Beyond the Byline: Getting to Know Unique Hiram

A mother, a poet, and a former Navy Sailor – she’s a woman with a lot on her plate. Today we go beyond the byline and learn more about an amazing woman who has debunked more than a couple of stereotypes in her life. So sit back and relax as we go beyond the byline with Skirts and Scuffs Associate Editor, Unique Hiram.

Unique and nephew Brandon

Katy Lindamood (KL): Tell us a little bit about your background. Where you grew up, where you went to school, and what you do now.
Unique Hiram (UH): I was born and raised in the Bronx (NY) until the age of 15 then the family moved to Holly Hill, South Carolina, where I attended and graduated from high school. It was indeed an adjustment for me going from pavements to dirt roads but I wouldn’t change the experience for anything. Currently, I work for a non-profit organization as the administrative manager and I serve in the United States Navy Reserves.

KL: From visits to facilities and hospitals to sponsorship deals, NASCAR has a close relationship with the military. Tell us a little bit about your career in the military as a Navy sailor and now with the Navy Reserves.
UH: I started my active duty career with the United States Navy in 1992 as an undesignated airmen apprentice. This means I really didn’t have a particular job in which I was assigned to perform; therefore, I had the opportunity to figure out what it was I wanted to do in the aviation field. The job that I settled on was as an aviation storekeeper. Some of the aspects of this particular job included but were but not limited to accounting, inventory, logistics and purchasing.

In 1999, I decided to leave active duty upon completion of my obligation of service and joined the reserves because I wanted to remain affiliated as well as continue to serve in a different capacity. Due to a number of mergers with some of the aviation/shipboard rates, I am a logistics specialist responsible for performing the same type of duties wherever needed. As a result, I have been proudly serving for the past 19 years continuously and thoroughly enjoy the fact that I can represent our nation in such a manner.

KL: Your son recently decided to follow in your footsteps and join the military. Congratulations on that and his choice to defend our country. What's one piece of advice you gave him and would give any young man or women who chooses this as their path?

Unique and son Malcolm enjoy a race at Charlotte Motor Speedway
UH: Yes, he did and thanks for the congratulations Katy, I do appreciate it. One piece of advice that I gave to Malcolm and would give to any young man or woman is this … “Serve your country with pride and make the most of the opportunities that you can acquire in the military. There are opportunities to get your college degree, to learn as well as perfect a number of skill sets and see the world. There will be good and bad days but know that as long as you stay true to yourself – the sky is the limit.”

KL: Did you grow up with NASCAR in your household or was it a love you developed later in life? What drew you to the sport?
UH: I actually developed my love for NASCAR back in 1997 while on active duty in the Navy. There were some buddies of mine who were die-hard fans so it peeked my interest. Honestly, I had the mind frame of thinking why would anyone want to watch a bunch of cars driving around the track in circles – over and over again? Well, I just happened to witness this menacing looking black car with #3 painted on the side and fell in love with his driving skills. Yes – Dale Earnhardt Sr. is a huge reason why I stayed glued to the television week after week from that point.

KL: In the past you have worked with Racer's Reunion. What can you tell us about the organization and your role?
Racer’s Reunion is an organization dedicated to preserving the historical aspects of racing and honoring those pioneers who have paved the way for today’s biggest talents to compete at their current levels. I got involved with them by answering the call as a volunteer to participate in the cleanup efforts at the Historic Columbia Speedway in Cayce, S.C. I have written a select few blogs on the site and continue to make race fans aware of their existence because they are doing some great things in honoring our racing pioneers. Please check out their website or become a fan on their Facebook page.

KL: Many of our readers were touched by the poem you wrote about the late Dale Earnhardt (which was published to Skirts and Scuffs in February). I hear there's a NASCAR poetry book in the works. Can you tell us about it? Where we can get it and when it will be available for purchase?
UH: The book is titled “Fast Lane Poetry” and it contains poems about different aspects of the racing industry. For example, I have written about a number of prominent racing figures and personal experiences at the race tracks. The poem about Dale Earnhardt Sr. is included in the book because it is very special to me. It can be ordered through Publish America and the link is as follows:

KL: We're all familiar with the stereotypes often associated with female NASCAR fans - that we are only fans because we want to marry a driver or because our spouses are into racing. For you though the stereotypes are even more prevalent. As an African American woman, have you found that people are surprised to find out you're a NASCAR fan?
UH: Yes, there are several people who have been surprised to find out that I love NASCAR. It especially trips them out when I can describe what is happening on the track as well as talk a little shop. There is this stereotype about the demographics of the typical race fan; however, I am proud to say that I have made some really good friends along this journey and have never been made to feel uncomfortable in any way.

KL: What drew you to Skirts and Scuffs initially?
UH: The content on the site and the fact that it is female-based (no offense to the men). The writing talent of the women on this site is awesome and I wanted to be a part of it. Granted, there are a lot of great women out there reporting on the major channels about this great sport like Jamie Little, Wendy Venturini and Krista Voda – just to name a few. However, this is the only professional, web-based site that gave the opportunity to everyday NASCAR loving women to write about different aspects of the sport.

KL: Describe yourself in one sentence.
UH: Striving to make the most out of this life that God has given me despite the challenges that may come along the way.

Thank you Unique for sharing your story with our readers. We are thrilled to have you as part of the team and can’t wait to check out your poetry book!

A fan of NASCAR since the age of 12, Katy Lindamood is the Founder/Editor-in-Chief of Skirts and Scuffs. In addition to Beyond the Byline, which profiles the women of Skirts and Scuffs, Katy also writes Deuces Wild, a weekly recap of Penske Racing drivers Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch. Katy can be contacted via email or through Twitter.
Beyond the Byline: Getting to Know Unique Hiram Beyond the Byline: Getting to Know Unique Hiram Reviewed by Katy Lindamood on Thursday, May 05, 2011 Rating: 5