From being a college basketball player at the Norfolk State University to being a NASCAR pit crew member, Brehanna has made a name for herself for being the first African American woman to be part of the crew pitting a vehicle in a national NASCAR series race.
Life indeed happens for all of us in unexpected ways. That was the story of Brehanna. When her friend suggested she try out for NASCAR, she thought her friend was kidding.
Brehanna Daniels, Guyanese and African American descent, is a 27-year-old pit crew member, a tire changer affiliated with NASCAR Racing. In June 2017, she became the first African American woman to pit a vehicle in a national NASCAR series race.
How Brehanna Ended Up At NASCAR
In 2016, Brehanna Daniels was wrapping up her senior year at Norfolk State University in Virginia. At the university, she was playing point guard for the women’s basketball team.
“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. I looked at her like, ‘Girl, I don’t even watch NASCAR.”Brehanna to People Magazine
Brehanna was the only woman among men that tried out for one of the coveted spots on the pit crew team. This was part of NASCAR’s “Drive for Diversity” program.
Brehanna Daniels is a pioneer. In 2016, the 27-year-old made history as the first black woman on the NASCAR pit crew. Now, Daniels has made history again, this time as the first black woman to change NASCAR tires.
During this test, she fell in love with what it took to be a tire changer. Weeks later, she was invited to join the pit crew member program. Three years later, she made history for the first time, becoming the first black woman to pit in the NASCAR Daytona 500 race.
NASCAR’s Drive For Diversity Program
They created the program in 2004 to develop and train ethnically diverse and female drivers both on and off the track. The program focuses on instilling the fundamentals, confidence, and discipline needed to be a top athlete on a NASCAR pit crew.
Also, the program includes weekly hands-on, over-the-wall position training and coaching for tire changers, carriers, fuelers, and jackmen, as well as weight training, footwork, and agility programs.
Objective Of The NASCAR’s Drive For Diversity Program
The objective is to conduct a pit crew development program that is designed to identify, train, coach, and develop minority athletes that possess the skill, attitude, and ability to be successful as a pit crew member into elite levels of the sport.
To offer this chance to young people all across the nation, the program launched a development and recruitment tour. Each year the Pit Crew Tour will continue to identify minority and female student-athletes interested in motorsports.
The tour also serves as a recruiting tool for the program. They make stops at several colleges across the nation. Top participants at each tour stop receive an invitation to compete against other competitors for a spot on the coming year’s development team.
The program also offers opportunities to college athletes interested in the open enrollment portion of the program, located in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Brehanna Daniels’ Feat
In 2020, she won the crew member award at the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Awards ceremony. And this year, she became the first black woman to change tires. More specifically, at a tire changer in the Chevrolet. No. 51 for Rick Ware Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series.
Brehanna Daniels has also been joined by teammates Breanna O’Leary and Dalanda Ouendeno as the only women in the pits at the Daytona 500. Daniels quickly unscrews the lug nuts from the rims and replaces them with new ones as a tire changer. She also helps transport and clean the rims on race day.