Tia Norfleet, the first African-American woman to earn her NASCAR license, has returned to the track for a new season of racing in pursuit of a place at the sport’s highest levels.
Norfleet, 24, is the daughter of former motorcycle, drag racer, and NASCAR truck series driver Bobby Norfleet. She made her NASCAR debut in a Late-Model series event at the Motor Mile Speedway in Virginia in August before starting the new season of the ARCA Racing Series, a stepping stone to the major NASCAR series events, in early February.
Norfleet began racing as a child when her father souped up her battery-powered Barbie Corvette by adding a second car battery, according to Reuters.
“I started in the Barbie Corvette, then I moved up to go-karts, then when I was about 8 or 9 years old, I was driving my family’s mini-van to and from karate practice,” Tia Norfleet told Headline News.
Norfleet plans to find a major business sponsor and run a full NASCAR schedule in 2013 between a mix of ARCA, Nationwide and Late-Model Stocks series events, according to The Augusta Chronicle. She races in the no. 34 car, a tribute to Wendell Scott, the first African-American NASCAR driver and a mentor to Norfleet’s father.
Norfleet said she likewise hopes to be an inspiration to young people.
“That’s my main goal—to motivate young girls of all colors, all races and all creeds, and to let them know that you don’t have to go out and do something that is immoral or not right,” she told Reuters in a telephone interview. “I want them to know you can be positive and you can achieve things. When people tell you, you can’t do something, I just want to motivate them to be all that they can be.”