Tia Norfleet has accomplished what no other Black woman has done. At 24 the Virginia native, is the first and only Black female licensed to drive for NASCAR, traditionally a
White male dominated sport. Daughter of Bobby Norfleet, a professional race car driver, Tia was introduced to racing by her father at a young age and has not looked back. Her motto, “Get left or get right,” Tia Norfleet takes her position as a role model seriously, talking to young people wherever she goes. Final Call staff writer Starla Muhammad recently interviewed Tia in Chicago during the 41st annual Rainbow PUSH conference.
Starla Muhammad (FCN): How old were you when you first became interested in racing and who was your biggest influence?
Tia Norfleet (TN): When I first realized that I wanted to race and make a career out of it, I was 14 and my biggest influence was my dad.
FCN: What was it about your dad that that drew you into this sport?
TN: Just his strong will and seeing him go through so many different obstacles and so many trials and tribulations in the sport and for him to stand with his head held high and continue to love the sport with such a beautiful passion, it motivated me.
FCN: What is your training regimen like? How often do you train and practice?
TN: We practice as much as possible. It starts off in the morning. I eat breakfast and then I go to the gym and then I test maybe for five hours. Sometimes longer than that just depending on what’s needed and after that, I have to stay hydrated at all times because it is hot. That’s pretty much it.
FCN: And what are some of the top speeds you have gotten up to?
TN: Almost two (200 mph).
FCN: As the first Black woman licensed to drive for NASCAR, what have you found to be some of the biggest challenges that you face?
TN: Really, the biggest challenges that I’m facing at this moment because of the economic downfall would have to be finding a sponsor, a major sponsor.
FCN: You often speak to young people at schools and things like that. Why is that important to you and do you consider yourself a role model?
TN: Yes, I consider myself a role model. I don’t think people in the limelight understand that when you are in the limelight whether you want to be a role model or not, you are. I speak to the kids, I’m all about empowerment and motivation and just positivity and letting them know that dreams come true. It may sound clichÃ© but the truth never changes. I love to let them know that they can be anything they want to be as long as they’re positive and they keep God first, anything can happen.
FCN: Where do you see yourself in five years in the sport?
TN: In the sport, in five years I see myself continuing to race. Just doing what I love. An old man once told me ‘If you want to make God laugh, tell Him what you’ve got planned.’ So I really just take it one day at a time and just pray that I’m still in the sport, still around, still relevant.
FCN: Thank you very much.
TN: Thank you!
(You can follow Tia Norfleet on Facebook or Twitter @TiaNorfleet. Visit her official website at http://tianorfleet34.com.)