AutomotiveWoman Wednesday

We profile women who have achieved success in automotive and motorsports with integrity, passion and sheer determination. These women define the term AutomotiveWoman.

We are automotive leaders.
We are motorsport professionals.
We are women inspiring the next generation.

fastlane

Who Am I: Kelly Crandall
Company: RACER.com
Current Position: NASCAR writer
Years at Current Position: 4yrs.
Location: Mooresville, North Carolina, USA

BIO

Kelly has been on the NASCAR beat full-time since 2013, and joined RACER as chief NASCAR writer in 2017. Her work has also appeared in NASCAR.com, the NASCAR Illustrated magazine, and NBC Sports. A corporate communications graduate from Central Penn College, Crandall is a two-time George Cunningham Writer of the Year recipient from the National Motorsports Press Association.

Career

Describe a typical day at work.

There is no typical day, honestly. It’s a 24/7 job, so you want to make sure you stay connected and don’t miss anything. To me, that means continually checking my email and especially social media, since you never know what news might appear there or who might say something noteworthy for any given reason. 

During the week, since I work from home for RACER, I usually position myself at my desk in the office we’ve set up in our apartment. I’ll work on stories, look around other sites to see what others are paying attention to, work on the podcast, send requests, edit the next show, or prepare for the next interview, send emails, etc. There are also press releases coming in during the week for driver advances or track announcements, and so forth. Again, I’m just trying to stay on top of everything while working on whatever stories I have coming, or the news, or keeping the podcast going. 

Describe a current job-related responsibility which keeps you on your toes, daily.

Social media and the podcast. With social media, you never know who will say something or announce something or what rumor might start circulating. With the podcast, I have to be prepared with my research, notes, and be ready to go if an interview gets scheduled for the next day or even 30 minutes notice! 

As a woman, tell us the most challenging hurdle you’ve had to overcome while climbing the professional ladder? 

I feel lucky because I don’t think there have been real hurdles, specifically speaking, to being a woman. However, I do remember when I first started self-publishing on Bleacher Report (back long before it was considered a legitimate outlet) and first started making a name for myself on social media, there were always doubts that I knew what I was talking about because I was a woman or because it was “before my time.”

When met with discouragement, how do stay focused and/or prevail?

I keep a cookie jar. I learned about this while reading a book written by former Navy SEAL David Goggins (after hearing about it from Jimmie Johnson). Goggins suggested the practice of keeping a cookie jar, which is your successes and accomplishments. It is not to be shown off, but it is for you to look at to remind yourself how far you’ve come and what you are capable. For me, I keep a small journal and keep lists of the cool things I’ve done in my career or what I have accomplished, and then I also keep a list of what I want to do. When I’m discouraged or losing confidence, I pull that journal out and read over it, remind myself that I’ve done more than I could have thought, and I can get through anything. Another message to myself is that I moved to North Carolina with no guaranteed career path and made $400 a month, so if I’ve made it this far, I can keep going. 

Being assertive is considered an asset in business.  As a woman, how do you balance the need to be your own champion with the stigma associated with the term, when it’s applied to women?

There is that stigma, isn’t there? Women are quickly labeled bossy or a bitch, or hard to work alongside. My philosophy is to be respectful but not pushy. I don’t beg or hammer people repeatedly for something, which may or may not be a good trait to have for a journalist. But I try to do things with respect and be someone easy to work with. However, there are times when you need to stand up for yourself, not be afraid to get in the scrum and ask questions or keep reminding someone that you need something important. Everyone has a job to do, and just as I can’t be mad at how people handle themselves in the heat of the moment, I would hope they know it’s not personal when I need to ask questions or need something from them. 

Someone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new. What was your one BIG professional mistake, and what did you learn?

This will sound like a copout, but I can’t think of a big mistake, of something that was just horrifying and has stuck with me and makes my stomach drop. I have certainly made mistakes in stories or written things and taken opinions that weren’t well-received, but thankfully, I don’t believe I have had a massive mess up. However, I will say that I did not do a good enough job early on in my career looking for opportunities or finding ways to better myself and my situation. I’m a loyal person and became too content with what I was doing at the time. So, there are times I wonder how different things would be now if I had I put myself out there more. I use that as motivation whenever I feel I should be doing more and letting people know I am available and willing to do more freelance work or whatever it may be. 

Career defining moment, to-date. 

I think when I won the George Cunningham Writer of the Year award from the National Motorsports Press Association for the first time in 2016. Not only because it was a great recognition and accomplishment, but I think it helped further put my name out there and gain respect within the industry. 

