By Claire Zillman
November 14, 2017

Race car driver Julia Landauer’s ultimate goal is to make it to Nascar’s highest level. But there’s another box she’d like to tick along the way.

“Imagine if there was a tampon on the side of the race car—and the guys are chasing the tampon car,” Landauer, now in NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series (three tiers below the premiere Cup Series), said at the Fortune MPW Next Gen Summit in Laguna, Nigel, Calif. on Tuesday.

“We’re working on it.”

Landauer, who at 14 became the first female champion in the 31-year history of the storied Skip Barber Series, painted an amusing picture, but she was also after a larger point: that feminine brands are largely absent from the world of racing, even though a large portion of fans are women. Indeed, data show that about 37% of Nascar’s fan base is female, and it’s thought that women—in cars and in the stands—could be the key to boosting Nascar’s slumping TV ratings and live attendance.

Landauer sees “lots of opportunity” for female-focused brands like beauty companies and feminine hygiene product manufacturers in the sport’s ad and sponsorship space.

“There’s a huge group of people not being catered to,” she said. “It’s fascinating that we don’t see that kind of femininity in the sport.”

Racing offers a particularly unique landscape when it comes to gender because men and women compete with one another directly. (Interestingly enough, that’s why Landauer, a 2014 Stanford grad and one-time Survivor contestant, got into the sport; her parents wanted an activity all their children could participate in.)

“Racing is actually where you are on equal footing,” Landauer said. The sport is technical. It’s not about brute physical strength, meaning men and women are more equally-matched.

As such, female drivers—Landauer included—want to be the best overall.

“Not the best female,” she said, “there are only a few of us so that’s not that impressive.”

 

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