with Toni Bereidinger
28 Feb, 2023 · motorsport
Toni Breidinger is a Professional NASCAR Race Car Driver for Venturi Motorsports where she drives a number 25 Toyota Camry. She has the most wins for women in United States
I always say create your own path. There's so many different ways to get to where you wanna go, and nobody's path is the same. I mean, I wasted so much time when I was younger worrying about what everyone's doing and they did this at this age, or they're doing this right now. And 📍 I just did my own path and it still worked out.
So I think you can't be so caught up in what other people are doing. Everybody has their own journey. Everyone has their own path. . So don't hold yourself to replicating what somebody else just did.
Today we have the pleasure of talking with NASCAR race car driver Tony Binger. Tony competes full-time for Venturing Motorsports and is a Victoria's Secret model. Tony has the most wins in the United States Auto Club history for women with a total of 19. becoming a NASCAR race car driver was not easy, and it took some time.
For Tony, it's tough to break into an athletic world dominated by men. But after many years of go-kart racing and other race car driving competitions, Tony made her way into the infamous scene of nascar. In this podcast, Tony will share with us her journey to becoming pro and give us some insight on how she handles the pressure, including how she handles performance anxiety.
Before we get started, if you love this podcast, make sure to leave us a rating and review on Apple Podcast and Spotify. Tony, welcome to the Voice and Sport Podcast.
Thanks for having me. I'm super. Well, you and
I met at an event earlier this year in New York, and I think it was so amazing to sit down with a race car driver.
I don't know very many. We've had Julia on the podcast and you are our second driver. So I just wanna know, how do you get started in this sport for you? When was the first time you got behind a. The wheels.
Yeah. So I pretty much started racing when I was nine. I started in go-karts and I knew nothing about racing before.
If you asked me what NASCAR was or anything about motorsports, they're like, I don't know what that is. So it was very random and I wasn't expecting to fall in love with it as much as I did. But basically my dad was just driving down the highway one day, saw an advertisement for Go-Kart classes.
I have a twin sister named Annie. And we were kind of just at the age where we're trying all these different sports. Nothing at the time really clicked for me. I was trying so many different sports different instruments to play and nothing was really just clicking. And then as soon as I got into go-kart, I was like, wait, I love this.
I wanna do this every day. And it just instantly clicked for me and my sister. So we started racing go-karts and the rest is kind of history from there. I
love it. So at age nine, what was it that you loved about driving?
Yeah. I would say what I love about racing now versus when I was nine is a little different, I think.
when I was nine. I love the sense of independence cause I feel like when you're little, you always have people telling you what to do. You're at school, you have teachers. And then this was the first time that I was just in control and could do my own thing. And I thought that was super cool and exciting.
And I also thought it was cool to drive and I was so little and I thought I was so cool just driving this little go-kart. So I think that's what I loved about it when I was younger. I love it.
I have a daughter who's nine right now, so Ooh. I'm just imagining her getting behind the wheel, being like, and I'm pretty sure I just told her what to do all morning long.
So I understand where you're coming from. Yeah. .
Oh my gosh.
Well, you also said you love that you were faster than the boys, which I love. So were you immediately competitive about driving or was it lighthearted and fun for you at first?
You know, I think I was definitely immediately competitive about driving, especially since I had my twin sister doing it with me. I feel like growing up we were always very kind of competitive and like, oh, I'll race you here, and you know, just different little things like that. So I.
I wasn't necessarily thinking about the other kids that were there, but it was just me and my sister were like, oh, let's, you can get a faster time or El Paso here. And I was just having a good time with my sister, but it was kind of friendly competitiveness.
And do you remember your first competition and what was that like?
Yes, I actually remember it so specifically, which is funny cause I don't remember a lot of things from when I was nine. But I do remember sitting in my go-kart about to go out for my very first race and I had the most insane knots in my stomach and I had no idea what to expect. I was supposed to take the green flag with all these other kids and go-karts and I've never done this before and I remember so nerve-wracking cuz all the kids had already been racing for a while.
I just remember sitting in my go-kart waiting to fire it up and I felt so sick and then it was so crazy cuz as soon as the green flag dropped, I felt fine all of a sudden. I didn't even think twice about it. So, . Yeah, I remember. I think that was my first sense of anxiety when I was little, so I definitely remember that moment.
I love that. Well, we're gonna talk about anxiety. Mm-hmm. and the importance of mental performance all along this conversation today. But I still wanna talk a little bit more about, how did you really get into the sport of race car driving? Because often there's a lot of legacy ties to motor sports.
And so for you, you know, even though your dad was the one who introduced you it was you and your sister who did it, but there wasn't that big legacy family tie. So what challenges did you face when that moment hit you where you were like, you know what? I'm gonna take this from go-karting to, I wanna be a professional
Yeah, it's so crazy cuz so many people in Motorsports, their parents used to do it or their dad used to do it. They have some family tie and I never really realized that until I was a little bit older and I'd ask people like, how'd you get started? But yeah, it's crazy cuz my family knew nothing about racing and we're kind of learning as we went, which was really exciting and fun.