Words of wisdom you received from a mentor; you’d like to pay forward?

Oh, gosh, there are so many things I’ve banked over the years. But the messages are usually the same – focus on what you’re doing and do it well. Don’t get caught up in worrying about what other people are doing or the drama around you. There is a saying about working in silence and letting your success be the noise. 

Tell us the most challenging question you were asked in an interview? And how did you reply?

It is probably any form of asking why there aren’t more female drivers in the sport and how we get women into the Cup Series. The best way I try to go about tackling that is by explaining the need for sponsorship support and having the backing of top team owners. But I think if there was a good answer to that, and people knew how we could get more women drivers through the ladder, the sport would fix it. So, I tell people that thankfully, there are many other women in racing, but they just aren’t on the racetrack. 

If you switched career paths tomorrow, what would you do?  

My running joke with people who ask me about my job or what would happen if the sport disappeared is that I’m not trained for anything else. Writing and NASCAR are all that I have focused on for so long, all I’ve wanted to do. The only other serious job I’ve had is a daycare teacher, but it wasn’t something I wanted to make a career. If I had to switch paths or find something new, it would likely still be in sports. Maybe I’d look at IndyCar or NHRA first. 

What piece of advice would you share with women keen to follow in your footsteps? And how do you recommend breaking into your industry, or field of expertise?

Never stop learning, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and don’t back yourself into a corner by only wanting one specific job or role. If there are opportunities to learn and add to your skillset, don’t turn it down because you never know where it might lead or who you might meet. And when you are doing something, be present. Focus on that task and that moment. 

Where do you see yourself in 5, 10 years from now? 

Hopefully doing the same thing I am right now. I love being a writer and podcaster and covering NASCAR. 

Famous last words or motto you live by:

I’m someone how loves inspirational quotes and messages, and I have them all over my apartment. But the one I have really grown to love is from author Glennon Doyle, “We can do hard things.” It can apply to work or life. 

Complete the phrase:
I came. I saw. I PERSEVERED!

Me Unfiltered

Morning person, or night owl?

Night owl. 

Favorite workout, or best way to blow off steam?

Reading or going for walks.

What’s on your music playlist at the moment? 

Carrie Underwood, Justin Moore, Tina Turner, and James Morrison. Usually, the only time I listen to music is when I go out and take walks, and it’s usually the same songs repeatedly. 

Netflix & chill or a good book?

Books! I love to read, and it’s usually what I’m doing in my spare time or when I’m running away from my responsibilities. I’ve read over 70 already this year. 

Hobbies outside of work?

Books and podcasts. I love to read, and I am continually finding podcasts to listen to. Being online so much for work and focusing better when at my desk, I’ve gotten away from watching so much TV. Although I still have a few shows that I’m dedicated to, and when I need something on in the background, there are certain Netflix shows I always turn to. 

Best motorsport documentary or movie of all time. Days of Thunder. Rush. Ford vs Ferrari. Other?

‘Rush’ is very, very good and ‘Ford vs. Ferrari’ was good, but ‘Senna’ has my vote. 

Name a hidden talent? 

I don’t believe I have one. 

If you won the lottery, what’s the first extravagant gift you’d purchase yourself? 

That is an excellent question. I’ve never thought about buying something extravagant but instead think of all the bills I could get rid of, and most importantly, how I would finally be financially secure and not have to think about money every day. 

Most embarrassing moment? 

I am easily embarrassed when I goof on something, whether it’s phrasing something wrong or just completely forgetting something. 

Name a pet peeve: 

Entitlement or thinking you are better/more important than you are. It’s an ugly look, and I have a hard time taking you seriously. Humility is beautiful, and I remind myself of that as well. 

Celebrity Crush:

John Krasinski (with the facial hair).

Name someone famous who would play you in a movie:

Reese Witherspoon. I don’t think we look alike, but she is fantastic in every project she does, we’re both voracious readers, and I admire how hard she works and everything she works on. 

If you could invite only three people to dinner, who would they be and what topic would you discuss?

I have struggled with this question! I thought so long about this because I don’t think I have ever been asked this before or thought about it. I’m going to go with Reese Witherspoon, Tyler Perry, and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. I am fascinated by successful and creative people, and I would love to pick their brains about being creative and then doing, putting ideas into action. 

How do we connect with you online?

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KellyCrandall

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kellycrandall/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KellyCrand/