Shauntia Latrice “Tia” Norfleet first became fascinated with car racing when her father enhanced her Barbie hot wheels’ toy car by doubling its battery power. At the age of 14, Norfleet began competing in kart racing events then drag raced at local and regional competitions.
In 2004, Norfleet became the first black woman to gain a NASCAR Late Model Series racing license. She’s also licensed by the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA).
Having her past scrutinized and a criminal record is not enough to deter Norfleet. “I think my story is still being written from when I started, to now, I think that what I stand for is so much bigger than me, coming into it, I thought I just wanted to race and then it turned into ‘I have to do this to open up doors for other people like me,” she told Black News.
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Even after licensure Norfleet cites funding as a challenge “From the business side, the biggest challenge is obtaining sponsorship,” said Norfleet. “A lot of people don’t understand the dynamics of how racing actually works.” “They think you get a license, you get qualified and you’re going to be in every race because you’re qualified, but that’s not the case.”
Nevertheless, Norfleet doesn’t know the definition of giving up.
“When all else failed and everybody kicked me to the curb, I stuck with what I believed in and I kept fighting,” Norfleet said. “What I stand for is something way bigger than me, so hopefully I am someone that someone can look up to and say, ‘She did it when no one else thought she would. She stuck with it until the end. She gave out before she gave up.”