Christmas Abbott hired by Michael Waltrip Racing
Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013
Teammate Tim Morrison, her front tire carrier, congratulates Christmas Abbott at the end of her first outing as a front tire changer. He has worked with her in practice for the past 2 months and have developed a good rhythm together. "I think she did better today than at our practices," he said. "She was extra focused. She didn't seem nervous or scared. In this job, you don't have time to be scared." (Corey Lowenstein - email@example.com)
Christmas Abbott, 30, sprints around the front end of a moving race car to start removing the front end tires. (Corey Lowenstein - firstname.lastname@example.org)
Christmas Abbott, 30, keeps things light during a quieter stretch of her pit crew training. Corey Lowenstein -- email@example.com
Christmas Abbott, 30, uses a kettlebell weight during a workout at her CrossFit facility in downtown Raleigh on July 25, 2012. The following week she packed and moved to Charlotte to begin training as a NASCAR pit crew front tire changer. Since her relocation, she continues to own and run the facility with her business partner remotely. Corey Lowenstein -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Christmas Abbott gives instruction during a session at her CrossFit Invoke facility in Raleigh, N.C. Corey Lowenstein -- email@example.com
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. For one aspiring NASCAR pit crew member, Christmas came a little later than usual.
Or it may have come a little faster than anticipated.
Christmas Abbott, an elite-level fitness athlete whose journey to become a fulltime pit crew member has been well-chronicled, saw her dream come true this week.
Three days after Danica Patrick became the first woman to win a pole in a Sprint Cup Series race, Michael Waltrip Racing announced it had hired Abbott as a fulltime pit crew member for its Cup operation.
Abbott, 31, will be a weekend warrior with MWR, traveling to all Cup events in a pit support role. Her long-term goal is to go over the wall as a tire changer.
Right now, Abbott would be the only woman in NASCAR employed as a fulltime pit crew member.
This is just the first step for me, she said. Ive been training for several months. This is the most challenging thing I have ever done.
Im here to do whatever my coaches ask of me, and I dont want any handouts. Im ready to work three races a weekend if thats what it takes to get me where I want to be.
Im in this for the long haul.
At 5-foot-3 and 115 pounds, Abbott doesnt look much like any of the other over-the-wall pit crew members.
There have been women pit crew members in some lower level NASCAR series, including an all-female pit crew that was put together as a publicity stunt to help generate a sponsor for some Truck series races for another woman driver, Shawna Robinson, in 2003.
Otherwise, when it has come to NASCARs premier series, strength issues have tended to curtail the involvement of women on over-the-wall pit crews.
MWRs pit coaches said they had seen enough development from Abbott to name her to the MWR travel squad.
Abbott will be on hand Thursday with MWR for the two 150-mile qualifying races at Daytona International Speedway and will likely gauge tires for Clint Bowyers No. 15 Toyota team.
MWR team co-owner Michael Waltrip called Abbott an incredible elite athlete.
She has worked with our crews by bringing some cross-fit elements to their workouts. She is a competitor and when she decided to start working towards an over-the-wall position, we said we are the perfect place to make it happen, he said.
As Danica has seen, it takes a lot of work and dedication to get to the top level of her trade. With her Daytona 500 pole, it seems so much of that work has been worth it.
I believe the same can hold true for Christmas. We expect her to excel or we wouldnt commit the position to her.