Julia Landauer, ready for racing. Photo courtesy of Emily Dehn Knight.Enlarge Photo
Just one glance at the young racer and you'd see the determination, focus, and poise this talent has to be a great driver in the stock car ranks. What may surprise you is that she's originally from New York City, which might not be the first place most fans would think of as far as racing goes.
However, Julia's got all the passion and soul of yesteryear's heroes with a focus that's a bit similar to that of Leilani Munter, with both racers sharing a passion for the outdoors and environment. Not to mention, they also have the need for speed!
Julia's journey into racing is an interesting one, which is almost like climbing up the proverbial racing ladder to success. With great support from her family through every step of her career, she's tackling her greatest journey yet -- a transition from the open-wheel and sports car ranks to NASCAR racing.
If one needs to wonder about her potential in the stock car level, consider this: she captured a Skip Barber Region Series title at the age of 14, becoming the first female to accomplish that feat. Certainly, she's not afraid to mix it up with the best drivers in any circuit she competes at, with her knowledge and experience in various vehicles paving the way to her success throughout her career.
I interviewed Julia via e-mail recently and caught up with South Boston Speedway's newest late model racer. Taking the time out of her busy schedule, I found Julia be to a very pleasant interviewee, as she's very friendly, detailed, and candid about her experiences as a racer.
Also, you can tell she hasn't forgotten about the very people who've helped her along the way, which makes Julia Landauer quite the likeable racer for those looking for a new talent to follow in racing.
So ladies and gentlemen, strap up your seatbelts and start your engines, because we'll be going "In the Driver's Seat with Julia Landauer, NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Racer!"
Rob Tiongson : Looking at your bio on your official website, it seems like you caught the need for speed rather quickly. Tell the racing fans here how you caught the motorsports bug --- did you have any particular idols or inspirations that propelled you into a racing career?
Julia Landauer : I was blessed with having parents who were (and still are) racing enthusiasts. I’ve always played with toy cars and have always showed an interest in racing, and when I was ten, my family and I went to Oakland Valley Race Park, about two hours outside of the city, and started racing as a family.
Originally it was my younger sister and I racing, with my folks being the crew team, then when my brother was old enough he joined us. It was a family sport where girls and boys competed on the same field, we got a technical background from working on the karts, and we got to work with adults.
I loved racing from the start and started winning pretty quickly, so it really started from there. I knew from about age 11 that I would always need to be involved with racing; it’s an addiction and it seemed natural to fully devote myself to racing.
RT : You’re originally from New York City, which isn’t exactly the racing Mecca for most drivers or folks who embark in auto racing, yet here you are, now a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racer. Would you consider it a long journey or a one that’s been fast and unbelievable to be where you are at age 19?
JL : It’s been a lengthy journey for sure, and it’s only just getting started! I began in go-karts at age 10, raced in my first car race at 13, won the Skip Barber Regional Series at age 14, raced the former Formula BMW USA at 15, Ford Focus Midgets with Bob East in Indiana at age 16, and I started racing select late model races at age 17 in California and have continued here at South Boston.
I’ve been very fortunate to have experience in various forms of racing, all while finishing high school and attending my first year of college, which was a deal I struck with my parents; they agreed to support me as much as they could on every level if I finished high school in school, as opposed to home-school, and completed one year of college. It’s been really busy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
RT : On June 18th, you started your very first NASCAR race with the Sellers Racing team, one of the top stables at South Boston Speedway, finishing 18th. For those out there who have never turned a lap in a racecar or around this track, describe the thrill you had just even getting out there for your first qualifying session.
Julia Landauer standing by her No. 70 NASCAR late model at South Boston Speedway.JL : This is such a great track. It has good speed, the two ends of the track are uniquely challenging, and the racing is incredibly close.
Julia Landauer standing by her No. 70 NASCAR late model at South Boston Speedway.Enlarge Photo
Getting out there for qualifying with the sticker tires means extreme grip, and you can really throw the car into the corner and carry a lot of speed, more so than in the race.
Adding competitors on the track during the race introduces a different exhilarating factor, and you need to be on your toes. It’s really rough racing and people will race you hard, but it’s the best kind of action-packed racing.
RT : I know your first race didn’t go quite as well as you wanted it, but what things did you learn in the event that you’ll apply in the upcoming races there? Any teammates that you’ve gotten the chance to mingle with?
I learned so much, as it should be. It had been 11 months since I last raced, so it was a bit of an uphill battle for the first race. We’ve sorted out several mechanical issues with the car and I’ve reviewed my notes a lot from my performance at the last race. These first couple of races will be getting back in the saddle, but I’m definitely ready for this July 1st race!
RT : Not only are you competing in South Boston Speedway, but you’re also taking up Communications and Engineering at Stanford University. How do you balance school and racing in your life?
JL : Balancing college with racing is a totally new challenge! High school was one thing, but being in California and taking college courses makes for a very demanding schedule. It meant that I didn’t get seat time during the school year, but I built up my racing team, Julia Landauer Racing, LLC, did a lot of physical training, made many great connections both at school and in Charlotte, and now that I’m on summer break I can focus primarily on racing.
My goal is to incorporate school and racing, and I’m really interested in green technology and applying it to racing as well as the entire automotive industry. I work with various professors at school to come up with different green initiatives that racing can use to decrease its negative environmental impact. So I manage to squeeze racing into schoolwork, which is awesome.