There’s a good chance that if you watch television you already know Julia Landauer’s name. The 24-year-old was a participant on the reality show “Survivor” in 2014. Now she’ll be a contestant in a different reality show of sorts, the 2016 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West season, driving for Bill McAnally starting with Saturday night’s Toyota Auto Parts 150 at California’s Irwindale Speedway.
Landauer is already an accomplished driver. Just last year she won the track championship at Virginia’s Motor Mile Speedway in a Lee Pulliam-owned Limited Late Model. Landauer said she has used quite a few things that she learned from Survivor while behind the wheel of a race car, especially during longer runs.
“There you just have to, not to be cheesy, but go into survival mode,” Landauer told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “You have to fight through and make it work to get through the situation. You don’t know how you’re going to make it, but you know that you will. So you’re always pushing.”
Originally from New York City, Landauer started out racing go-karts in the Pennsylvania area as a kid. She then moved south to North Carolina later on to fully pursue her career in racing.
“My parents were really looking for something that us kids could all do together, specifically something in which the girls could compete against the boys,” she said. “My dad liked racing so they got us into karting up there. After I started climbing the ranks I started looking more into NASCAR. Obviously if you want to get into NASCAR you need to move to Charlotte, North Carolina.”
Landauer said she already has a relationship with the McAnally team because they’ve raced together in the past, just not in the K&N Series.
“I met Bill back in 2009 and actually raced a couple of Late Model races for him back then,” said Landauer. “So we’ve kept in touch since then and we ran a couple tests while I was out in school in California (at Stamford). He kept in touch with me last season as I was having my really good year with the championship. Then we started really talking in the fall and we were able to put together a deal for the full season.”
The first race for Landauer and the McAnally team is this weekend at the Irwindale Speedway. It’s not only Landauer’s first race for the team, but it’s her first race in this series and in the much heavier stock car.
“It’s a big jump from a Limited Late Model to a K&N car,” she said. “One is the weight, so the braking is a little bit different. But then there’s also the sheer power. I have almost twice the horsepower this year compared to last year. Getting used to everything happening at a quicker pace is definitely going to be an uphill battle, but we’ve had some really good test days so far and I’m excited to learn more with some other cars on track this weekend.”
Landauer’s transition to the new style of racing should be made easier due to the fact that she is joining one of the top teams in the series. In fact, Bill McAnally Racing just won the 2015 series championship with Chris Eggleston. Sometimes joining a team fresh off a championship, especially as a rookie, can add a lot of pressure, but as she has already shown on Survivor, Landauer does a pretty good job of handling any pressure.
“It’s a double-edged sword when you join a championship winning team,” she said. “Obviously there’s some pressure. I think all the drivers can win the championship, and we have the cars to do it so that gives you some extra confidence. I couldn’t be happier to be with this team. The number of really great people that they have all working together is pretty exceptional.”
She also added that she has talked with Eggleston a handful of times and that he’s been “awesome” when it comes to helping her out with any questions she has had, whether it be at a test or in any other situation.
But once the race begins on Saturday night, the only person that can help Landauer is herself. Landauer said the plan is to be conservative for much of the race so that she’ll have tires to use to reach her goal at the end.
“We always go out for the win,” said Landauer. “That’s always our goal. But with it being our first race together in the K&N Series I just really want to have a competitive weekend. I’d love to get a top 10 finish, if not higher.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Julia Landauer Facebook