When you think of racecar drivers, what comes to mind? Men, mostly. And then along comes a female…but not just any female. Tia Norfleet is the first and only African-American female racecar driver to be licensed with NASCAR. That sets her apart as does her stunning beauty and racy figure which brings racecar driving apparel to higher ground.
Tia tells the world, “I’m all about empowerment and, at the same time, I want to grow into the woman that I want to be.” Tia not only embraces that philosophy on and off the track, she passionately communicates her message to young girls across the country. Tia was kind enough to answer some probing questions I posed to her recently.
Michelle: Since NASCAR is a virgin market for people of color, what is your overall plan to break the barrier and blaze a trail for others?
Tia: My plan is to do my best, be myself, and hope that someone somewhere is inspired by what I am doing. It is true that NASCAR is a virgin market for people of color. My goal is to educate and inspire people of color through this platform that I have been given. There are many jobs within motorsports. One could be an engineer, race car driver or marketing professional – whatever it is; there are plenty of opportunities within this sport.
Michelle: What is the image you want to portray in your marketing strategy and why?
Tia: Well, I would like to portray the image of me and who I am as a woman of strength. I have been through a lot in my life and have faced many doubters along the way. I am stronger because of the struggles that I have gone through. So, I would like to project an image of strength because you never know who is watching and who is living their life through yours.
Michelle: How do you respond when people minimize your ability as a woman to keep up in the competitive world of NASCAR?
Tia: When it comes to negative people, I repel negativity like a duck repels water off their back. I use this type of negativity as fuel to keep me going.
Michelle: Since you’re driving into territory that’s never been conquered by a woman, where do you gain your strength and fortitude from?
Tia: First of all, I derive my strength from God and it is renewed daily. I am inspired by so many different things. For example, I always keep in mind where my family has come from. I look at the sacrifices that my father has made to get me here. This has not and is not an easy road to take for any driver in this sport, but when fans show support, it inspires me. When my little sister looks at me, I know that I must do my best to be able to look back at her and say that you can do anything. A lot of people are depending on me so I believe in the concept, “To whom much is given much is required.”
Michelle: I know you celebrate the legacy of Wendell Scott, the only African-American man to win a NASCAR Spring Cup Series race. How does his legacy motivate you to race toward the finish line with gusto?
Tia: Wendell Scott did not get what was due to him for his accomplishments and since I race with his number, I want to make the number 34 as hot as the Jordan number 23. I want people to know that it was people like him who paved the way for people like me. This is always in the back of my mind.
Michelle: What do you want people to think and feel when they see #34?
Tia: I want people to look at the number 34 and see Faith, Desire, Passion and Strength. I want them to see it as a symbol of Determination.
Michelle: What challenges, both on and off the track, have you faced along the way?
Tia: I have faced the challenges of companies not wanting to get involved, which makes it difficult to compete in this expensive sport. I have faced people telling me along the way to leave this sport to the guys and just focus on my singing career and that I can’t be both a singer and driver. Again, this type of negativity only fuels me.
Michelle: What would you want ESPN or Fox Sports to say about you to their millions of viewers after a race?
Tia: Tia Norfleet is a fierce competitor and if you don’t know her now, you will know her.
To find out more about Tia Norfleet, contact her Publicist, Guernica Williams The Platinum Marketing & Public Relations Group, Inc. at [email protected]