Women in A Man’s World

For so many years I’ve been a part of the automotive marketplace, and I’ve met some amazing people from every aspect of this great and crazy industry. So when I got a call from Terry to give a different viewpoint on the automotive performance aftermarket, I knew that this was a great time to do more than introduce myself. It was a chance for all of us to inform more women about this great hobby.

Now I know you guys don’t mind more women in the business. I’m sure you’d rather talk to a female than some of your buddies that may not be so easy on the eyes. I understand. In order for our industry to grow and evolve, we have to promote all the different facets of the automotive arena.

I was brought up with cars, my father worked for Chevrolet, Ford and Chrysler. So I guess gasoline is in my blood. Working in the garage with my dad was our biggest connection. My passion for cars grew over the years. I started racing when I was 16, from drag racing, auto cross, road racing, club racing, road rallying and cars shows; I was really into it. You may know a few women that love racing and cars. A great career opportunity awaits these ladies in every aspects of racing. You don’t have to be a mechanic on a stock car; the business has grown so much – more than just NASCAR – there are marketing, sales, promotions, technical, public relations, event marketing and so much more. NASCAR is even promoting a Women’s Career Day at Charlotte this October. I’ll be there, speaking and empowering 50 exciting ladies. Make sure you do your part too.

My passion for cars is more than just racing. I’ve restored cars and worked in the automotive aftermarket since I was a kid. Could you imagine answering the phone at 10 years old and knowing more than the person calling tech service. And on top of that being a girl with a deep voice – yup – that was me! Answering brake questions and taking sales calls after school. I guess some women really do have oil and gas in their blood. I’m one of them. So of course I had to marry a guy who was just as into cars, restoration and collecting as I was. We even named our daughter Shelby.

So many people ask me if I made up my last name, no it’s my married name. When I was single I opened the phone book and started calling guys with car-like names. Mr. Axle and Mr. Brake were married, Mr. Camshaft and Mr. Driveshaft were seriously dating someone, but Mr. Fix was available. How lucky am I?

I believe that whatever you love to do you have the ability to create a niche that juices those passions for anything in life. For me it’s cars. Many women are entering the field these days and for the fantastic women that already are a part of our efforts we need to support one another. SEMA has created the Business Women’s Network, which I recently joined as I thought it was just a social club. Boy, was I wrong. These amazing gals are from every aspect of the automotive industry you can imagine. Their goal is to empower young women with a scholarship program, mentor those that have interest, and help each other grow in this industry. If you could attend the SEMA Business Women’s Breakfast at SEMA you’d see a group that amasses almost 400 women that know how to network and help each other. Oh, most important is YES, all men are invited too. We don’t hate men. We all have to work together.

So I started looking for a women’s group at AAPEX, then I found the Car Care Councils Women Board. This is another group of women that are working with Northwood University and bring in women with higher educations. So my goal is to integrate more of us in each group. For you men – this is more than great conversation and easy on the eyes. You would be impressed at the support that is available for women in this business.

So next time your daughter, sister, neighbor, friend or whatever isn’t sure what career (or change of career) they are looking for, but want something that’s challenging, fun and always growing, guide them to the auto industry, help them make a difference. It’s definitely made a big difference to me. So much so that I’ve been fortunate to be able to enjoy the opportunity to educate all drivers on national TV, radio, print and now in cyberspace! Carve out a niche and blaze a trail. You’ll soon realize that it’s the drive of a lifetime.  

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