Brehanna Daniels and Dalanda Ouendeno are two women breaking barriers in the male-dominated sport of auto racing.
When asked if they understand the impact they’re having on the sport, Daniels said, “We’re still realizing it.”
Ouendeno added, “Yeah, it’s hard to realize that. Looking at how other people react to us makes me realize more.”
Daniels became the first Black woman pit crew member in 2017. Ouendeno now joins her as the first foreign-born Black woman. They pit together as tire changers for NASCAR’s Xfinity Series.
“Do you remember that Daytona 500 day? I was really emotional,” Daniels said.
“I saw her crying and being emotional and I’m like, what’s wrong with you? Come on, we got to perform,” said Ouendeno.
Both are former college athletes who knew nothing about NASCAR until they were recruited by NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program. It’s designed to provide driver and pit crew training opportunities for woman and minorities.
“Not a car girl at all. I changed a race car tire before I changed my own car tire,” said Daniels.
“I’m from Paris, so trains and buses are really common. So, you don’t need a car. You can live without a car,” said Ouendeno.
But now they say they are along for the ride and they aren’t the only ones. Breanna O’Leary is also a NASCAR tire changer. The three are speeding past barriers.
“We have to really be on our game and work 10 times harder than the next person. It’s never easy,” Daniels said.
“Sometimes when I go home bruised and hurt, I think maybe, maybe it’s for the guys. But it’s also really rewarding at the end of the day,” Ouendeno said.
They’re proving to anyone who had a doubt that women are capable of doing the job.
Daniels and Ouendeno both say they hope to inspire more women to be a part of the sport.