Sunday, February 14, 2010

Women in NASCAR - One on One with Wendy Venturini

Welcome back to the final part to my Women in NASCAR piece on Wendy Venturini. In the final part of the Q & A session we will hit on several different topics. Family, advice for would-be female journalists, and her husband Jarrad. I hope you enjoy!

Wendy V at jail and bail
Photo taken at NASCARS Bail and Jail in Oct. 2009

I’m blessed with the path my father paved for all of us in racing…We definitely are in this together, as a family.” Wendy Venturini

When ARCA and Cup Series come together, the Venturini’s enjoy some much needed family time. With her whole family involved in Venturini Motorsports, Wendy is at home when working as a pit reporter for the ARCA RE/Max series. Many of the same people work and run the series today, so its a great time to get caught up with everyone.

Wendy stated, “I love covering the ARCA Series because it is a homecoming for me. It’s where I started as a kid watching my Dad race. I’m fortunate to have my entire family involved in this sport. We get to see each other a lot at the companion tracks and that makes it easier to deal with the grind of the schedule.”

LB-Talk about your Dad’s all-female pit crew in the 1980’s.
WV-“My mother was a tire changer on my father’s ARCA team in the 1980’s, which was the first all-female pit crew. It was called the Ultra-Blue, All-Female Pit Crew. My mom was a front tire-changer, my aunt the rear tire changer and my other aunt was the jack woman. They were unbelievable. They practiced every week to improve and ended up being faster than most male pit crews on pit road. He won a championship with that all-women crew. So, my mom is more of the dirt-under-the-nails type and she’s been working at the track all her life. She can do just about anything the team needs. So I have always been around females in a male-dominated sport. I grew up with my mother telling me I could accomplish anything no matter my gender. I’ve been at the race track all my life. I’ve seen the rise in female presence in NASCAR. I think NASCAR has changed with the times. A majority of NASCAR fans are women now.”

LB-What are some of the problems females face when trying to get jobs in NASCAR?
WV-“I really don’t think females face problems trying to get jobs in NASCAR these days. I think if you’re proficient in your field of work, NASCAR prefers to hire women in order to expand their diversity programs. With the increase in female fans, its making it easier for women to land jobs in our industry. Unfortunately, the stigma still exists on many local levels.”

LB-What advice would you offer a young woman wanting to break into motorsports journalism?
WV-“On the TV side, I would recommend doing as many internships as possible even if you don’t get credit. I can’t tell you what to do, but I can tell you what worked for me. I volunteered at our campus TV station as the sports anchor. Also worked as an unpaid sports intern at the Charlotte local news affiliate. I gave up my social life to get a head start on my career. Taking summer courses every summer and also continued my internship without any college credit from the NBC affiliate. After 2 years I had learned how to edit, shoot video, write scripts and pretty much do everything.”

LB-Words of Wisdom?
WV-“Don’t let one TV executive keep you down. That’s just one persons opinion. I was fired by one executive and re-hired by another at the same network within the same month. So what does that tell you? Also, BE PERSISTENT! Keep a positive attitude and don’t burn any bridges, especially if you plan to work in NASCAR. Its a very small family. Learn from your mistakes. If interested in NASCAR you must NOT be star-struck. You are there to work, not be a fan. I respect the drivers, I don’t adore them. There is a difference. You must love to live out of a suitcase, hotels and airplanes 10 months out of the year. You will be home 72 hours a week if you travel the full sprint cup circuit. (I am gone every Thursday-Sunday, February-November plus I work on Tuesdays and Wednesdays doing Interviews). You will never participate in anything on weekends unless it’s at a race city. You must be able to handle the long hours in the intense heat. 4am wake up calls on Sundays, on your feet the entire day in 90 degree heat. Getting home after midnight on race days. You must also have patience to deal with the race traffic every day as well as love to be around a loud and an exhaust-fume filled environment!”

LB-What do you do to relax"?
WV-“I usually need a change of latitude to relax. Someplace where emails and cells are not a necessity. My husband and I like to head to the Caribbean for a few days in the winter. It’s the one time every year I ‘turn off” the world. I re-charge and then it’s back to mass chaos as soon as I land in the States.


LB-When you spend ‘girlfriend time’, what do you do?
WV-“Most of my girlfriends travel like I do. My girlfriends on the road know Jarrad and I are a package deal. And his guy friends know that too. We strongly believe in doing things as a married couple with our friends. On the road, we cook dinners for our friends. We find fun things to do in each city like an antique shop or even a junkyard. What little time we have at home, we do go our separate ways but very rarely. Jarrad likes to go shooting, hunting, or work on his hot rod. I like to do volunteer work with WAM, I like to bargain shop and have coffee/lunch/phone convos with my girlfriends. We don’t have a lot of time to ”do” much with friends at home during race season. That’s what December is for. Life on the road is very different from what people think”


LB-Where did Jarrad purpose to you? Was it romantic?
WV-“Everything he does is romantic. I will not bore everyone with details…I will mention our engagement. It was in a hot-air balloon over a Napa Valley Sunrise. Women all over just sighed, and men reading this just huffed, hehe.”

wendy proposal sign

Jarrad’s proposal to Wendy during their hot air balloon ride


Taken in Napa Valley, Ca. In Hot Air Balloon




Taken in San Francisco at Fisherman’s Wharf

Jarrad and Wendy were married in December 5th, 2007 after a 3 year engagement. They were married in Anguilla, British West Indies (The Caribbean). The couple exchanged vows in a private beach ceremony witnessed by their parents and siblings.

After eleven days in Anguilla spent snorkeling and sunning, Wendy and Jarrad returned as husband and wife to their new home in North Carolina, designed with a romantic Tuscan villa in mind.

LB- What has been the happiest day of your life?
WV-“Most would say their wedding day or the day they had a child or the day they got a big promotion. And while my wedding day was one of the best, I truly have a lot of happy days. I try to have a happy life. Life is what you make it. I don’t like people feeling sorry for themselves or making excuses. If life is not going the direction you desire, change your path. It’s very simple. I fell on hard times with my career and finances in the past. But it’s how you react to those hard times that determines your life.”

I really want to thank Wendy Venturini for taking the time to do this interview with me for Skirts and Scuffs. I really enjoyed getting to know her (you) and look forward to seeing and speaking to you on Twitter. You can follow Wendy on twitter @WendyVenturini

Photos used in this series were provided by Wendy and used with her permission.
Opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and may not reflect this site or its other contributors.

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