For 30 years, Linda Beard worked as an elementary teacher who shared a passion for NASCAR with her husband. Now, she’s one of only two women team owners in the entire industry. And her jump from the classroom to the track came from a shared desire to follow her dreams.
“We just kind of decided this was something that we didn’t have to do. But we wanted to do it,” Linda told NASCAR.com. “It was something we just felt inside. And I did especially, that I wanted to continue.
Linda first started watching the sport before she and her husband of 43 years, Mark, were even married. Mark would take her to all the races, teaching along the way. And eventually, she came to love NASCAR with the same fervor as her future groom.
So as the two entered their golden years, they took a giant leap of faith and started Beard Motorsports, an entirely family-owned operation with only one employee—driver Noah Gragson.
Last year, Mark passed away, leaving Linda to run the team alone. And while the loss hit her hard, she’s enjoying carrying on his legacy.
“My husband had given us this love of going racing and doing what we did for so many years of our lives,” she continued. “And it kind of sticks with you. So, you just kind of like it, and then it becomes more. You love it. And it‘s hard to give it up.
But Linda is still working to pick up where Mark left off. She admitted that when her husband was in charge she “didn’t worry” because he always knew what to do. But “all of a sudden,” she’s making most of the decisions.
“That makes it a little bit harder,” Linda said. “But it makes it more rewarding.”
Nonetheless, she’s “just very thankful to be there and have that experience.”
“When Mark started doing this I looked at myself down on the grid with all those people and thought, ‘is this really happening?‘” she continued. “It didn‘t bother him at all. He was confident about the whole thing. I‘m just like, in awe and so thrilled to be there. And that‘s what happens every time I go on the grid and I do this.”
Thirty Years of Teaching Gave Linda Beard an Upper Hand in NASCAR
And interestingly, the experience that Linda Beard gained from teaching has given her a particular skill set that has helped her run Beard Motorsports.
While working in the education field, Linda taught third and fourth-grade students before becoming a school librarian and eventually an assistant principal.
And by doing that for three decades, she became quite comfortable with public speaking, which is something she has to do often now that she’s a major NASCAR team owner.
“I will tell you this, [teaching] helped me to be able to speak publicly,” said Linda. “Going to the Daytona media center after Noah made the 500 to speak to the reporters — and they wanted me up in front — I‘m thinking, ‘okay, I guess I can do this.'”