Julia Laundauer, Race Car Driver, Woman Entrepreneur
When someone reaches out to me and asks if she can ask you for some advice who happens to be a young woman race car driver….well, how can you say anything but absolutely. That is exactly how I ended up connecting with Julia Landauer.
When I asked Julia where she grew up I was expecting her to say somewhere in Florida but the answer was the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Her father is a doctor and her mother is a lawyer. Both of her parents wanted their kids to get into a sport where boys and girls could compete against each other. They had a house forty-five minutes outside of the city in New Jersey near a go-cart racing facility. Her parents liked cars. Her father wanted to race when he was younger but he wasn’t allowed to so he got his kids into it. Julia said that the first time she got in the go-cart and competed in a race that she felt like this was something she was meant to do.
When she was twelve, she read about a boy who was her age and competing. She thought well if he can do it then why can’t I. Truth is she had to wait until she was thirteen because she was too short. You do need to be able to touch the pedals. She then joined the Skip Barber Racing School when she became 5 feet tall.
At 14 she began to win and win and win. The first was in VA, the second was in Connecticut and the third was in Wisconsin. At the end of the year she had won all 12 out of 12 competitions. The next youngest winner was 22.
It wasn’t easy school wise. She was going to Ethical Culture and then Stuyvestant for High School. In high school she slowed down a little so she had time to grow up. It is not an inexpensive sport. If you aren’t winning then your parents are footing a huge part of the bill.
She was accepted into Stanford after high school and moved west. She began to think about other opportunities in the racing arena such as making it more environmentally friendly. Stanford was open to her taking time off when she needed it too. In the summers she would race and her freshman summer she interned at Nascar.
Her sophomore summer she was on Survivor, the tv show. Her show took place in the Philippines. It was brutal. She was the youngest person there. She tried to keep it on the down-low that she was a Stanford student thinking they are not going to let a Stanford student win $1m. It was only half way through that she began to take more control of her image. It was a real learning experience. In the end it was the returning players against the new players. She was booted off half way through. As a competitive person, not winning was not easy.
She returned to Stanford for her junior year. She began racing again the next February and returned to NYC. She did 25 races that year and ended up winning 6 of them. It was the second biggest winning season of her career.
Back to Stanford again for her senior year. She finished a quarter early. It was time to start building relationships, sponsorships, a brand etc. She moved down to North Carolina where racing is king.
What is interesting is the industry is mostly limited to racing families who breed racing kids. Julia is working on building her brand, figuring out how she can continue to race with the right people behind her. It is about recognition.
It was a pleasure speaking with her. She is essentially figuring out how to build a business around herself in order to do what she loves; race. Like all athletes, they are driven to compete in the sport that they love but the key is financial support until you really start to win. Truth is you still need the financial support.
I am going to be watching Julia. I love that she is a race car driver from the UWS of NYC. She is one smart lady who is a real bad ass…and I mean that as a huge compliment.