Tiffany Marie Daniels
Tiffany began her life in Smithfield, Va. She was born to Charlie and Wanda Daniels on Jan. 6, 1985. Tiff also has a younger brother, Cliff. Currently Tiffany resides in Concord, N.C.
During her elementary school years, she was very active in sports such as softball, soccer as well as gymnastics. In her middle school years, she switched from soccer to field hockey. She took sports very seriously, as a participant on high school teams as well as traveling teams.
She was the captain of her softball team in her junior and senior years of school. Her field hockey team actually played in two national tournaments in Florida and California. Tiffany also took part in a field hockey Olympic developmental training program called Futures.
While in college at UNC Charlotte, Tiff played a wide variety of sports from flag football to soccer as well as badminton and ping pong. Her love of sports didn’t end when she graduated. She continued playing in adult recreational leagues with her brother and some friends.For three years, Tiffany worked for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing as a support engineer with the No. 1 and No. 42 teams. But the full-time job left her little time to develop her racing career, so in April 2010, she decided to leave the organization.
Tiffany stated in a public announcement, “It was a tough decision; I gained so much experience at EGR and really enjoyed the people I worked with. But I am a racer, and I would like nothing more than to be able to compete full time. I may be crazy to walk away from a full-time job at a great organization with great benefits. But it’s difficult right now for me to work full-time and successfully pursue my passion. This decision will also allow me to get more involved in some of the freelance announcing/broadcasting work I have been doing.”
When asked what she aspired to be when she was growing up, Tiffany responded, “I can remember wanting to be a lot of things when I was younger. From a horse jockey to a teacher to a marine biologist. My most common and longest aspiration was to be a professional athlete, with either softball or field hockey and go to the Olympics. Of course that changed when I started racing and I haven’t looked back. Although since race car drivers are professional athletes, I guess I wasn’t too far off as a kid – just hadn’t picked the right sport yet!”
Tiffany was gracious enough to accept my request for an interview. I think you’ll find her to be a very positive young woman who can offer so much to the world of racing. She, in my opinion, will be the perfect role model for our youth who are interested in pursuing a career in sports or whatever their dream may be. So, grab a cup of Starbucks, a Coke,or a Red Bull and sit down and meet Tiffany Marie Daniels … her friends call her Tiff!
LB(Lindi Bess)-What is your earliest memory involving motorsports?
Tiff-“I grew up around the racetrack, so it’s hard to pick my very earliest memory. I remember being very little and having to take naps before we went to the track on Saturday nights to watch my dad race. Picking up rubber from the race car tires to play with. When I was a little older, maybe 5 or 6, I remember being stuffed into the back of the interior of my dad’s race cars to clean the inside of the rear windshield because I was small enough to fit back there easily.”
FYI-Tiffany started her career in racing by working as a crew member for Charlie Daniels Racing, her family-owned race team while her brother Cliff Daniels, was driving. In 2001 she began driving a Legends car , and soon advancing to Limited Late Model and NASCAR Late Model stock cars. Occasionally, Tiff was also a spotted for brother Cliff.
LB-What part does your family play in your racing career? Are they supportive?
Tiff-“My family is very supportive of my racing career. My dad has been my mentor, coach, owner, spotter, crew chief, etc. My mom is my biggest fan, and supports us at the track in every way she can, even though driving racecars would probably not have been her first choice for my career. My brother drives as well, and has helped me with everything from working on my cars, spotting, crew chief, marketing and on and on.”
LB-Do you have any female role models/mentors?
Tiff-“My biggest female role model is my mom — she would do anything for me and our family. She is my No. 1 fan, and she also owns a business that she started with my dad. She really showed me, from a young age, how to be strong and independent while still being tender-hearted. I look up to my grandma, Shirley Daniels, as well. She’s a teacher, a world-traveler, and has given so much of her time to charity work. She’s just an all-around great person who can carry on a conversation with anyone. On the racing front, my biggest female mentor and role model is Lyn St. James. I participated in her Drivers Academy in 2008. She has also really helped guide me and give me career advice.”
LB-What are your career goals?
Tiff-“My short term goal is to continue advancing my driving career through the stock car ranks. Looking into running a combination of ASA Series, NASCAR Whelen-All American Series, NASCAR K&N Pro Series, ARCA/REMAX Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races in 2010. My ultimate goal is to become a winner and a champion in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.”
"I worked for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing as a support engineer until April 2010. During my three years at EGR, I worked with the No. 1 car of the 2010 Daytona 500 winner Jamie McMurray and the No. 42 car of Juan Pablo Montoya. With full-time hours at EGR, one of the largest racing teams in NASCAR, (it) left me without the time necessary to advance my career.”
LB-What is your education background or your goals?
Tiff-“I graduated magna cum laude in May 2007 from UNC Charlotte with a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering, concentration in motorsports and minor in public relations.”
LB-What was your first street car? Racecar?
