She’s a former defense contractor, an author, an entrepreneur, a gym owner, a brand. She can squat nearly 275lbs, and comes home from cross-fitting to go to bed and dream about cross fitting – or NASCAR.
She’s 5’3″ and 115lbs of shredded muscle; she’s probably tougher than you. Meet Christmas Abbott. The 31-year-old cross-trainer was officially NASCAR’s first female pit crew member to be fielded in a top-level series – ever.
You Got To Be Kidding
You’d almost think this was a joke. A petite brunette – weighing roughly half that of the majority of her direct male counterparts – was planning on zipping five lug nuts off a racecar hub, tossing the 70lb wheel assembly aside like a gift bow, and zinging another five on – just as fast as ex-military men and athletes? It is a joke, but not because she’s a woman. It’s a joke because I’d venture to say that the majority of men her size couldn’t even do what she does!
No part of NASCAR is for the faint of heart. But if there’s one facet that’s grossly underappreciated, it’s in the pits. Sure, we all know that comes down to the hundredths of seconds-faster you can get your car back onto pit lane; that’s been hammered into our heads as a NASCAR “101” necessity. But the precision and synchronization required for pit stops to flow so seamlessly on race day don’t just happen. It takes practice – and it takes “Thunder Gun.”
The Thunder Gun is the $1,500, 1/2″-drive, Ingersoll Rand air wrench that zings lug nuts off at 15,000rpm – with 1,000ft/lbs of torque! The air wrench in your Snap-On toolbox at work barely spins at 2,000rpm, to properly frame that for you.
Sprint Cup tire changers are expected to take no longer than 1.5 seconds to hit all five lugs – muscle memory is key. The angle of attack is critical. A 1/16″ error can potentially ruin a race. You have less than 0.3 of a second to hit each nut with marksman-precision, perfect every time; your job depends on it.
Christmas Abbott didn’t do it for the fame, she didn’t do it for the glory. She doesn’t mind it – but she wasn’t there to “prove” anything to anybody – except to herself! She’s a supremely-confident woman, poised with grace and a light-hearted demeanor.
Her green eyes, light brown hair, and gorgeous smile hide a secret you’d never see coming – she’s a savage.
She loves the thrill of a stock car rushing toward her as she bolts across the pits to meet the skidding front-right tire with the Thunder Gun. The rush of the adrenaline is razor sharp – just like the margin for error. She lives for moments like this. She’s been living for moments like this all her life.
Standing Up Starts Young
She knew she was different when she wanted to join the boy’s softball team. She was 10 years old, living in Virginia, and at that time and place, this wasn’t allowed. Long story short: Abbott’s mother wasn’t about to let a little league organization tell her daughter no.
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As an adult, she would eventually become a civilian contractor in Iraq, following in her mother’s footsteps. The four-year contract would only further fuel her drive and passion to push boundaries. Her lust for the extreme was seldom quenched.
It was during her contract term that a soldier would recommend a cross fit discipline to her – a physically-demanding exercise passion that would eventually rage uncontrollably inside of her. Christmas would come home to the states, where she became the proprietor of a cross-fit-based gym. And then later, another one.
A NASCAR executive from Turner Motorsports would eventually find her and offer her a shot at NASCAR. He’d always wondered why there weren’t more women in the sport, and began to entertain the idea of a female pit crew member after seeing them at his gym – some of them could actually outlift him.
Christmas Abbott was the perfect candidate to tackle this challenge and ate up every second like a champion. She’d start changing tires for Jennifer Jo Cobb’s, driver of the number 10 Chevy Silverado in the Camping World Truck Series. After that, she’d go on to work with Michael Waltrip Racing, servicing Clint Bowyer’s car under a full-time contract.
She would only participate in one season of NASCAR, however. “I was going into a sport at an age where most people are retiring,” she’d tell the Charlotte Observer. “So for me, it didn’t make sense trying to pursue it.”
Christmas Abbott has walked many walks in life; she’s danced with the devil – and soared high above the clouds. She is an inspiration for anyone implored by a good old-fashioned conquest – for those that seek to extract that little extra out of life – and not afraid to work for it.
I don’t highlight her story to simply to promote one of the many strong females succeeding against insurmountable odds, I highlight her story as an inspiration to anyone who’s been told no; anyone who’s been told they can’t; anyone who’s been told to stand down, but refused to listen. This one’s for you.