But at the same time, difficult because you don't really know what's right or wrong and you kinda have to go through the trial and error, whereas if your parents have experience or you know, somebody who has experience and kind of guide you a little bit better.
So I definitely think it wasn't always easy, but yeah, I mean I think it kind of made it exciting and for me, I kind of really took charge at a young age of what I wanted to do and where I wanted my career to go. And I kind of just told my dad, Hey dad, we have to do this. And I told him when I was so young, I wanna move to North Carolina.
And I just had this whole grand plan of things which might have not been totally realistic, but somehow made it work out. .
Well, you know, that's often you have these big goals and these dreams and how to actually accomplish those things. Doesn't always happen in the exact order. Mm-hmm.
in which you had it set in your mind. So walk us through that experience for you going from, Nine years old doing go-kart racing to then getting into your first couple competitions and then determining that you want to go do this professionally because you ended up not going to college.
Yeah. And you did graduate high school, but then you went all in on racing. So what was that part of your life like and how did you make that decision? Yeah,
When I was in go-karts and as soon as I did my first race, I told my dad I wanna be a race car driver and told my parents I wanna do this as a living.
And they definitely, probably thought it was just gonna be a phase at the time. I mean, most kids kind of have farfetch dreams and all that kind of stuff. So they were always very supportive, but I don't think they actually realized that I was really gonna take this seriously until I said, Hey, I'm not gonna go to college.
I'm gonna go try to be a NASCAR driver. And then they were like, oh gosh, this is not a phase. She's being serious about this. So yeah I realized when I was little, but I think when I made the decision to not go to college, kind of made it serious, I guess in a sense.
But yeah, I mean, for me, I basically raced go-karts for, I wanna say like six or seven years. When I was 15 is when I got in my first race car. That was when I was kind of introduced to more of the NASCAR space. Before, when I was younger, I just wanted to do every form of motor sports, but when I saw my first NASCAR race at a track that I was racing, In a lower division.
I was like, wait, this looks so fun, I wanna do this. And I started doing all this research and I did have a timeline for myself for how I wanted everything to go and nothing went as planned . So I've had to kind of learn to accept that, you know, you can set goals for yourself but don't set such specific timelines.
Cause I definitely got discouraged at points few years ago when I wasn't where I set myself to be in my little plan that I had. So yeah, I had a timeline. Didn't go exactly as planned, but it's okay. .
Well, what advice do you have for other young women out there that are interested in getting into this sport?
What learnings? When you take a look back at your end of your high school career and sort of your transition into becoming a NASCAR race car driver, what learnings would you say is so important for young women to consider
along the way?
Yeah, I would say I get the question a lot, like, how do I get started in racing?
And I always say, just go to your local track and get into what you can get into. you know, if you can't get into NASCAR at the time, then maybe do go-karts, maybe do something else.
There's so many different forms of motor sports and I just think sea time is sea time. Don't be so critical on what you see on social media, what you see other people doing. If you're getting that sea time, who cares?
So you made the big move to go to North Carolina. Tell me about that decision and what that looked for you in terms of a change of lifestyle but also a change of training.
Yeah, so it's funny cuz I always just knew that everything NASCAR related is based in North Carolina. All the drivers live out there, all the teams are out there. So in my head, I always knew I was gonna go to North Carolina. and I never really thought it was a big move or sacrificed or a change.
So many people were like, oh, you sacrificed so much moving out there. I never thought of it like that. I was just, you know, following my dreams and I was super excited about the time and maybe a little bit ignorant about how big of a move it was gonna be because I just remember my first night in my apartment, I was like, it is so quiet.
I actually did this. It happened so fast and just sitting there when it actually happened, I was , oh gosh, I don't know anybody here. I made this big move. I wasn't driving for a team at the time. So it was kind of scary once I actually made that leap. But I eventually had to learn to shake hands with people and racing and a lot of sports are very political, so you have to meet the right people and put yourself in position to meet the right people.
And I had to learn that at a young age. So yeah, it was definitely a big move, but I always kind of knew I wanted to do. .
And so what were the biggest benefits of moving your training to North
Carolina? Yeah, I would say the biggest benefit for me is all the people that you wanna be scouted by are out there.
So if you're racing out there, people that are higher up in the motorsports ladder system are probably gonna see your name's gonna get out a little bit more. So for me, that was the biggest pro. And I just feel like the competition is so much more intense and a little bit more elevated out there.
So yeah, it just felt like for me it was just about getting my name out there, being seen, showing people on that side of the world, you know, what can I do?
And what was the most fun, surprising thing about moving to North Carolina?
I would say I've met a lot of really fun people and it's crazy cause.
especially in the area that I live, it's all motorsports related. So you're just driving down the road and everyone has little numbers on the back of their car. Everyone is somehow racing related, you see logos or stickers just everywhere that are racing companies. So it's kind of crazy.
It's like a whole little motorsports world in this small area. So I was kinda surprised by that. Everything's there if I wanna get a suit, a helmet, just everything is in this one area. So I always think that's really cool about it. Are
people, like, you know, when they're not actually on the track, are they essentially racing anyway?
