Now that Danica Patrick has become the first woman in a century to win a major racing event after driving into the winner's circle at the Indy Japan 300, it's a sure bet that females will soon become a more common sight in racing.
But it didn't take Patrick's success on the track to interest Kristy Johnson, Point Rock, in the racing field. Kristy, a graduating senior in Alfred State College's motorsports program, has known for years that she wanted to work in the exciting world of speed and performance.
Born into a family of NASCAR fans and possessing an inherent inclination toward cars and racing, it seemed only natural that Kristy attend the Adirondack Central School BOCES where she indulged and nurtured her love of all things car-related as she studied automotive technology. But Kristy had other aspirations as well. A naturally beautiful young woman, Kristy was also interested in a career in modeling. As she enrolled in Alfred State College to pursue her car dreams, it seemed as if the two might be mutually exclusive.
As she completed her senior year in motorsports, Kristy was approached by the daughter of one of her instructors, who invited her to try out for "Race Girls," an organization that markets race gear for fans, particularly women and children. The young women who work for Race Girls also hand out brochures, meet and greet people, and conduct the business of selling merchandise.
"It's a sort of public relations job," Kristy notes, "that allows me to travel to races on the weekends, where I can immerse myself in the culture of the sport and meet many of the ‘big-name' drivers."
The first race she attended as a Race Girl was in Bristol, TN. "Although my folks aren't keen on all the traveling, [Kristy drives south for each race], they are fully supportive of my taking advantage of this opportunity, which combines the best of the two careers I love."
Recently, following a weekend in Martinsville, VA, Kristy recounts: "Although the days are long, we are also able to wander the tracks and watch the races. I even met Brian Vickers and AJ Almendinger!" she says with just a tinge of awe.
"This is a great opportunity for me to meet the people who can hire me to work on the race cars," she adds.
"I'm rebuilding a Camaro right now," says Kristy with pride. "I love race cars-the roll cages, and performance on the track rather than drag racing on the street."
Kristy, who plans to return to Alfred State College next fall to take auto body repair classes, says that she'd like to spend a few years in North Carolina working on race cars-whether in the pit or in the shop, but her ultimate goal is to open a restoration shop where she can take apart every bit of a car and put it back together in better shape.
Seeing how Kristy's eyes light up when she talks about engines and body work, it's evident that she has found her niche and that when she lands that first racing job, Kristy will hit the ground running.