An examination of the Johanna Long story reminds us it takes more than just talent to race at NASCAR’s highest level. If it were all just about talent, she would be a fixture.
The just turned 22 year old is seeking sponsorships in an effort to get back into a NASCAR ride. In the meanwhile, the Pensacola, Florida native is getting seat time racing at Five Flags Speedway. Late Model racing at the local track is a long ways removed from the big time, but that what’s available as she continues pursuing her lifelong passion.
When ML Motorsports shut down its Nationwide Series racing operation, it put the yellow flag out for the 2010 Snowball Derby winner’s path to glory. It’s not that Long didn’t prove herself able while racing in the NNS. Maybe you didn’t hear a lot about her, but in some ways, that’s a good thing when you’re starting out. In Long’s case, it meant she wasn’t creating cautions, collecting cars and drawing the ire of veteran drivers. When she moved Landon Cassill out of the way for her Snowball win, he said Long was one newer tires, and running faster, and it was a “racing deal.” Learning under the guidance of NASCAR veteran David Green, the racer who started in go karts at age eight, was doing many of the things an aspiring driver does to improve and fulfill their potential.
Everything Johanna Long has given the racing fan a glimpse into suggests this isn’t about blazing trails as a female race car driver; it’s about working diligently towards taking her talents as far as they will permit her to. In prior interviews, Long says she hasn’t put time into the youthful pursuits of romance, because it can get in the way of her big picture goals. She’s working out, making lifestyle adjustments and making the sacrifices one makes when they are honed in on what Curly called the “one thing” in the movie “City Slickers.” All the spoils of fame and fortune follow the attainment of success on racing’s big stage.
If talent coupled with determination is all it takes, Johanna Long will make it and make it big. It will take more: stable and significant funding, competitive equipment, shrewd stewardship of her development as a competitor, and even a little good fortune. It takes all kinds to make the world, and that includes a sweet-natured, girl-next-door type who isn’t adverse to trading paint when the occasion calls for it. Until that break comes along, Johanna Long keeps soldiering on, taking care of what she can control, while not complaining about what she can’t.