Is it that vibe throughout the city? ?
Yeah, I mean you can definitely tell when it's a race car driver driving next to you because I feel like they drive a little bit more confidence than they maybe should. But but yeah, it's funny, some of my teammates will have their little numbers on the back of their car if they have a logo they'll put on the back of their car and I'm like, oh, there's so-and-so driving or just random stuff like that.
So it's fun. It's a little community, but it's fun.
What's on the back of your car that you drive off the track?
Ooh, I don't have anything on the back of my car cause I'm a license plate. I'm not the type of person to put stickers and stuff. It's cute. Do your thing. But it's not my vibe. . I love
Okay. Well how do people know that it's Tony behind the wheel driving? What's your style?
How would you describe it? So all my friends make fun of me because I guess I drive safely is what I like to say. Cause I do, they're like, oh, you're driving so slow. All this stuff. Especially if I have people in my car.
I like to follow the rules and for me, when I'm driving on the road, I don't have this need for speed. I do that on the racetrack. So for me it's relaxing. I'm like, this is so chill we're going 45 miles per hour. We're going a straight line,
so for me, I think it's so relaxing. I'm not up on the wheel and people expect me to drive different, cause I'm a race car driver, but I'm pretty chill. .
Well as a mom I'm like, I like that. I like that answer. . Okay. Well let's talk about Tony on the racetrack. What kind of driver would you say you're, you are on the track?
would say, you know, depending on the different type of race car you're in, it's crazy cuz some of them look similar but you have to change your driving style so much depending on the car. Cause it'll handle differently. But I think for me, the biggest. Thing is I'm just trying to adapt and learn and I kind of don't really have myself set to a certain drive myself.
Cause I think that I can always be better. And this was my rookie year in nascar. So I didn't really go in there with a certain mindset of like, oh, I wanna drive the car this way or drive the track this way. I just wanna learn everything and be a sponge and soak everything up.
So I feel like I haven't really developed necessarily an exact driving style yet. I'm just trying to learn everything. Well, you're
just getting started. Exactly. Which is so exciting. So let's talk about what that lifestyle looks like, cuz I bet so many people, including myself, I don't really know what the life looks like for you.
So what is a day in the life of being a race car
driver today? Yeah, so our off season's a little bit different versus when we have our season going on. But basically during the off season we amp up our training even more. So at our facility with Toyota, they have us training twice a day. So morning will be lifting, second part of the day will be conditioning or mobility or any kind of training like that.
So that's kind of my off season is a lot of training. I'll do go-karting for fun still. I think it's a great way to keep your skills sharp, work on your hand eye coordination and just see time is always great. I feel like it's almost busier in a sense versus during the season cuz during the season I feel like I have a very.
Set schedule and a couple days off. But I feel like the off season's almost a little bit more work, so you're just trying to prepare for the new year and everything like that. .
Well driving is also pretty mental. Mm-hmm. . It's not just about the physical part of the sport, it's also about the mental part.
So can you tell us a little bit about how you train and prepare yourself
mentally for races? Yeah. I feel like this year I've learned a lot, especially doing my first full season in nascar. I feel like everything went by so fast and one thing for me that I definitely wanna work on for next year is I feel like I lacked in being present.
And I think sometimes that affected my performance. Cause I wasn't super present in the moment. I was always trying to think of the next race or the next thing, or qualifying when I'm practicing. Well it's like why are you thinking about qualifying you to be practicing right now? So I think for this coming season I definitely wanna focus on being more present because I think, you know, racing in so many sports are so mental and it's so important to be confident.
So if you're not really in the moment and a thousand percent focused on what you're doing in that moment, Then I feel like it could hurt your performance.
Well, I mean, that's just an amazing lesson for life to try to be more present. Right. That's why I love sports because you could take so much from what you do and how you get ready for a race or even how you wind down after a race.
Mm-hmm. , all of those skills are so important for life. That's why at voice and sport, we're trying to keep young women in sports. Mm-hmm. Regardless of whatever sport it is. So for you, when you're getting ready now versus your nine year old self when you were having some anxiety with your first go Tocar race and you're getting ready now for a NASCAR race, what do you do to really prepare so that you're ready and you approach nerves and anxiety a little different now I'm.
than you did when you were
nine? Yeah, so now I luckily have a lot more resources versus when I was nine and I've learned a lot on the way. So for me, preparation is so important and I take a lot of notes before races, whereas when I was little I had no idea what note taking for race was or what studying footage is.
So now going into races, I really like to be prepared and I feel like I kind of can calm your nerves a little bit going into it, even just. , you know, knowing how the track is gonna change or what happened in past races kind of gets you a little bit more prepared. So I study a lot of footage, take notes.
I'll go over everything with my crew chief and my team, and I'll kind of talk about, you know, every track is different. So kind of just analyzing, what the track is gonna be like, what the line is gonna be like. So I think just preparing more in that sense. And now I'm super fortunate that I have a simulator that I can used. So that's super helpful too, while the tracks are scanned into it. So it's really effective to get that tee time, even though you're not actually at the track to kind of get that similar sensation of what the track is gonna be like. So I have so many more resources versus when I was nine, but also for myself I feel like my confidence is a little bit more versus when I was younger too, so yeah,
I love that.
