Christmas Abbott: NASCAR Pit Crew Member Strengthens Female Presence in Racing

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIIFebruary 24, 2013

Feb 24, 2013; Daytona Beach, FL, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series crew member Christmas Abbott before the 2013 Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Christmas Abbott's inking of a deal to be a pit crew member in NASCAR's Camping World Truck Series is yet another landmark development for women in the racing industry. Not only does her emergence strengthen the presence of women in the sport, but it also appears to be a surfacing trend.

Danica Patrick's groundbreaking grabbing of the pole position for Sunday's Daytona 500 has been in the headlines, since it is the first time that a woman has started No. 1 in any Sprint Cup Series race.

Even the driver that Abbott will be changing front tires for full-time is a woman—Jennifer Jo Cobb. But while there have been several females racing at the highest levels, never has one gotten her way onto a pit crew.

This high-risk job is not for the light of heart or the indecisive, and Abbott appears to have the chops to stand and deliver.

And it might not be long until Abbott gets to the highest level herself in the Sprint Cup series. She will be in the heat of competition on Sunday at Daytona International Speedway, shadowing the Michael Waltrip Racing crew, according to a piece by Eric Adelson of Yahoo!

At 5'3" and 115 pounds, Abbott is in outstanding physical shape and has the muscle to handle her duties on the crew. Incredibly, the massive truck tires she'll be changing will weigh approximately 60 pounds—more than half of her body weight.

That is a testament to how strong and courageous Abbott is to take this on, and Adelson reports she can lift a 70-pound barbell and let it rest on her shoulders with no problems. She also squats 255 pounds.

Her garage is filled with auto parts, and Abbott has lug nuts on her kitchen counter. To say that she is dedicated is an understatement.

Abbott's background is rather diverse, though. She left three jobs to take this one, and has a tattoo of a gun on her hip in remembrance of the time she spent serving in the military in Iraq.

After a rather rebellious teenage phase that almost ended before it began due to a car accident at age 13, Abbott followed her mother to Baghdad when she was 22. She worked in a military laundry center in a war zone, 12 hours a day, seven days per week.

It was there that her drive to get into shape began, after she caught on to a workout that one of the soldiers told her about known as CrossFit. It's essentially P90X times 10.

When a CrossFit video she posted was seen by Ted Bullard of Turner Motorsports, Abbott was given a shot to join the pit crew and succeeded. Bullard believes that Christmas, like Patrick, will transcend NASCAR.

She now owns CrossFit Invoke in Raleigh, N.C., and needless to say, you have to bring it if you want to hang with Abbott in her gym.

The story that Adelson paints of Abbott makes her somewhat of a folk hero-type figure. That sort of world experience and the mental and physical strength she will display if she's successful in this latest interesting venture will be a historic high point for women.

By integrating herself into the sport as a non-driver, it could very well serve as an inspiration to others who may have been held back by gender, since obviously men have traditionally dominated racing.

Pit crewing isn't supposed to be a woman's job, but then again, Abbott is no ordinary woman.


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