Christmas Abbott has an interesting name, and she’s also got an interesting life. As a front tire changer for Michael Waltrip Racing, Christmas became the first female pit crew member in NASCAR history three years ago. When she’s not in the pit box, she’s also an Olympic lifter, CrossFit competitor, fitness coach and now author. She’s the toughest woman you’ve never heard of.
Last week, she told us how she got her start in NASCAR, the reaction she’s received from the fan community, and what she’s looking forward to in the new season.
“My family was really into [NASCAR] and I watched it growing up. I didn’t have an initial interest,” she recalled, “and I kind of got duped into doing a pit crew challenge. My friends called and asked if I wanted to do NASCAR, and I thought they meant drive!”
“But once we started doing the challenges… I immediately had interest in it. We did a couple challenges and I beat the boys, and I just fell in love with it that day.”
Christmas subsequently signed with Michael Waltrip Racing, and said that her gender really isn’t a factor when she’s standing on the pit wall.
“I think going into a male dominated industry there’s always skepticism,” she explained. “The person going in, they have to be mentally strong and not let that bother you. You’re there to do the job, do the job well, and give them no reason to have any doubt.”
“That’s really kind of how I approached it. I approached it coming in as an athlete, and this is something I’m really interested in and passionate about, and I’m going to go in every day and do my best.”
“There’s a couple different phases that I went through,” she continued. “People were just curious, because I’m a really petite person. The bigger fear initially for my co-workers was, is she strong enough?”
“I think after they saw me at practice a few times, they weren’t worried about that anymore, and once they saw me in the gym they weren’t worried about me at all!”
Christmas has a busy schedule ahead of her that doesn’t just include races; her first book, The Badass Body Diet, hits shelves on May 5, and she’ll be leading seminars around the country on select dates throughout the year.
She’s also a nationally ranked Olympic lifter, and is a member of the CrossFit Headquarters Seminar Staff. Her commitment to fitness would make Jimmie Johnson jealous.
But that’s not taking away from her commitment to NASCAR. What is she most excited about now that the 2015 Sprint Cup Season is underway?
“I love the short tracks,” she told us. “I’m just a big fan of watching them, specifically Martinsville. I think those tracks really excel on not only [testing] the drivers, but the pit crews.”
“Those pits are so small and so narrow. It’s like you’re taking an already highly difficult sport and you’re putting it in a whole new realm.”
Whether she’s helping to execute a pit stop or helping someone to change their lifestyle, Christmas is taking things to a whole new level of her own, showing that women in motorsports can be just as tough as the boys.