So I was a ski racer growing up. Oh, nice. And so always before the races, I would go down the course, then I'd be visualizing the course and the bumps, everything. So is it similar in race car driving? Do you use visualization as one of your mental performance
Yes, I definitely do try to visualize everything. Even just the perfect lap. I try to visualize how you're gonna take each turn. Cause I think it's so important to go through those steps. It's almost like when you're doing it's not your first time doing it. It's like you visualized it so much.
And yeah, same thing in racing. You know, if there's a bump into the track, you wanna look out for those and be aware of your surroundings. Even if there's like a crack in the track or a scene, all these small things or a little patch over here, you wanna hit this patch. So there's little things like that.
It's kind of crazy. Well, tell me
about your pre-race routine. Do you have any superstitions? what does that look like for a race
car driver? Yeah. I wouldn't say I have any superstitions, but I definitely have kind of a routine. I always put my gear on the same way and I do that so it's almost like you don't have to think about, it's one less thing to think about. So I like to have my routine. So yeah, I don't really have any superstitions, just very routine based. .
Amazing. Do you use a sports psychologist today? Yes, I do. Okay. Yeah.
Okay. We believe that voice and sport, having a sport psychologist is one of the most critical things to success. And like you said, sometimes you don't get access to some of those resources until later in your career.
Mm-hmm. . And so I'd love to hear what you have learned from using a sport psychologist and if you can share any tips to the girls at voice and sport. .
Yeah, so I recently started using a sports psychologist and that's kind of where I learned to be more present and I feel like it affects your performance if you're not present.
So that's probably the number one thing that I took away. But also journaling has helped me a lot. So that's one thing that I learned as well. I had a sports psychologist say that you can't, I'm gonna not word this correctly, but basically you can't have anxiety and be grateful at the same time it's separate parts of your brain.
So when you're journaling and writing something down then, and saying like, oh, I'm grateful for this, and you won't have that sense of anxiety. So for me, journaling has been really important. I do that every morning especially before races. I'll journal my goals and I'm super into that. So I think those are kind of the biggest takeaways that I consistently do in my everyday.
So amazing. I mean there's still a stigma around using a sports psychologist and we're really trying to crush that stigma and that narrative at voice and sports. Mm-hmm. . So if there's a girl listening out there today what would you say about encouraging them to potentially try a sports psychologist.
Now before you really maybe need it. Yeah, I
was gonna say, you don't have to need it, you don't have to have something wrong with you to need to go to psychologists. There's such a stigma around that, that you have to have anxiety or there's something wrong with you if you go there.
It's nothing like that at all. I mean, I think everybody can learn something. And you know, everybody's gonna go through a rut at some point of their life and I feel like already being kind of prepared and having certain things that you do to help your mental health can help you through that moment when it does happen.
I think it's important to journal and be present and do all these things when you're doing well. It doesn't have to be when you're kind of in a bad place. I think it's so important to keep doing it.
Cause that's what got you to the good place. And I feel like so many people, when they're feeling good, they stop all these things and then they kind of go down that slope again. And it's the cycle. So I think yeah, just so important for sure.
Oh, it's so powerful. I think you're, you're spot on.
I am definitely guilty of that, where when I'm feeling good and I'm in a good space, I totally forget some of those self-care routines.
So for you, what are your go-to self-care routines that you always incorporate in your routines each week? Yeah,
so I also had a psychologist talk to me about, you know, cause I kind of said, you know, I don't really do any self care or, I guess stuff for myself. And he is like, well, you know, what do you like doing during the day?
Cause I was kinda like, well, I don't have time for a facial or massage or all this stuff. And I was like, well, I like getting lunch with my team or hanging out with my team. And he is like, well, why don't you just go and do that every day spend time, get lunch with your friends.
And it doesn't have to be a facial or something. if talking to people makes you happy or getting lunch with somebody makes you happy. If going for a walk makes you happy, then that can be your self-care. It doesn't have to make somebody else happy. I mean, somebody else might think going to lunch with a bunch of people is the worst thing ever. They might want alone time, so yeah, I think self-care is wet makes you happy, wet during your day is relaxing and makes you smile.
And that's how I look at my self-care. I love
that. It's very personal, right? Yeah. It's super personal and it doesn't have to be one thing or the other, but taking the time and the moment in the space to do things that you enjoy and that fill your buckets is what we like to talk about at voice and Sport
Yes. We also have a great article on the boys and support platform about free self-care routines, free things you can do for self-care. Cuz it doesn't have to be these $200 massages,
you know, as Exactly, you know. Exactly. Yeah. And I think. Almost for me, I think sometimes yoga or a facial that gives me almost more anxiety.
