Through the years, Julia Landauer has worked diligently to carve her path into the competitive sport of NASCAR. As a matter of fact, the 25-year-old New York City, NY native has made a name for herself as a congenial, competitive, and driven racer.
In 2011, Landauer competed in late models at the action packed South Boston Speedway. Along the way, the observant, fast learning racer proved herself on the short track scene, eventually scoring a historic victory at Motor Mile Speedway just four years later.
No doubt, Landauer’s grace and poise is matched by her competitive drive in the racecar. Arguably, those qualities might explain why she was named to the 2016-’17 NASCAR Next class and this year’s Forbes 30 Under 30.
Even so, Landauer remains the humble, kind, and gracious competitor who made the transition towards the path of NASCAR in 2009. For this reason, this young racer is more than a trailblazer – she is a prime example of that truly competitive, fresh talent that the sport can embrace for the long run.
Presently, Landauer competes in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Series, dabbling in the occasion K&N Pro Series East race or two. Despite some struggles this season, she expressed optimism and excitement for her present and future role in racing.
During the New Hampshire Motor Speedway race weekend, I caught up with Landauer to reflect on her journey. Following years of correspondence over the years, it was a pleasure to meet this remarkable, earthy athlete.
In any case, let’s talk racing with this epic Empire State driver! Without further ado, it’s time to get “In the Fast Lane with Julia Landauer!”
Rob Tiongson : First of all, it’s awesome to finally meet you at last after corresponding with you online through the years. What’s the experience been like for you competing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West and East versus our old days back in South Boston?
Julia Landauer : I’m really excited. It’s been a bunch of years of incredibly hard work. There’s been a lot of good moments and some bad moments.
2015 and ’16 were awesome with the championship and doing so well in the K&N West. We’re having a tough year. We’ve had a lot of mechanical failures. It’s cool to be out here in the East Coast racing. I got to race at Bristol which was awesome except that it was rain shortened. We had an impressive run there.
You have some tough and trying times. I still love this sport so much that you’ve just got to stick with it and do the most that you can.
RT : You talked about how the sport has its ebbs and flows. Sometimes, there’s some bad moments but there’s mostly good. You’ve knocked on the door for wins so people know you can do it. How gratifying would it be to race your way into Victory Lane?
JL : Oh, I need it to happen soon! I know that I’m totally capable of it and it’s just about putting all the pieces together, as you know, and having a little bit of luck.
I think it would be huge. It would be huge not just for women in racing but for me, it would be a big confidence boost. I think it would just be cool to show that someone so different and from New York is able to show that they can be the best too.
RT : Your racing journey has taken you everywhere. You’ve raced in BMWs, late models, and now stock cars. The doors have opened for you and you’ve really worked hard at it. Does it sometimes feel like a blur for you to realize you’re racing here at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, your first mile racetrack?
JL : That’s a great way of looking at it. Yea, I mean, you can get caught up on it a little bit. I’m very aware of how long it’s taken and how much hard work it’s taken. So, I’m very appreciative of being here. Once I get here, I elevate my standards and I want to be racing in the front.
I’m a little disappointed with our qualifying effort but we have a good race pace. It’ll be a matter of getting many positions on the restarts and trying to race up front.
RT : New Hampshire’s a unique track that looks like a short track but has a superspeedway feel. From your perspective, despite the added substance, how tough is this track?
JL : They added the VHT but it’s still a very difficult track. This is so different from anything I’ve ever raced on. I don’t have a lot of experience on super flat tracks except for the quarter miles but you’re going so slow anyways. To get up to impressive speeds and have big wide corners, it’s so different.
It’s been an adjustment. It’s been hard. I think I adapted to Bristol a little easier. This is interesting to come here and put my big kid pants on. (chuckles)
RT : Does it compare to any other tracks in the West Coast or is this totally unique for you?
JL : This is a totally unique track for me. The West Coast doesn’t get to as many big racetracks. It’s a little like some of the flatter tracks we’ve been to but it’s different.
RT : That’s interesting to hear. Most say it’s like Martinsville.
JL : I’ve never been on Martinsville so it’s nothing like the West Coast, for sure.
RT : Would you consider the opportunity to race that big late model race at Martinsville in October?
JL : Oh yea. It’s always fun to get in a car. Whenever you can get on a big track that you know you’ll race later in your career, that’s important.
RT : It’s pretty cool how you got named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 List earlier this year. How humbling was it to be named to the list with other folks who’ve done a lot, just as you have?
JL : It was very cool. You’re alongside Simone Biles and the Kylie Jenners of the world. It was exciting and cool that my unique approach to racing has been catching some eyeballs and hopefully we can make more of it.
RT : NASCAR has made some strides with its diversity program with more women and minorities in the sport. Could NASCAR do more to increase its efforts?
JL : Yea, I mean, I think what’s interesting with NASCAR is that there’s so many other factors – because there’s so many other factors, I think everyone across the globe can work on diversity and having more women involved. You see that NASCAR corporate has a lot more women. A lot of it comes down to the teams.
At the end of the day, you want to have qualified people and you want to make it an environment that those qualified and diverse people want to work in. I think a little bit can go a long way, in a lot of different ways. So, I think we’re seeing improvement. I think it’s going to be a slow journey.
RT : But at least we’re getting there!
JL : Exactly.
RT : This is something I’ve asked a lot of the drivers in the garage area. If you could be a driver/team owner, which driver, past or present, would you want on your team because you liked them, wanted them on your team towards the end of your career, and pick despite past issues?
JL : My hero is Paul Newman. I would’ve loved to have him on my team. Mark Martin would’ve been cool to have on my team. To be able to work with Dale Earnhardt Sr. and see that intensity would’ve been cool.
RT : I bet! I can only imagine what Dale would be saying if he got to work with you. I’ve heard stories where he’s really broken in people.
JL : (laughs) Oh, I love it! No BS, that’s the way you’ve got to be!
RT : (laughs) Exactly. What is your “Welcome to NASCAR” moment, bad or good, that made you feel like you were accepted among your peers and like you belonged out there?
JL : When I won my first race in 2015 at Motor Mile Speedway, I think that’s where I really thought, “OK, I’ve proven that I deserve to be here.” I think people were really excited for me and my team. And I was really like, “I’m here and I’m here to stay.”
RT : That’s really cool. I remember that moment. When I worked with Natalie Sather years ago, it was like, we came so close! To see one of us do it was cool.
Let’s talk a little bit off track. I really enjoyed your Spotify playlist. When you’re needing to relax, what’s your favorite guilty pleasure TV show or musician/band?
JL : Yea, I don’t really believe in guilty pleasures. I don’t watch a ton of TV. There’s a BBC show called “Call the Midwife” which I have binge watched. My boyfriend and I are working on “House of Cards.”
We like to do hiking and get outside a whole bunch more. I listen to a whole bunch of music. I like country music, rock, indie, and pop – just depends on the mood.
RT : If you had to pick a tune to be your theme song, what would it be?
JL : I think “Brave” by Sara Bareilles is really cool. It’s just a really feel good, pump up song. There are a couple but that’s the first that comes to mind.
RT : If you could give any advice for anyone trying to make their way into the sport, what would you tell them?
JL : Keep trying new things. If you’ve tried something that hasn’t worked, try something else and tweak your strategy. But stick with it.
Author’s Notes : Special thanks to Julia Landauer for this wonderful opportunity at New Hampshire! Furthemore, if you’d like to learn more about Julia, “Follow” her on Twitter, “Like” her Facebook page, and “Visit” her official website!