Sure, it’s been nearly 600 days since Julia Landauer last competed in a competitive automobile race, but the New York-native is excited to write a new chapter of her racing career when she makes her NASCAR Xfinity Series debut in this weekend’s Crayon 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
For Landauer, her racing career is a story she had started to think had drawn to a close.
“When it comes to racing, it’s been about 18 months or so since I had a competitive race back in the Euro[NASCAR 2] Series. So, it was something where I wondered if this was something that I could actually say goodbye to,” Landauer admitted in an exclusive interview with TobyChristie.com. “I have been working hard to get into the National Series for years now, but I was really struggling. When I got this opportunity, I became so excited.”
The 30-year old racer explained that the opportunity to drive a Chevrolet Camaro for Alpha Prime Racing started to really seem like a realistic option just a couple of months ago.
“This one, it really looked like it was really starting to come together in May and that’s when I started to shift my mindset to, okay, this can happen,” Landauer said. “Basically, since the end of May, it’s been full steam ahead with training with car prep with getting everything ready for the sponsors. It’s been quite busy and exciting and nerve-racking. I’m thrilled the weekend is finally here and I can just focus on the driving.”
Instrumental to Landauer making her first-career NXS start are her sponsors for the race — Boss Beauties and Garage XYZ, which are NFT communities that reward the holders of their NFTs with unique experiences.
“My sponsors are Boss Beauties and Garage XYZ, they’ve built communities, where they provide other value to people who are part of the community and buy the NFTs,” Landauer explained. “They’re done on the blockchain, you need crypto, but GarageXYZ bring their holders to races like Forumla 1 at COTA, LeMans, and the Indy 500. Boss Beauties give scholarships and mentoring and various events for their holders. It’s really, really cool.”
While NFTs are what makes her sponsorship work, it’s the deep-woven communities that her sponsors have built that take things to another level, which provides her with a community that will actually be cheering her on.
“It’s really cool to be the first NASCAR driver sponsored by NFT communities,” Landauer stated with pride. “I think it makes it bigger than just a driver and a sponsor. There is a whole community of thousands of people who are then rooting for this driver.”
With a long layoff between her last competitive racing start, what has Landauer been doing to prepare for her first NASCAR National Series start? Answer: literally everything.
“I have been doing a lot of stuff from physical training from PitFit and my trainer Trey Shannon. With neurological training, strength training, visual and depth perception training,” Landauer detailed. “I’ve been doing a lot of heat training, because I’ve been hearing the Xfinity cars are really hot. I’ve been watching old races, I’ve been doing simulator work. Really trying to do as much as I can.”
Of course, when Landauer’s NXS debut was announced in June, there were some social media detractors that wondered if her credentials warranted running in the series.
“It’s interesting, because I’ve seen some comments. People will say, ‘Oh, I’ve never heard of you,’ and it’s like, well just because you didn’t do you research and don’t know my background doesn’t mean I’m not qualified,” Landauer emphasized. “I think the reality is this is a sport that requires funding, and you need a lot of funding to go racing. I have two championships and dozens of wins. The highest finish American in the Euro Series. I’m not really worried about the nay-sayers because I only have so much attention and I don’t think it should go there.”
While Landauer may not be worried about the nay-sayers, it is worth noting that while she may be a new name for some race fans that only follow the NASCAR National Series ranks, Landauer has a long history of competing in NASCAR International divisions as well as what is now known as the ARCA Menards Series West.
In 2016, Landauer racked up seven top-five finishes in 14 starts in the West Series, which earned her a fourth-place finish in the year-end championship standings. That year, now-NASCAR Cup Series rookie, Todd Gilliland took home the West Series championship, while NASCAR Xfinity Series star Noah Gragson finished one spot ahead of Landauer in the standings in third.
Notable full-time drivers in the West Series that season that finished below her in the standings were current NASCAR National Series competitors Riley Herbst, Blaine Perkins and Jesse Iwuji.
While her West Series experience was impressive, it was in Landauer’s 2018 and 2019 NASCAR Pinty’s Series where she competed in two races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The prior experience gained at the 1.058-mile flat oval will allow Landauer to focus on learning the NASCAR Xfinity Series race car this weekend, rather than worrying about learning a race track as well as a new car.
“Luckily, I’ve been at New Hampshire before, I know the visuals. I know the track,” Landauer said. “So, I’ll primarily be learning this new car on the track.”
While she will be attempting to learn a brand new car, Landauer finds comfort in working with Alpha Prime Racing, a team headed up by long-time underdog racer Tommy Joe Martins and Caesar Bacarella. Like Landauer, Martins and Alpha Prime Racing have clawed for everything they have, currently.
“It’s been great. I feel like we have a lot of similarities in that regard. Kind of right there at the cusp, having to work hard and having to be scrappy. What we’ve all had to do,” Landauer says of Alpha Prime. “It’s been great. I’ve been at the shop a lot, I have been able to get to know the guys. I went to New Hampshire just to stay with the team and see what the whole weekend was like. So, I’m really excited. They understand this is a big learning curve for me, and they’ve been quite patient. I’m excited to get back on track and learn from them and get a good finish.”
Landauer says that her realistic goal for the weekend would be a lead lap finish, and she would love to finish the event with an 18th to 20th-place finish. Anything better than that would be an absolute bonus.
If the debut is successful, could we see her in some more NASCAR Xfinity Series races this season?
“I am cautiously optimistic that we will be getting some more races this year,” Landauer admitted. “Yeah.”
Landauer, who wears a lot of different hats in life, as she is a motivational speaker, and was a former contestant on the television show Survivor, is getting a second lease on her racing career and she is primed and ready to make the most of it.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series Crayon 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway is set for Saturday, July 16th at 2:30 PM ET and will be televised on USA Network.