I like to be up and doing something. So I do think it's very personal to like what you like to do. Love
One of the things that we work on at Voice and Sport is really to try to build confidence in young girls. We know that it is one of the reasons why young girls are dropping outta sport around that age of 13 and 14. So I would love to talk to you about confidence, how you found confidence, but also if you ever struggled with confidence in your journey and what advice you'd have for young girls today that might be feeling like they're missing that confidence.
Yeah. Confidence is so important in any sport and honestly in any industry. obviously for sports, you need to be physically prepared, but also being mentally prepared is so important and confidence is a very big part of that. I feel like if you're not confident in what you're doing or confident that you're gonna win, then you're not gonna win.
So I think for me, the biggest thing, I mean, I still struggle with confidence to this day. I'm not always confident. Like some tracks, I'll go into them. I'm like, oh, I didn't do well here last time, so I'm not as confident going to this race track where sometimes you're in this rut where you're not performing as well, or maybe you lost some games and you're kind of in this rut where you're not confident.
And I feel like it's hard to get out of that because for me personally, I'm very result based. My confidence is very much on results. So if I have a bad race, I'm not gonna be confident. And if my next race is good, I'll be confident. But if you keep having bad results and your confidence is based off of results, then you're always gonna be kind of in that cycle. So I think the biggest thing for me is always to set little goals with my team. And it's not always to win. Obviously everybody wants to win, but you can do everything in your power perfectly and still not win a, especially with racing, there's so many different variables you can have wrong pit stops, somebody else could wreck, you can get a flat tire. So for me, the way that I moved away from having my confidence, so based on results is setting smaller goals that aren't really result related. Maybe it's I'm gonna work on this part of my technique and I'll just sit down with my crew chief and set these goals.
Or maybe I'm gonna qualify at this lap time or at this position, or just different things like that. Or maybe I'm gonna communicate with my crew chief better, give better feedback. So just setting goals that aren't so solely based on results and more just about your craft and what you're trying to achieve.
Cause I feel like once you have. all that together. Then once the pieces come together, then you know you'll win or have a good result. But I think you just need to make sure that all that kind of stuff is in line and you're not getting all everything else affected just solely cuz you're upset about a result.
Absolutely. Well and if you're a young girl out there that is listening to you, cuz you, you are very accomplished in your sport, right? You have become the most winningest female. 2018 in US Auto Club with, with 18 wins . You also became the first Arab female NASCAR driver. Mm-hmm. making your debut at Daytona in 2021.
And you have all these incredible things that you're also doing off the track. Mm-hmm. . And so somebody might look at you and say, well, she must have the most confidence , she must have the highest confidence. Right. Like, what, what's going on here? So what would you say to those young girls out there that are listening to you now talking about this?
Because I think it is so important for young women also to hear from role models like you and understand that confidence is something that you have to work towards too. Right. And it's a mindset. Mm-hmm. of how you're also approaching yourself and how you think about yourself. So when you were struggling with confidence how do you turn it back on? How do you get it back? Because we all have those dips,
like you said. Yeah, definitely. It's funny cause I feel like the times where I almost seem the most confident I really wasn't. I remember I got my two biggest campaigns of my lifetime and I was in such a rut at that time of confidence.
I feel like I was so insecure and I wasn't confident. I just did gap in Victoria's Secrets. You would think that she's confident, she just did all these campaigns that are massive. And for me I think it really stemmed from feeling that I almost didn't deserve it or I just got it cuz I got lucky and not.
Based off of actually accomplishing things. So one thing that I made that helped me was a little brag sheet. And basically I wrote down all my accomplishments on it and I put it on my fridge and I was like, I don't care who comes to my house and sees that I have this brag sheet with all these things.
You know, this helps me every morning to see it. And I had all my accomplishments. And I think once you write everything that you've accomplished down, you don't realize how much you do because you're always going for the next thing and the next thing. I feel like athletes are always setting that new goal.
It's like they win. It's like, oh, I don't care. I wanna win the next one. So I feel like you're always moving that goal post. You don't realize what you're actually achieving in the moment. So I feel like for me, writing everything down, I was like, I just accomplished all these things that I've dreamed of ever since I was little.
So something that helped me was just writing that and just seeing, visibly, okay, I accomplished all this stuff.
Yeah, I love that. I'm gonna write a brag sheet cuz I also feel like it's really important to take those moments and reflect about what you've done, right? Not just about your goals for the future, but what have you accomplished.
And sometimes it's as like competitive, you know, women in sport. We just wanna keep crushing the next goal and the next goal. And it's really hard to enjoy the moment, stay in the present, which I know you've been working on. And then also look at what you've done and say, wow, okay let's appreciate that.
It's hard to do that though. So how do you make sure you're doing that as an athlete today? how do you bring that into your routine every week? Yeah,
I think the biggest thing is I start my morning journaling and I'll write down what I'm grateful for and my thoughts and I think the biggest thing is just right now what you're grateful for.
And I think that's helped me in starting my morning in such a positive way, I think kind of puts me in the right step for the day. I feel like if I journaled in the middle of the day, then I've had the worst morning ever and then I'm doing it. But I feel like if you do it in the morning, it kind of sets up your day nicely.
