Meet Toni Breidinger, NASCAR’s First Female Arab Driver
Twenty-one-year-old Toni Breidinger has made history at such a young age. The racing world’s rising star is a native of Hillsborough, California, and has cemented her name in USAC with 19 victories.
When Toni Breidinger fell in love with racing with go-karts when she was nine years old, she never thought it would pave her career path. But now, the young racer is pushing herself to the biggest test of her career.
Breidinger’s mother is Lebanese, and her father is German American. According to the race car driver, her interest in the sport began when her father took her and her twin to race go-karts.
“He wasn’t trying to make anything come from it. But I just fell in love with it and so did my sister. So, we just started racing and traveling all over the country for races. Just from there climbing up the racing ladder.”
In her short time in the industry, the Lebanese-American has already shattered many stereotypes when it comes to Arab women. In the future, she hopes to become a positive role model for young women all over the world.
She set the record when she became the winningest race car female driver in the country. The California native has made a name for herself in the male-dominated sport when she made history in the Daytona International Speedway. Although she placed 18 out of 33 competitors, she led two other women race car drivers. Only 10 females are racing in NASCAR in this season – a far cry from the 150 men joining the same race.
“There really isn’t that many women, especially. There are different series in NASCAR and as you go up to the higher series there are fewer and fewer women,” shared the driver.
Big Time Sponsors
According to Toni, one of the greatest challenges in entering the 29 races of the competition is the financial costs it requires.
“Racing is an expensive sport as I am sure many people can imagine. It’s hard to get sponsorship. And I feel like some people might not take you as seriously, especially just like manufacturers.”
Breidinger is set to compete in five big races in September, but to get through the competition, she would need to join more.
Thankfully, Toni has signed a sponsorship deal with Huda Beauty, owned by beauty mogul Huda Kattan. The company has shared in an Instagram post that they are in awe of Toni’s accomplishments, and they love that she is celebrating her roots and helping to shine a light on how important cultural representation and women empowerment is.
Her other brand sponsors include Kim Kardashian’s SKIMS, Bell Helmets, Sunny D, Head and Shoulders, Sparco, and Tory Burch.
“Companies that have just been around for a while may not take you seriously and it is just kind of hard to gain their respect and reassure them that you can go out there and win and do your part on that. It’s definitely has been a little bit of a challenge. We’re working towards hopefully racing in a full season. Right now, we just committed to 10 races. We are working hard to get that sponsorship to race in a full season,” she shared.
Unique Approach to Racing
Some fans may think that with the amount of pressure on her hands, she has trouble not letting it get through her head. However, Toni admitted that she has never felt scared during a race.
“It’s an adrenaline rush for sure. You are less than an inch off the cars around you going 180 miles per hour. You are an inch off the wall. It’s intense. Everybody is trying as hard as they can to win. It’s definitely a very intense atmosphere. But I have never been scared during a race. I am just always so focused.”
Cars Don’t Know Gender
Toni is not looking through the world with rose-colored glasses. She knows her journey will be tough, but she believes that cars don’t know gender. As long as she gets behind the wheel, she has a fighting chance.
“A lot of people ask me are you going to get married or have kids anytime soon? I’m like, no, I just want to race cars.”
Considering her skills and drive to succeed, this is just the beginning for Toni.