Life at 280 MPH

By Malia Márquez Gaffney

Julie Nataas' racecar

To say that Julie Nataas ’18 (Antioch Santa Barbara, BA in Liberal Studies), an Indiana-based NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster driver, leads a busy life, would be an understatement. On racetrack days, Nataas wakes up around 6 am. After a protein shake, supplements, and a recovery-day workout, she heads for the track. En route she stops off to grab a grande blonde roast—no cream, no sugar. By 9am, she’s caffeinated, excited, and ready to race. And she has to be sharp. In each heat, she pushes her dragster from 0 to over 250 miles per hour, all in under six seconds. To stop, she deploys a parachute.

“A lot of people focus on ‘you can be one of the best female drivers,’” says Nataas. “I’d rather be ‘the best driver there ever was.’” The twenty-two year-old has already made great strides towards this goal, winning multiple national events, racing for a top team, racking up sponsorships, and establishing herself as a top driver in this mixed-gender sport. This success is due in no small part to her own management of the business aspects of her career—skills she sharpened in the BA at Antioch Santa Barbara, where she concentrated in Marketing, Business, and Entrepreneurship.

When Nataas isn’t signing autographs for fans, mixing fuel for her car, or donning her fire suit, she’s networking, communicating with sponsors, or enjoying her daily chat with mom and dad in Norway. It’s important to maintain a balanced lifestyle—even when you’re living life at top speed!

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