And yeah, for me that's kind of how I do. And I just remember every morning I eat my breakfast, I journal and yeah, I feel like that just kind of starts my morning off on the right.
I love it. Well, you mentioned Victoria's Secret. Mm-hmm. and Gap and some of the incredible partnerships that you have built over the last few years.
So I wanna dive into a little bit of that because you are in a challenging environment already. It's pretty male dominated sport. Very male dominated sport. Yeah. , maybe not just pretty, but very male dominated sport. So how do you approach your sponsorships and who you choose to
Yeah. I think it's important to partner with brands who you really feel like you guys have the same morals and the same goals and what really reflect you? For me, I don't partner with brands that I wouldn't actually use their product. you know, you wanna partner somebody that you love their product or you actually believe in their messaging or what they're trying to do.
So I think you definitely need to be really vibing with each other, honestly. And if something isn't true to you, don't take it because that's what you're putting out there to other people. And I feel like it's so obvious when somebody's promoting a product or a brand that doesn't actually use their product.
So I feel like just being super authentic with who you're gonna partner with is really important. . But yeah, sponsorship is very important for all females in sports. So yeah, I think just be authentic to yourself and don't always be trying to get a bag, I guess.
well, and you're working with an agent.
Mm-hmm. . So what advice do you have for young girls when it comes to finding and then selecting an agent?
I would say I got very fortunate with finding my agent. I had a friend who had an agent, got introduced to her and then got super, super lucky. But I know some people it's hard to navigate and I honestly, I got so fortunate with mine that I feel like some people get stuck with really bad agents, so, , you know, asking other people for advice or if your friend has an agent, I feel like people are pretty open.
If somebody asks me for advice with their agent or a contractor or something, I'd be pretty open about it. So I think just reaching out to other people and not being shy about, Hey, does this look right to you? Or how is your deal structured with your agent is important? And yeah, don't be shy about.
Love that. Okay. Well, you know, you've clearly had some great success with your agents and also moving forward into campaigns. And in September you announced that you were the newest Victoria's Secret model. Now for some of us who've been around for a really long time, Victoria's Secret hasn't always been the most inclusive brand.
Mm-hmm. when it comes to body, body types. And messaging quite honestly about what is beautiful and at this, a big part of what we're trying to do is, again, change the narrative about what is beautiful and. All bodies are beautiful.
Mm-hmm. , and I think the
Victoria's Secret is really trying to pivot and move forward in a new direction.
And part of that was bringing in you into this environment and into this brand. So, you know, I know one of your first Instagram posts you wrote about this, you said, little me is crying . And growing up I struggled a lot with body confidence, and this past year I focused on my mental and physical health over appearance.
So bring me back to that decision to move forward with Victoria's Secret. And what it meant to you in that moment, especially when it talks about confidence, since we know that was something that you personally struggled with and now here you are the face of this
Yeah. So for me growing up, I mean, everybody knows Victoria's Secret and they have all these beautiful picture perfect models. And I feel like lately they've done every rebranding and they've really shown that. You know, beauty isn't just having like perfect hair and perfect skin, everybody's beautiful, every body's beautiful.
Your body isn't a trend. And I feel like for me, when I first initially met with them, we discussed their rebranding and how excited I was about that they're having these different athletes on there and just different women who aren't. The stereotypical picture, perfect model. And even those girls are pretty, but I think there's just such a stigma around, I guess you could say athletes or people that wouldn't traditionally model and all this stuff.
So I feel like there's been a lot of rebranding and it's exciting to see how open the brand is to welcoming so many different people to be the face of their brand because I feel like it's so much more inclusive. So it's really exciting and I've really enjoyed working with them.
It's been a really great environment and yeah, it's really, really cool to be a part of such a brand. Especially when I was little. I thought Victoria's Secret was so cool and everything like that. So yeah, no, I think, I think it's important. I feel like a lot of brands are moving in the direction of being more inclusive, so I think it's a really exciting.
Yeah, that's great.
I'd love to see that they're shifting and that you're part of that and that you're being vocal about the importance of inclusion and body positivity. It goes a long way because you have a huge influence, right? You have a massive following with over 2.7 million followers across your social media channels.
So one that's pretty big audience for you to make a very impactful statement about what it means to be beautiful. And I think that you're in a great position. Positively influenced so many young girls. So if there was one thing that you could whisper to girls out there about bodies and body confidence, what would it be?
I would say the biggest thing I feel like so many people say, and it sounds so overdone at this point, but truly don't compare your body to other people. If you're healthy, you're strong. And if your body is doing, you know, if you're in your sport and your body, you're able to kick the ball really far for me, I'm able to drive a race car.
Well, so I feel like if your body is doing that and you are getting stronger and everything like that, your body's perfect. Your body isn't a trend. You don't need to look at all these people who probably Photoshop their photos and everything like that. I think if you're just strong and you're healthy, that's the most important thing and your body's beautiful.
I think it's very much about how you feel and not necessarily what you see in the mirror. And it's easier said than done for sure.
