.
4. Your resume is impressive – a Stanford grad with a background in STEM, turned survivalist on CBS’ Survivor, turned professional race car driver. What’s your practice around living this very whole life?
I’m very lucky that my parents always told my siblings and I to dream big and figure out how to go after our dreams. There are so many incredibly rewarding things in this world that we can accomplish. I try to always stay in touch with what is important to me and what excites me, set big goals, and go after them. I get so much satisfaction from collaborating with other driven people and working through challenging endeavors. I hope to feel that way for the rest of my life.
5. At Movemeant Foundation, our contention is that fitness can unlock the potential for young women to overcome their body image insecurities, to deepen their sense of self and to discover their best version. Any parting thoughts for our readers?
Movemeant Foundation’s mission is fantastically on point. Women and girls are explicitly and implicitly critiqued on their appearance and bodies, which is very superficial yet powerful and harmful. Part of what’s harmful about this culture is that it takes control over one’s self worth away from women and girls and puts it in the hands of strangers. So we must regain control.
Physical activity is a way to learn how to push yourself, discipline yourself and experience the highs of a good workout, thereby putting the control back in your hands. Exercise for you, figure out which benefits you enjoy the most, and reap in the benefits of getting hot and sweaty : )