NASCAR pit crew members are a rare breed. They’ve got to be seriously strong, crazy fast, precision-minded and able to endure long hours in hot, chaotic conditions. And until now, they were all guys. Enter Christmas Abbott, a petite but powerful crossfit champion and former Olympic weightlifting trainer who recently became the first female to dare to brave the crew pit.
Several celebrated women have slipped behind the wheel to compete on the tracks – most notably Danica Patrick, who earlier this month became the first woman ever to claim the Spring Cup pole at the Daytona 500. But Abbott, a 5’3″, 115-pound blonde beauty, is the first to join a NASCAR pit crew. Defying the odds – and the whispered bets that she won’t make it a full season – Abbott inked a deal to serve on the NASCAR crew pit, changing tires for driver Jennifer Jo Cobb in the Camping World Truck Series. Her job involves whipping around the No. 10 Ford with an air gun in hand, unbolting five lug nuts, ripping a 60-pound tire off the car, bolting on a new one and doing it all one more time – all in 12 seconds or less.
While the idea is enough to make many women cringe and head for the day spa, for Abbott, it’s a walk in the park. After all, she’s been in far more daunting situations, and she started early. At age 10, she joined her neighborhood boys’ baseball team, much to the chagrin of her teammates and only after her mother’s threat to bring the local media to tryouts if her precocious preteen wasn’t given a fair shot.
“They chucked the ball at me,” she recalls with a laugh. “A lot.”
At 22, she again defied the gender odds, following her mother, a general contractor, to Baghdad. She spent her days at a military laundry center smack dab in the center of a war zone, sorting fatigues stained with desert sand, sweat and blood. She worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week and dodged IEDs (improvised explosive device) in the roadways. But it was there that she was introduced to crossfit and set out on a physical regime that would make her a celebrity in the fitness world and later catch the attention of NASCAR exec Ted Bullard. He invited her to try out for the crew pit gig and the rest is history in the making – though Abbott has no delusions that success will come easy.
“NASCAR fans are die-hard and they will call out your B.S.,” said Abbott, who sports a tattoo of a gun on her hip to remind her of her days in Iraq and reportedly is in talks with Hollywood execs about a reality TV show. “I want to go to the highest level.”
E3 Spark Plugs congratulates Abbott on her history-making achievement. We’re watching and expecting major success!