Breaking Babe: Johanna Long, NASCAR’s Girl Next Door

Alliance Truck Parts 250 - Practice
Credit: Getty Images for NASCAR

A certain someone might get all the media attention, but there’s another female race car driver who’s breaking records and winning trophies. At 20, Johanna Long is the youngest to ever compete in NASCAR’s Nationwide Series, and in 2010 she won the coveted Snowball Derby. Yeah, it’s not the Daytona 500, but Danica Patrick blew it yesterday, so there’s still a chance Johanna might be the first lady to… well… first.

We spoke with her about keeping up with the male competition, and how guys’ automotive ignorance is a major turnoff. She’s more sweetheart than badass, but that’s OK with us.

How’d you get into racing?

My dad raced when I was a little girl, so I started racing in go-karts when I was eight years old. I tried ballet and soccer and everything else, but I always wanted to go fast. I moved up the ranks from there and never looked back… I did the stock cars when I was 13 years old, and then moved up to NASCAR when I turned 18.

NASCAR is such a macho culture. Is it tough to match the guys’ aggressiveness?

You have to walk around like you have swag for sure, because if you don’t, you’re gonna get run over. I feel like all the guys understand that I’ve won races, I’ve won championships and I belong here just like they do. Yeah, I’m a girl with long hair, but when you’re on the track–once you put on the helmet–you’re just like them. I can mix it up and be just as aggressive as they are.

So if a guy wants to date a racer girl, what’s some advice?

Drive a stick-shift. I used to date a guy who didn’t know how to drive stick, so I was pretty much just driving him around. That was a little different for me.

Feed The Children 300
Credit: Getty Images for NASCAR

Could you not respect a guy who doesn’t drive as fast as you do?

I could respect him–I’d just have to teach him!

Danica’s dating a fellow driver. Is that your type too?

I can’t see the future, but I don’t see that in my near future. I’m so focused on my career right now, so I’ll get to [relationships] when the time comes.

Do you have any rivalries with other drivers?

No… I might wreck someone, or someone might wreck me, but you talk about it, you get over it and you move on to the next one. I don’t really carry grudges.

What’s a big misconception about racing?

Working out is a big part of it. A lot of people don’t think so, but you have to be physically in shape to run these things–especially in the heat. You can definitely feel the Gs in the car, and on a banked track your body just weighs down at the corners… If you get tired or your arms get tired or something gives out, you’re done.

Do you think there will ever be an all-female NASCAR league, or would that be as lame as the WNBA?

I think that would be pretty lame, ’cause there are a lot of girls coming into the sport, and we can mix it up with the guys–we don’t need to separate ourselves.

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Marty Beckerman (@martybeckerman) is the Associate Editor of Guy Code Blog