NASCAR: Toni Breidinger

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NASCAR driver Toni Breidinger Wikipedia Commons

A new day for NASCAR

It has been an exciting time in the world of NASCAR racing! History was made this Family Day long weekend as Toni Breidinger competed in her first ever debut at Daytona International Speedway. Why is this important? Breidinger is the first ever Arab-American female driver to ever compete in a NASCAR national series!

The first ever time a female athlete competed in a NASCAR race all the way back in 1949 with Sara Christian. Fast forward to present day and we still are watching strong women bust through the gate and onto the scene. So many barriers are continuing to be broken down by racers like Breidinger and her astonishing debut has opened up the conversation for multicultural and female athletes to consider NASCAR as a real opportunity in the present day. This is a lot for a young 21-year-old racer to take on, but it hasn’t been a problem as she continues to keep her eyes on her goal and remains grateful.

During various interviews conducted along with tweets that she sent out from her account @ToniBreidinger, she was very modest and humble about the situation. Stating that all herself and her team wanted was to finish the race and to stay out of trouble. After completing those two goals, the realization of what she has been able to accomplish began to sink in. The door has now been thrown open for Arab-American females to compete in NASCAR racing and will hopefully continue to translate into other sporting events as well. Breidinger is honoured to be the first of her people to compete and is hopeful that she will not be the last. She is hopeful that she has begun to pave the way for other female Arab-American drivers.

You may be wondering what led her to the Daytona opening. She was able to place 18th overall at the Lucas Oil 200 which is the precursor for the Daytona 500. This is not her only accomplishment, however. At the United States Auto Club she has won 19 times which is the most ever for a woman. As well in 2020 she finished in fourth place at the Carolina Pro Late Model Series with her racing team DLP Motorsports. She now competes in two of NASCAR’s top 4 series and is a force to be reckoned with.

Although, she is continuing to bust down barriers for her culture and for women alike it does not come without its challenges. The majority of her competition are white men, which proves to provide its own set of obstacles to navigate off the track. However, this is something that is easy to ignore once she is in the driver’s seat and ready to hit the track. Once the helmet goes on gender and race are no longer a problem and they are all just drivers after the same goal, to cross that finish line first.

If you are interested in following Beidinger on the rest of her amazing journey you can catch the highlights of her race on the Phoenix Raceway in Avondale where she will be competing in the Arizona Lottery 100 and is hoping to place in the top 15 overall.

Sarah Nakonechny

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