Johanna Long is a true driver.
From her background to her mindset, she knows the ups and downs of the sport, especially when she runs for ML Motorsports, who is currently seeking sponsorship. She doesn’t expect anyone to pull aside and let her pass by. It’s all about focus and the future.
“This sport is all about looking forward, not backwards. I set goals for myself and try my best to reach them one race at a time . . . you can’t dwell on the negative, you have to shake it off and move forward.”
The future is coming up fast, but Long keeps going.
While many are set on winning, she is aiming to improve in each race. “This whole year is about progressing and improving as much as I possibly can. As a rookie in the Nationwide Series, there is a lot that I have to learn, but I feel like each race that I go to, I’m learning, gaining experience and improving.” Having someone to help you along the way, she added, helps too. “It also helps to have veterans like David Green [her spotter/driver coach] on your team. He has helped me out tremendously this year with adapting to the new cars and tracks.”
In the few starts she has made this season, Johanna is making gains, capturing two Top Fifteen finishes in her last three races, which includes her highest result of 12th. Her next start is slated for this coming Sunday at Chicagoland.
Her finishes aren’t the only thing drawing attention to the 20-year-old. The fact that she is a woman racing in NASCAR is also turning heads. When Long thinks of her self, though, all she sees is a driver.
“. . . there’s no hiding the fact that I’m a female competing in a male-dominated sport, but it’s the profession that I chose, so I knew exactly what I was getting myself into . . . when I strap into my car, I’m not considered a “girl” driver, I’m just a race car driver competing against 43 others. At the end of the day, I evaluate myself as a driver, and I think most people do the same.”
This mentality is one she inherited from her father, who told her at a young age, if you want to be a good girl driver, then you might as well hang up your helmet. She also states he is why she is racing today. “If it wasn’t for [my dad], I wouldn’t have gotten my very first shot behind the wheel of a go-kart at age 8. I looked up to him when he was racing in Late Models and I always wanted to be just like him. He has been one of my biggest mentors, fans, he has been my coach and of course, my dad. I don’t know what I would do without him.”
When asked about the next generation of young racers, Johanna offered up this bit of advice: “No matter what obstacles you may face in your career, keep digging. If you have a dream, do everything in your power to reach it. It’s a mind game. If you can see it and believe it, then you can achieve it!” Very heartfelt advice from a driver who’s still young herself.
As for sponsorship opportunities, she stated that she isn’t picky, including, “All I can say is that I would be very appreciative and thankful for any sponsor.”
For now, Johanna Long keeps chipping away, achieving small goals and making even bigger personal gains. Her down to earth demeanor and passion for racing fuels her dreams.
That’s what makes her a true driver.