Tiff-“My first street car was a 1999 Chevy Tahoe that was handed down to me from my mom when I got my driver’s license. The Tahoe was pretty cool, with big tires and a brush guard. It had a name—It was the “Grits-mobile” because my license plates said “GRITS” for Girls Raised in the South."
"My first race car was a Legends car that we named 'Old Blue.' It was the ’37 Ford Sedan body style, and we named the car 'OLD BLUE' because it was about eight years old when we got it. (That’s old in car years.) We painted it Petty Blue. OLD BLUE was a great first race car.”
LB-Can you remember at what point you knew you wanted to race cars?
Tiff-“I began racing in the fall of 2001, and it didn’t take long for me to realize that I loved driving. I wanted to make it my career. I quickly became more and more serious about my driving career, and less than a year later I had already figured out my backup plan of attending UNC Charlotte’s Motorsports Engineering Program. As I continued to advance through the ranks as a driver, I worked as an engineer for EGR.”
LB-What do you feel has been your biggest accomplishment thus far and why?
Tiff-“It’s hard for me to select my biggest career achievement, but recently having a solid finish (7th) in my first race on a 1.5- mile track in the history-making South Africa Freestate 500. I’d also have to say that when the Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Team won the Daytona 500 just two weeks later, that was pretty incredible.”
LB-Who are the members of your pit crew, crew chief?
Tiff-“Most recently, my brother Cliff was my crew chief in the ASA Transcontinental Series race in South Africa. My pit crew members included my parents, Devyn Sitler, Lou Sipolt, Kyle Harvey, Scott Goyer, Rodney Shearer, Josh Edwards, and Patrick Molesworth.”
LB-As a young woman, what difficulties have you encountered in this male dominated sport?
Tiff-“Occasionally, there are some obstacles I’ve had to overcome, being female. But I have just had to prove myself like everyone else, whether on the track or off, with my knowledge of the cars. Male or female, with a lot hard work, you’ll be taken seriously.”
LB-What advice would you offer a young woman who aspires to become a race car driver?
Tiff-“GO FOR IT! Be prepared to work hard and have to prove yourself. As long as it’s something you love, you’ll find a way. Also, relationships are very important, whether it’s with your sponsors, your crew, the sanctioning body, or our competitors, so start building and maintaining those relationships from the beginning.”
LB-Who are your current sponsors and what is your schedule like?
Tiff-“My current sponsors are SnowTheRaceHorse.com, Skincode.com, Graphics Solutions of VA, Duragloss, and Safety Kleen. I raced in the ASA Transcontinental Series in South Africa earlier this year, and I’m working on putting together a combination of NASCAR K&N Pro East Series and ARCA/REMAX Series races this year.”
LB-To what charities do you dedicate your support?Tiff-“I dedicate my time to causes that I am passionate about. These include: Make-A-Wish Foundation, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Women’s Auxiliary of Motorsports, Victory Junction Gang Camp, Toys for Tots and the American Cancer Society Relay for Life.”
LB-What are your thoughts on Danica?
Tiff-“I think Danica is going about her career in a way that she’s comfortable with, which is important. What works for her and her career might not work for me, but I’m in no position to judge what’s right for her. I’m glad that attention is being brought to the females in this sport through the attention she has been receiving. Regarding her new NASCAR career, she seems to have a good attitude towards learning about stock cars.”
LB-Any thoughts on NASCAR’s “police yourselves” and "have at it" policies?
Tiff-“I think the 'police yourselves' and 'have at it' rules are the right call, but now the details will just have to be worked out. NASCAR’s job is to keep its fans as well as its participants as safe as possible. The drivers need to be able to settle differences among themselves. They understand the risks when they strap into a car, but the retaliation just has to be kept below the point of anyone getting hurt. I think as the season progresses, the new policies will be a positive for the sport as NASCAR determines how much they need to intervene when situations start getting out of control.”
Tiff-“I don’t have much time to relax, but I enjoy going out to dinner with friends and spending time at the beach and on the lake. I also like to read when I’m trying to relax.”
LB-Where is your “happy place”?
Tiff-“I love being outdoors — at the beach, playing sports and of course, the racetrack!”
LB-Do you have a particular philosophy or words you live by?
Tiff-“It’s not the will to win; It’s the will to prepare to win.” –Coach Mike Smith
“It’s not just a daydream if you decide to make it your life.” –Train (song lyrics)
LB-Where can your fans find information about you and your schedule?
Tiff-“For updates and recent happenings and my schedule, check out www.tiffdaniels.com or follow me on Twitter and also on Facebook.TiffDRacing
LB- Final comment from Tiffany--
Tiff-“While I am giving my all to achieve my driving goals, I also strive to inspire generations to dream big and believe in their ability to achieve those dreams, while approaching challenges with grace, respect, and dignity, embracing a desire to be their best.”
I want to personally thank Tiffany for allowing me to interview her for this column. She is a very strong, independent young woman who has a really bright future and will succeed in whatever she does in life, although I would look for her on the racetrack in the near future.
As always, any opinions expressed within this column are those of the writer, not of the contributors or the site administrator.