Liz Prestella: NASCAR Tire Specialist & Mechanic

What is your current role in NASCAR?

I’m a tire specialist for the 37 Chevy of Chris Buescher in the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series with JTG Daugherty Racing. As the Tire Specialist, my role is everything involving the tires on and off the track. I mark all the wheel weights, measure roll out and tread depths, record all the data off the tires and put them in sets along with set and monitor all the air pressure in all the tires throughout the weekend. On any given weekend I could have anywhere from 10 to 20 sets of tires between practice sets and race sets. At the shop my duties include maintaining all tool boxes and carts that travel with us each week, make sure the correct sponsor decals and wrap are on the hauler for the current paint scheme, and keep up with all our wheels and tires in inventory at the champion warehouse we use to transport our wheels.

How did you become interested in motorsports?

Growing up I was the youngest of three girls and always close to my dad. We have very similar personalities that sometimes drives my mom crazy.  A family tradition of ours was to watch NASCAR races on the weekends whenever we weren’t at soccer tournaments. When I was 12 we went to my first NASCAR race and I was hooked on everything about it, the sounds the smells the atmosphere and above all the mechanics’ that went into what they were doing.  When I turned 14 I told my parents I wanted to take auto shop to learn how to work on cars, which solidified my passion for cars and racing. By the end of that school year I was convinced I was going to work in NASCAR and I was going to be a mechanic no matter what it took that’s where my passion and my heart was.

You moved literally across the country to follow motorsports. Why?

The more time I spent learning and working on cars the more I knew what I wanted and there was no changing my mind. By the end of my junior year of high school I was signed up to attend UTI and take the NASCAR based program once I graduated high school. That program was based in North Carolina so that meant 3 months after I turned 18 in 2007. My parents packed me up and moved me 2200 miles from California to Mooresville, North Carolina where I knew no one and my closest family was in California. After finishing the program I worked several different jobs from quick lube oil changer to service advisor.

How did you finally break into NASCAR?

 I got an internship with Jennifer Jo Cobb on her truck team in 2012. I took that opportunity to be a sponge and absorb everything I could learn. I interned with her for about 2 months before she brought me on full time as her interior specialist/ rear tire changer/ suspension builder/ decal specialist/ team organizer. I wore many hats at her team before we parted ways mid-season 2013. I joined Xcalibur Pit School to refine my tire changing skills while I figured out my next move. Through Xcalibur I was connected with Derrike Cope and Jay Robinson. After working several races for the xfinity team Derrike owned Jay asked me to join his cup team Identity Ventures at the time now Premium Motorsports as a tire changer and tire specialist. I was with Jay for a year and half changing tires on his cup car and being the tire specialist before Tommy Baldwin of Tommy Baldwin Racing asked Jay if he could hire me as a tire specialist in 2015. I worked for Tommy until his team shut the doors in the end of 2016 that was when I found my new home with JTG Racing when they started a second team. I have been with JTG since the start of 2017 as the tire specialist of the 37.

Now that you are living your dream job. What’s next on your bucket list?

I made a plan several years ago of my goals in racing before I would be happy and satisfied with coming off the road since currently I travel on average of 40 weeks a year 3-4 days a week. Some of those goals were get 5 wins, get a win as a tire changer, and win a championship. I’m still working on those goals and will hopefully be able to check them off my list soon. Outside of racing one of my life goals is my clothing line I started in 2017. It is called Torq’d Clothing and is workwear with a feminine twist. Torq’d is a clothing line designed for women in racing and automotive industries because one of the biggest struggles I have faced is finding work clothes that can actually hold up to the daily grind that is involved in racing and working on cars. Currently I am getting ready to go into production on the first ever women’s work pants designed for women that wrench, I also have shirts on my website directed towards women mechanics’. All the shirts have cute racing and car sayings on them like “Not sure if that’s grease or mascara” and “The only negative thing in your life should be camber” or my all-time favorite saying “Make your own sandwich, I’ll be in the garage”. Long term I plan on offering work pants, work shorts, button up shirts, and jackets all designed for women to work on cars of all types. Once I finish the first run of my pants I will be doing a run of shorts before I tackle the button up shirts. You can find the clothing line on Twitter and Instagram at @torq_d and on Facebook at Torq’d Clothing. The website is torqd.myshopify.com .

What advice do you have for other women who want to become a tire specialist or mechanic? 

Don’t take anything personal, always stand your ground, keep your head down and work hard people notice even if you don’t think they see you, always go for the job you don’t think you can get and be proud of who you are don’t ever let anyone squash your spirit or your personality. One thing I’ve learned from spending 90% of my life surrounded by guys is they don’t think before they speak and don’t realize how they come off to people. I know it’s hard to not take things personal but leaving your feelings at the door will save you from a lot of sleepless nights and a lot of tears. Honestly those guys aren’t worth you getting upset over because then they win even if they don’t see it you still let them get to you and affect your passion. If you always stand your ground and don’t back down from what you believe or what you know is right you will never have to deal with the “bullies” that you may encounter. If you can keep your head down and work your butt off you’d be surprised at how many people on larger teams will notice and comment amongst themselves about how hard of a worker you are. When there is an opening with one of those teams always apply for it because you never know what could happen,  they will remember what kind of worker you are and other opportunities will come from it. The worse that can happen is you don’t get it, it’s not going to hurt you or do anything to you physically. It not a gremlin or a critter that will bite you or hurt you.  Also never regret any decision you make with your career, everything you do will teach you very valuable lessons in life good or bad.  Lastly you need to be proud of who you are and stay true to yourself, not everyone is going to like you. Who care you don’t need every person in the world to like you or accept you for who you are as long as you are happy and enjoy your life. If you’re dorky or like weird thing or have weird interested embrace it and enjoy your life, you are doing what you love and what your passion is why let someone else run your life. 

It’s your life you live it how you want to

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