Julia Landauer walks into Waterbean Coffee on Jetton Road in Cornelius. Her appearance doesn’t demand attention. A brown-haired, blue-eyed beauty, for sure, but not flauntingly so. She arrives dressed in light brown corduroy jeans, a dark gray sweater, and old converse sneakers. It’s not her good looks that turn heads as she walks in the coffee house—or on to the racetrack, for that matter.It’s in the way she walks: An assertive step, brisk but evenly measured, a piercing look, and an unwavering presence packaged with a serene smile. She’s got swagger.Landauer, 23, who resides at Marina Shores in Cornelius, admits she hasn’t always been so self-assertive. She says she’s forever indebted to her former World Karting Championship Coach Glenn Butler for teaching her a valuable lesson in self-confidence.
A Lesson in BelievingThe 13-year racing veteran took to the wheel early on, like she was born in the driver’s seat, racing go-karts along with her younger siblings Emma and Aidan from 10 years old at Oakland Valley Race Park in Cudderbackville, N.Y.Her coach, 49-year-old Glenn Butler of Toronto, Canada said her technical skills weren’t the problem, it was the way she carried herself. “She was very timid at a young age. Her competitors didn’t even notice her.”One day, while coaching her at a qualifying match in Florida, Butler pulled her aside and talked to her about her presence. “Do you see how they (competitors) walk by you without even noticing you’re there? Let them know that you are a force to be reckoned with—stand tall and show them who you really are.”Moving forward, Landauer says, his advice stuck and has helped her tackle other difficult situations, on and off the track.
Trailblazer for WomenIn 2006, Julia added formula car racing to her schedule, competing dually in the Skip Barber Racing Series and the World Karting Association.At age 13, not only was she dealing with the middle school blues, but she was also forced to face another challenge.“Being one of the only females in a male-dominated sport, there were times when I definitely felt left out, especially with the camaraderie among the guys,” she says.“Unfortunately, it still happens. I know I don’t want special treatmentWomen just want the same opportunities and respect.”Respect was earned and Landauer became the first woman to win the Skip Barber Racing Series at 14 years old, after 31 years of series competition.Pushing Her LimitsIf anything, her career in racing only propelled her love of extreme competition. So it’s no surprise that Landauer enthusiastically accepted CBS’ offer to appear as a contest on Survivor’s 26th installment, Survivor: Caramoan – Fans vs. Favorites.At 21 years old, nationwide viewers watched as she made it almost halfway through the season before getting casted off in April last year.“I have a love/hate relationship with Survivor I loved the physical exertion, but it was emotionally exhausting dealing with outrageous interactions between cast members.”Given the opportunity, she says she would leap across platforms in the Philippines again. “Survivor taught me that I can hurt and keep going.”
More than a DriverPursuing an education was important to Landauer. After graduating with honors from Stuyvesant High School in New York City, she decided to let racing take the “side” seat by competing only part-time in NASCAR’s Late Model/Whelen Series and the U.S. Legend Car Series to attend Stanford University.She just completed her Bachelor’s in Science degree, concentrating on Science, Technology and Society this spring.Landauer says she loved to find a way to professionally fuse her love of racing with technology that connects drivers more directly with their fans.
Staying GroundedLandauer says when she’s not on the track, she likes to be on-foot, running and taking in nature’s beauty.Three to four afternoons a week she runs trails at Cornelius’ Jetton Park. Her father, Steve Landauer, Chief of the Department of Anesthesiology at Jersey City Medical Center in Jersey City, N.J. says he encouraged his kids to run for exercise and stress relief from an early age. “I had all three of our kids get exercise by having them run around our farm, starting with 1/2 mile at age 6, and steadily adding distances, so by age 12, they were running 8-minute miles for 3 miles. “Landauer says her father is the reason race fans may catch her sprinting between garages before a race. “It helps me get rid of anxiety and focus on the race.”
Finishing LapLandauer’s life has been in the fast lane for as long as she can remember and she doesn’t plan on slowing down now. She’s entering her third year in the U.S. Legend Car Racing Series and her second year with Coach CJ D’Addario, Jr. and 860 Motorsports of Mooresville. Her goal is to become a NASCAR Sprint Cup driver, but with only 43 drivers in the series, she says making the cut will be the ultimate challenge.She looks forward, sitting up straight, shoulders erect, and head held high, she says, “If something is terrifying and amazing, you should pursue it.” www.860racing.com, www.julialandauer.com
Winning WorkoutRunning outside 3 miles per day for 3 to 4 days per week.Strength training 30 to 45 minutes per day, six days per week, concentrating on her arms, chest, neck, back, and core.Here are some examples of exercise that help Landauer maintain muscle strength while racing:For neck exercises, Julia lies on a bench with her head and neck off the edge and lifts it. Several sets of 10 to 15 reps, depending on strength.Squats that advance into shoulder presses, 1 to 2 sets at 10 to 15 reps.Barbell weight and hold/turn it like I’m steering a car, 30 to 60 seconds.Planks, 3 times for 1 to 2 minutes.Horizontal chest press, 1 to 2 sets 15 reps.
Racing HistoryGo-Karts, 2004-2006Skip Barber Racing Series, Formula Car, 2006Team KMA Racing, Formula BMW USA, 2007Bob East Racing, USAC Ford Focus Midgets, 2008Bill McAnally Racing, NASCAR Late Model Stock Car, 2009Sellers Racing, NASCAR Late Model Stock Car, 2010-2011Dan Snyder Racing, US Legend Car, 2012Jimmie Walker Racing and 860 Motorsports, US Legend Car, 2013860 Motorsports, US Legend Car, 2014