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Julia Landauer Bringing Survival Skills to NASCAR

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Former Survivor castoff @julialandauer has taken her survival skills to the world of stock car racing.

Last year, the 24-year-old from New York City persevered in the ultra-competitive Limited Sportsman division at Motor Mile Speedway and became a championship driver. Now, Landauer is hoping to survive, and thrive, in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West tour, where she will compete for Bill McAnally Racing.

Landauer actually credits what she learned on the popular CBS Television reality show for making her a better, more persistent driver.

“With Survivor, I wanted to shoot it because I’m a competitive person and the challenge was really cool. My racing was a little slow at the time because I was in college. I got the opportunity to do it and knew I had to do it,” Landauer said. “I knew it challenged people mentally and physically and I wanted to push myself farther than I ever have before. It was incredibly difficult.

“I had never been so physically uncomfortable and had to deal with so many characters I didn’t like. It put me in an uncomfortable position the entire time I was on the show and it made me resilient and pushed my perseverance. You don’t know your limits until you push them. It was helpful for racing in terms of mindset and never give up mentality.”

The never give up mentality had to be carried over to racing, when Landauer competed in Limited Late Models at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Virginia last year. Teamed up with three-time NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion Lee Pulliam, Landauer had immediate success but a mid-season penalty set her back.

After a wild race in late June, every single car that rolled through post-race technical inspection, including Landauer, was disqualified, shuffling up the points standings.

“That was a nightmare,” Landauer remarked. “We had a little incident with the lapped car. That one was really challenging. I thought, ‘I lost my championship dream, we can’t do it,’ then we looked at it mathematically and figured out we could do it. Lee and I were very optimistic and positive and kept pushing and hit everything perfectly.

“It was great teamwork. They had faith in me and I had faith in them and we maximized our performance. I knew I deserved it. I need it is really what was driving me. When you’re in the zone, nothing else matters.”

Racing for one of Late Model Stock Car racing’s greats was beneficial for Landauer in many ways. Not only did she have great cars, but the two had chemistry and worked well together.

“Working with Lee (Pulliam) and the entire team was so beneficial for a couple reasons,” Landauer explained. “I learned more about the cars and setup and how to do everything mechanical, so that was cool. It was great to see a champion’s mindset and what his thought process was.

“Because Lee is closer to my age, closer than any other team owner I had, it was the first time I felt like I was one of the guys and didn’t feel being a woman had impact on my performance. The fact that they treated me helped me. They yelled at me when I didn’t do well and praised me when I did to well. I couldn’t have asked for a better setup for 2015. There’s no better equipment out there.”

Despite being in great equipment, winning the first race of the season wasn’t the expectation anyone had for Landauer, not to mention winning the championship. After all, no woman had ever won a race at the ultra-competitive Motor Mile Speedway and only one woman had ever won a Late Model championship in the Southeast when Haley Moody won a championship at Southern National Motorsports Park the year before.

However, Landauer is more than just a pretty face showing up to race on raceday. Landauer holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Bachelors in Science, Technology and Society from the prestigious Stanford University. Landauer is mechanically savvy and smooth in the racecar.

“Winning the first race exceeded my expectations,” Landauer stated. “Once I knew I could do it, I reset my standards and wanted to win races and the championship. I learned I was capable I was doing well so that elevated the bar of wanting to do well.”

Landauer went on to do more than just win races. She would rebound from the mid-season penalty with two victories in August which allowed her to complete the comeback and win the Motor Mile Speedway track championship. Even more impressive is that she did it against some very tough competition.

“I think the fact that the competitors were so hard and so tough made me elevate my game,” Landauer remarked. “Between Scott Lancaster, Karl Budzevski, Daryn Cockram and Preston McGhee, they gave me a really hard time and if I was gonna get it, I was gonna have to elevate my game and push back. I have to thank them for getting tougher. Even at the end with Ryan Repko, he did super well so he was really a threat at the end there. It was really cool to battle with those guys cleanly for the most part too.”

Landauer’s racing background is more than just Late Models. She’s been racing since she was 10 – competing in go-karts, the Skip Barber racing series where she won a championship, Formula BMW, USAC Midgets and Legends. In fact, she has raced for Bill McAnally in the past – the team she is reuniting with to compete in the full NASCAR K&N Pro Series West schedule.

“2015 proves a lot of momentum moving forward,” Lanauer commented. “2016 in the West Series is going to be exceptionally difficult. People will have more seat time and experience but I feel I am capable of being a champion and winning. Racing with Bill McAnally racing, they were champions last year so I’m confident I’ll be able to do well and my expectation is to win this season.”

If Landauer continues to surpass expectations, she might reach her ultimate goal in the coming years – which is to compete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

“Like all my competitors, my dream is to get to the Sprint Cup Series so I’m going to keep taking the steps I need to take to get there.”

Landauer will make her NASCAR K&N Pro Series West debut when the series opens its season at Irwindale Speedway in California on March 19th.


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Andy Marquis is the Editor and Content Manager for the Late Model Stock Car racing website, Marquis has numerous years of journalistic experience from politics to racing.