Love that. It's a great message. And I also just wanna talk about that comparison because I think that's when it comes to social media and kind of today, that's hard because everybody's constantly getting images thrown at them. And I feel like the relationship with social media could be really unhealthy if you're not really prioritizing, not comparing yourself to other people.
But it's easier said than done. So what advice do you have to other young girls out there to ensure that they have a healthy relationship with social
media? Yeah, I think if you need to block certain accounts or unfollow certain people for your mental health, then a hundred percent do that. You have to be looking out for yourself.
If your explore page is triggering for you, then just stay on who you're following. Like for me, if I'm just going through TikTok, I don't go to my for you page, I go with who I'm following, you know? So I think you just have to put yourself in the right position, cuz there's always gonna be people posting things on social media that might be triggering or harmful to your mental health.
So I think just setting yourself up in a position to where you can still use your social media, but it's not just constantly popping up is really helpful.
Tony, in an interview with Women in Motorsport, you talked about gaining respect from people.
You said, even if you don't want them to see you as any different people do see you as different. And you mentioned this, that it's hard to gain respect from some people, and you do sometimes get comments, but you need to have the confidence in yourself to be able to block those comments out.
So how do you gain respect especially from men in a sport that's so male dominated and make sure that they're taking you seriously along the way?
Sure. I mean, I think the biggest thing for me, especially when, I moved to North Carolina and I'm racing against all these people I've never raced against before.
They don't know what I can do on the track. So I think I lacked respect them, but then it's like, okay, well let me show you what I can do on the race track. And I think just showing performance-wise, helps gain that respect. But also some people, they're never gonna respect you. No matter how many games you win or how great you are or how many races you win, they're just not gonna respect you.
And you have to be confident in yourself and just know, that even though you deserve the respect, if they're not gonna respect you, don't let that get to you. know your value and how great you are and the skill sets you have, be confident in that. So I think there is gonna be people that do not respect you, but just having that confidence in yourself is the biggest.
Well you know, you've said before that representation is really important and at this we really believe that seeing your role models and having access to them is so critical. So for you who have been your role models and how did you find women role models in the sport of race car driving?
I definitely believe that seeing is believing.
I think if you can see somebody achieving something or doing something that you wanna do, then that just motivates you that much more because you see them doing it. And I think with racing there hasn't been that many females that have been able to move up through the ranks. I think the Aica Patrick is the most notable one.
And when I was younger I definitely looked up to her and I think she was the first female I saw in Motorsports and I was like, she's doing it, I can do it. And I think once she retired, I was older at that point and I honestly looked to some of my peers and I kind of used the females that I was racing with or.
You know, if they're in a different series, I'm like, oh, that's cool that they're in that series above me. And not really seeing them as a role model, but kind of seeing like, hey, they're doing it. I can do it. So I think if you're in a space where there isn't that one female that's, making all these changes and breaking barriers and everything it might be people still at the lower ranks around you that you can kind of find motivation.
And even I've made friends like female race, car driver friends that inspire me just to hang out with them. So I think it doesn't always have to be that one person that everyone's looking up to. It could be from your friends or people around you, people that you know are on the same level as you.
Doesn't have to be somebody that you put on a pedestal in a sense.
I totally agree. And, role models can come from everywhere, right? So it's so important, especially male dominated sports to be open to seeing where are those other women and how can we help each other?
With that in mind, who would you love to shout out as another woman driver and what do you admire about
Yeah, well Julia, who you've had on the podcast before, she's really amazing and she's somebody that I look up to cuz she does have a little bit more experience than me in motor sports.
So she's really cool and I feel like she's always so open to giving advice and very knowledgeable. Even through social media, I know different girls and it's just cool. Even if you don't see them in person at the racetrack, I think social media is so great in that sense, like can connect with so many different people even around the world that are in the same industry as you.
Yeah, if you can just be open to other females in your space, I think that just opens up so many people to conversations and being open to you and you guys can really kind of rally together and help each other out. .
That's right. I mean, it's better than the alternative, which is treating each other as hardcore competitors and believing that there's only one spot for one woman, right?
We wanna kind of crush that narrative and say, Hey, let's lift each other up. How can we support each other? I think that is so important and I'd love to see that you and Julia do that for each other. And I think it would be really cool if you know three women, yeah, three women, three women race car drivers and you could say, you know, shout out to Julie, I admire you because of this.
Shout out to so-and-so. I admire you because of this.
I wanna say shout out to Julia. I love, you know, how open she is to always giving people advice. I think she's really cool and I admire her work ethic. Shout out to Amber.
I competed against Amber all season this year. We were the only females in our series to run a full season, and I really admire her work ethic. And if one of us had a bad raise, we were always the first ones there and I really feel like we bonded over the fact that we're kind of in the same boat going through the same thing.
So she's always been super open to me and didn't treat me as a competitor in a sense. And then also shout outs. Isabella, she's another one of my teammates. I really admire her work ethic in the gym. I am always like, I need to get on a, a develops level. She's always training and she's just somehow good at everything.
So yeah, I definitely look up to all of them in different.
I love that. Thank you for sharing that. I think it's so important to just show some love to each other, you know? Especially in the sports that are where there just isn't as many women.
