Ever wondered what it’s like to be a female driver in the high stakes, male-dominated world of professional racing? We sat down with Lea Anne Powell to find out.
Lea Anne is a self-described “car-nut,” a cover model, driving teacher, stunt driver and semi-professional racer who is a big fan of CRASH Jewelry.
“I’m fascinated by it. And to see somebody that’s actually taking cars that are exotic, classic, or otherwise, and making them into something that’s so unique, well, it’s impressive. I love it!”
Lea Anne has pretty much been racing her entire life and grew up around cars. Her mom raced in the Powder Puff Derby, but initially discouraged her from joining the sport. Lea Anne was a high school cheerleader when she got bit by the racing bug:
“A lot of girls get influence from their dad or their boyfriend, but I decided to take shop in high school and it just kind of changed me. I quit cheerleading and dance team and started in fully with cars.”
She used money from her grandmother that was set aside for college to buy her first car: a 2000 Toyota Celica. But the first week Lea Anne crashed the front bumper and had no money for repairs. She took the car into a body shop and made a deal with the owner: Lea Anne would work there in exchange for learning bodywork so she could fix her own car.
At 17, Lea Anne started racing in the SCCA “basically racing around some cones which teaches you a lot of bad habits once you get onto a track.” She went on to do formal racing training in the UK at Silverstone, home of the British Grand Prix. She is currently working on her international racing license so she can do 24-hour races, as well as teaching other drivers in the US and Dubai and pursuing her goal of racing in the Pirelli World Challenge Series.
Lea Anne raced Redline Time Attack and 86 Cup, which means that she drives open-wheel vehicles, not NASCAR.
“NASCAR is a little boring for me…It’s the same thing over and over again unless they crash. I’m not saying I enjoy the crashes, but it’s something that makes NASCAR more interesting.”
Lea Anne has had two crashes herself, in which she “tweaked her neck a little bit, but it was totally worth it.” She shares our opinion at CRASH that car accidents don’t necessarily have to be morbid or sad and recycling metal from them is a great way to put a positive spin on a negative experience. In fact, she likes to wear her CRASH cuff whenever she gets behind the wheel as a reminder to be safe.
Lea Anne’s career path is unconventional. Not only is she a woman in a man’s world, but she used a modeling career to get ahead in racing. “I want to be marketable,” she says, and she certainly is. She successfully leveraged spokesmodel jobs for Dunlop Tires, Pirelli Tires, and Rockstar Energy Drink to get more racing opportunities. She will appear in Maxim later this year.
She has also had to deal with some sexism in the racing world.
“I’ve been treated a lot differently because I am a girl. It takes a lot more to get people to believe in me…but if I had given up every time people had told me ‘no,’ I wouldn’t be doing it still.”
At the end of the day, Lea Anne keeps racing because she loves the rush she gets from it.
“I just like going fast. I won’t jump out of a plane but I’ll go 150 any day of the week.”
CRASH could have been made with Lea Anne in mind, combining her interest in cars with her sensibility for fashion.
“When people see a CRASH cuff in person they are astounded. It’s incredible to hold it in your hand and see the paint, the primer, the top coat and all the details.”
And she looks smashing in her new CRASH Lamborghini Cuff!
Lea Anne is currently engaged as a lead driving instructor at the world renowned Formula 1 Track Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi. You can learn more about her here.
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