Nalani Whatley Female Drag Racer>

Nalani Whatley began racing in 1998 at local street legal events at Pomona Raceway, Los Angeles County Raceway, California Speedway and even traveled to San Diego to participate in weekly events at Qualcomm Stadium as well as Carlsbad Raceway. While competing heavily in the bracket class, Nalani was able to achieve consistent ET’s and perfect reaction times. Beginning her career as a pro racer in 2007, Nalani started the season in the winner’s circle while attending the IDRC West Coast Nationals. In one single event, Nalani ran her first 12-second, 11-second and 10-second pass!

Who have you mentored who did someone mentor you in this industry to help you get started?
I have been fortunate to have several mentors throughout my career. One particular woman that has guided me with my career decisions is Gina Callari, the LA Auto Show Director of Administration. Gina has been a part of the automotive industry longer than me and has been an amazing mentor in my success at the LA Auto Show.

As a woman what features are your favorites in a car?

The most important feature that I prefer in a car is the horsepower and torque. My first car was a 1990 Honda CR-X. It was the HF model and had very little horsepower and torque. With little to no power it was very challenging to get on the freeway. With that, I have always been a fan that can “pick up and go!”

Why does the auto industry seem like a difficult environment for females?
I wouldn’t say that the automotive industry is a “difficult” environment. It may become a little challenging at times but I would guess any industry you choose has challenges. Obviously the automotive industry is male dominant however, I have found that there are several women in the industry that are just as successful as men. In addition, I have been fortunate that my work environment allows women to grow and succeed within the automotive industry. Here at the LA Auto Show, both women and men have any equal responsibility in decision making.
Why did you want to work in the auto industry?
I fell in love with the industry after my first job at, the 1/8th mile street legal drags. After receiving my Bachelor’s my plan was to return to school to receive my teacher’s credential. However, the automotive industry sucked me in and I fell in love with it. Staying in the automotive industry allowed me to love my job while pursuing my career as a driver.
First automotive job?
My first automotive job was with, the 1/8th mile street legal drags in San Diego. I had just moved to San Diego to attend San Diego State University and was entering the racing scene. I started as a volunteer at and quickly earned a full time position as an administrative assistance. Shortly after that I became the Campus Car Club Director and traveled to the local high schools to educate students about street racing, the laws and the alternative while organizing and managing the evening 1/8th mile drag events.
Proudest professional achievement?
I have two proudest racing professional achievements. My first achievement was in 2007 at an IDRC 1/4 mile event at Palmdale. It was my first professional race and I accomplished my first 12-second, 11-second and 10-second 1/4 mile pass in one day. To top it off, I won the event with my 10.99 second pass.
My second achievement was completing my 9-second drag license. I had recently given birth to my first son and returned to the track in hopes to earn my 9-second license. It was a success with a 9.8 pass but quickly ended my race that evening as I broke the motor mounts.
Current challenge at work?
My current challenge at work is the commute. Traffic in Los Angeles can be a nightmare so my commute is 90 minutes each way however I am very fortunate in that I am able to work from home two times a week.
Dream job?

My dream job would include racing cars (preferably drag, however I would love to learn to road race or even drfit) and following a circuit throughout the United States with my family. At the time of building my race car, I wasn’t prepared (nor did I have the funds) to travel throughout the United States and follow the drag racing circuit. Once I was ready to race professionally my funds only allowed me to travel on to West Coast events. To earn a pay check while racing cars would be a dream come true.
What you do to relax?
Working full time along with raising two little boys keeps me busy. However when I do find a moment to relax (which isn’t often) I like to nap (un-interrupted) and read books. I love true crime novels, so curling up on the couch, in my pajamas, while reading a good book is very relaxing to me.

Read more about Nalani Whatley here.