Okay. Well we talked about the power of role models. What kind of role model do you wanna continue to be for the next generation?
I feel like in a way I almost don't ever wanna be your typical role model in the sense that somebody puts me on a pedestal.
I always wanna be somewhat access to both to younger girls and I want them to think that I'm their friend or something that they can go to for advice. I love in, you know, answering dms and like, giving advice to younger girls or if they come up to me. You know, if I can inspire people and if girls look up to me or anything like that. I think that's really amazing and that's exciting, but I don't want 'em to think that what I'm doing is so farfetched or on this giant pedestal. I want 'em to think they can come to me and talk to me and get advice and we're all just friends.
Yeah. I love that. I'm sure after this podcast you're gonna be getting very, a lot of dms. I love
I love it. . . Amazing. Okay. Well, when you think about the future of women's sports and specifically race car driving, what do you hope that future looks like for young women that wanna get into
the sport of racing?
I think the biggest way to get more females involved, whether it's in Motorsports, whether it's in the driving aspect or crew Jeep aspect or a mechanic, anything that, there's so many different roles within motorsports, but I think the biggest thing to get females in is for the females currently in, welcome everybody with open arms.
And I think another thing is I feel like people tend to pit other females against each other. which females did the best in their race, or they're always just comparing females to females. If there's two female reporters or two female drivers or crew chiefs, they're always pitted against each other.
And I think. We almost need to ignore that and rally with each other and make it so much more of a welcoming and opening space. So younger girls looking in are like, wait, this is awesome. They're all friends, they're all supporting each other. Cause I feel like if it's not welcoming, then why would anybody else wanna join?
So I kind of feel like that is one way we can kind of resolve that, but with ourselves,
I love it. Well, if you're a young girl out there today and you don't see a clear path to getting into the sport, what would you like to share with that young girl about how she could get in and how she could break through?
I mean, I always say create your own path. There's so many different ways to get to where you wanna go, and nobody's path is the same. I mean, I wasted so much time when I was younger worrying about what everyone's doing and they did this at this age, or they're doing this right now. And I just did my own path and it still worked out.
So I think you can't be so caught up in what other people are doing. Everybody has their own journey. Everyone has their own path. . So don't hold yourself to replicating what somebody else just did. Just it sounds scary to pave your own path. But you can do, everybody can do it. They did it, so why can't you?
Yeah. Love that. Well, since we're gonna wrap up, I want you to think about what is your one single piece of advice that you would tell a younger girl in sport
So I think this kind of circles back to everything I said, and I would say don't be afraid to be the first you and. . Yeah. I, I get one.
But yeah, don't be afraid. . Yeah. Don't be afraid to be first you. Yeah. Say that again. I love it. Like, don't be afraid to be the first you and pave your own path. Have that confidence in yourself. Don't compare yourself to other people. Just be the first, you don't try to be anybody else.
Yeah. I love that so much.
I love that. And what is one thing that you'd like to see changed for the future of women's sports?
I would say I hate the stigma of you have to have a certain body type or appearance to do certain sports or if you're tall, you do basketball or whatever it may be.
I think you can do it like you don't have to fit this body standard. I think that's so lame. And everybody has a body. You know, if you are strong, if you are healthy, 📍 you can use your body in those same ways and it doesn't have to fit in appearance-wise. I think that's so lame. You don't have to be a certain height, you don't have to be a certain weight.
You can still go do whatever you wanna do. So yeah, , that's what I like to see change. It's just the stigma around body types and certain sports.
I love that. I love that. Thank you so much Tony. I think you have such an incredible future in the sport of racing, but also outside of sport. And I'm excited to see the things that you're gonna continue to do.
So thank you for being on the Voice and Sport
podcast with us for having you. It was so fun.
This week's episode was produced and edited by Kate Tugman, a cross country and track and field athlete at ucla. Tony reminds us to always be true to yourself no matter what you're dealing with, whether it's judgment from others in your sport or landing brand deals.
She also teaches us that it's okay for our journey in sport to not follow a specific timeline and to focus on creating your own path. We're so grateful to have . We're so grateful to have Tony as part of the Viz community, so please share this episode with a friend that you think might enjoy the conversation.
And if you liked our conversation with Tony, please leave us a rating and review on Apple and Spotify. You can click the share button on the platform and quickly send it to any of your friends. You can also follow Tony on Instagram at Tony Bride.
And if you're logged in to the voice and Sport platform, head over to the feed and check out our article about how to navigate toxic positivity in team environments.
Take a look at the sessions page and sign up for one of our free or paid mentorship sessions with 200 plus viz mentors, , including race car driver, Julia Landauer, and 80 of our vis experts. , If you're interested in exploring more about the world of motor sports and the incredible women drivers in the sport, please check out episode number 95, champion Race Car Driver on sexism, fighting for sponsorships and training for a four hour race with Julia Landauer, and see you next week on The Voice and Sport Podcast.
Toni Breidinger is a Professional NASCAR Race Car Driver for Venturi Motorsports where she drives a number 25 Toyota Camry. She has the most wins for women in United States