Melissa Miller Female Drift Racer>

Melissa Miller has been into cars since she can remember, her dad had a Z car when she was little, which is one of the reasons she loves that car (the torque helps too!). Living in Minnesota at the time, she couldn’t wait to get her license and as soon as she turned 16, she was going to the tracks and 1/4 mile drag racing.

Who have you mentored who did someone mentor you in this industry to help you get started?
It’s hard to answer this question, I’ve always been into cars, and when I got my first ticket at age 14 with my friend Kali trying to take my moms 3 series to the drag races, I didn’t have anyone in particular that I was looking up to in the industry at that time, but I knew I wanted to be looked up to. When drag racing started to get boring I had a friend, Matt. He knew I would love drifting and told me I had to try it. So we traded seats in his early 90’s 240sx, and he attempted teaching me some basics-until I made a little dent in it with a tree.

Other than the help I would get on the track and with my car, there was never really a consistent mentor I could pinpoint, just the extremes of people who either wanted me to succeed or the negative people not thinking I could get very far and would try to hold me back.

As a woman what features are your favorites in a car?
Suspension, Steering, and Style, definitely not a smooth ride.

Why does the auto industry seem like a difficult environment for females?
I think females take things too personally and that it takes a certain personality and passion to really succeed in it.

Why did you want to work in the auto industry?
Nothing else interested me. I don’t think I would know what to do with myself if this industry didn’t exist. Before I even had my license I had my car sitting in the driveway with my friends listening to music and shifting the gears.

First automotive job?
First Automotive job was at Discount tire, well in Orange County and LA it’s called America’s Tire. I lived in Minnesota at the time, and I was 16. I remained working there, but changing locations to Tucson AZ, then to San Diego CA. As with everyone that works for that company, I started out in the back room, working on the cars, changing the tires, balancing, etc. I was working in the back room for about 4 years before I had a manager put me up to the showroom to start selling. To this day I could tell you the features and benefits of the majority of the tires out there, some facts you’d least expect too. I would use my experience with tires from my days at the track, and bring it to work. My favorite thing to do there was to help the customers who saw me as a girl, and wanted a ‘man’ to help them… I would often insist on helping them, not to profile, but the majority of these people would be men with American cars over 50. By the end of the transaction they would often be pleasantly surprised of my knowledge and would return asking only for me.

Proudest professional achievement?
I used to have a Nissan 350z. I was competing at a ‘Drift Buffet’ event at Orange Show Speedway in San Bernadino, and my goal that day was just to get the rear end of my car as close to the wall as I could throughout the track. By mid-day I had scraped the paint of the rear bumper. It was awesome!

Current challenge at work?
I actually quit my job in September. The VP of the company told me I could have a few days off to film for a TV show on Speed channel, but when I needed the first day off, my manager told me I couldn’t. I didn’t want to go behind my managers back and talk to the VP so I thought about it overnight and came in to work the next day, asked again if I could have the day off-still a ‘no’ and I resigned. My goal…well I’ll leave that for the next question.

Dream job?
I moved to CA to get in the epicenter of the automotive scene. I figured filming for a show on Speed channel could help me get into doing what I really want to get into, having my own car show on a network.

What you do to relax?
Hot tub and Wii.

Learn more about Melissa Miller here on her website.