Christmas Abbott Breaking Barriers While Helping to Grow NASCAR Among Women

Mark Staffieri@@MarkStaff100Contributor IIMay 4, 2013

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Image obtained from:

As a member of the Michael Waltrip Racing team, Christmas Abbott is bringing new exposure to women in NASCAR. While Danica Patrick made her own history in 2013 by capturing the pole at the Daytona 500, Abbott became the only female full-time member of a NASCAR pit crew.

While the pit crew is comprised of unsung heroes in auto racing of all forms, Abbott has helped bring exposure and much-deserved recognition. Working in Clint Bowyer's pit, the 5’3” spitfire from Lynchburg, Virginia is a marvel, lifting tires almost half her weight.

She has been able to change two tires weighing 60 pounds each and is working towards an astounding time frame of 12 total seconds.  As she advised the Sporting News, she is working as a pit crew member because it is something she enjoys.

Prior to working with the Waltrip Racing crew, she worked in the pit crew in the Camping World Truck Series. The experience of changing tires for female driver Jennifer Jo Cobb provided her with the confidence to succeed in a high stress environment.

It was highly fitting that she paid her dues while working for a female driver. Of all the major sports, auto racing is the one field where women have a reasonable opportunity to compete against men. While women like Lynn St. James and Danica Patrick laid the foundation, Abbott is just as relevant.

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In many areas of the United States, NASCAR is more popular than professional sports such as baseball and hockey. While it may have been seen as a man’s domain, Abbott’s mental and physical toughness may not just lead to an increase in younger women watching NASCAR, but aspiring to work in it someday.

For an individual with a unique determination like Abbott, it merely scratches the surface of her remarkable and driven personality. With a gun tattooed on her hip, it serves as a reminder of her days working in Iraq. Working alongside her mother, the two were general contractors in a military laundry zone. Despite working grueling 12-hour days in difficult conditions, the time spent in Iraq transformed her life.

While in Iraq, a United States soldier introduced Abbott to the concept of CrossFit. It was an exercise regimen with various disciplines, all done in short sequences with maximum effort. CrossFit would set Abbott on the course towards changing her life.

Upon her return to the United States, she opened her own CrossFit center in North Carolina. Not only did she become a Head Trainer (for CrossFit Level 1 seminars), but she would also compete in the various competitions. As a member of Team CrossFit Invoke, she is part of the Mid-Atlantic Region.

Her skills in CrossFit speak for themselves. She can Clean & Jerk 175 pounds, deadlift a remarkable 255 pounds and conduct a back squat of 225 pounds. All the figures are more than her body weight of 115 pounds.

The introduction to NASCAR came through her experiences in CrossFit. Ted Bullard (with Turner Motorsports) had been looking to recruit a female pit crew member. Astonished by the remarkable strength of women in CrossFit, Bullard was prompted by CrossFit to hold a talent search. With various women looking to showcase their skills, Abbott emerged as the strongest candidate.

In working on a pit crew in NASCAR, Abbott has provided encouragement to other women that aspired for such a job but never had the motivation to try it. Abbott’s groundbreaking work would be the equivalent of a woman serving on the coaching staff for a baseball or football team. Her hard work as a NASCAR pit crew member is helping to show young woman that anything is possible.

Quickly emerging as a pop culture phenomenon, a sex symbol and an inspiration, the 31-year-old Abbott is a testament to the values of dedication and hard work. With her impact, Abbott was featured on HBO’s Real Sports and was also featured as a model in the periodical Inked Magazine. Suddenly, Abbott’s popularity is in the same stratosphere as Danica Patrick on the NASCAR circuit.

In a brief period of time, Abbott has emerged as one of an increasing number of role models for young women in sports. The most unique feature about Abbott is the fact that she is not looking for special treatment because she is a woman. Having broken barriers, her biggest challenge may be handling her newfound fame.