History was made during the 2021 Daytona 500‘s “Speed Week” held earlier this month. During the opening race week of NASCAR’s 2021 season, Toni Breidinger became the first female Arab-American driver to participate in any NASCAR series.
Using this accomplishment as momentum, the 21-year-old driver is pushing forward to, a hopefully, successful career in racing. She talked about her recent success and her future opportunities during an interview on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” on Thursday (Feb. 25). According to an article on TODAY.com, Breidinger is very happy about her experience in Florida.
“It was so crazy. I’ve been dreaming to race at Daytona ever since I was a kid, so it was literally a dream come true for me,” Toni Breidinger said. “You know, I’ve watched that race so many times. Once you’re in the driver’s seat, it’s like this whole other experience.”
While competing at Daytona’s ARCA Menards race, the young racer, who is of Lebanese descent, achieved two of the goals she set for herself.
“My biggest goal for the race was to finish the race. Daytona is notorious for wrecks, so I just wanted to get the race finished,” Breidinger said, according to TODAY. “I wanted to get it under my belt, just to get that big-track experience. So I was happy that I finished.”
Also, she was managed to finish in 18th place. This finish meant she met her goal of finishing in the top 20 of all racers in the event.
“… it was definitely a solid weekend,” the driver said.
Toni Breidinger Off to Solid Start for Racing Career
In addition to setting a record with NASCAR, Toni Breidinger also holds a record in the United States Auto Club. According to the TODAY article, she won 19 races in the league. She is the only woman to have won that many races in the league.
“It’s really cool to be the first,” Breidinger reportedly said. “Everybody loves to be the first. But I also don’t want to be the last. I really want to pave the way for others. I’ve received so much amazing support and so many messages. I was really surprised by a lot of people just saying that I inspire them, which is really amazing.”
The driver’s love of racing started when she was just 9 years old. According to the article, her father took Toni and her twin sister to drive go-karts. It was there that she began to love the sport. And, while she is a woman competing against mostly male racers, she is going to keep pushing forward.
“Honestly it’s something that I never think about,” Breidinger reportedly said of competing against mostly male drivers. “There’s never been a point in time where I’m just standing there like, ‘Wow, I’m the only girl here.’ The car doesn’t know gender. The track doesn’t know gender. Gender is so irrelevant. As soon as the helmet comes on, everybody is just a driver out there.”