The NASCAR Racer: Deborah
Renshaw-Parker, 30 Automotive Expert Heading up our Panel of Expert
women Featured in Redbook Magazine in May!
HER HIGH-WIRE ACT
Deborah Renshaw-Parker’s office is a candy-apple red Dodge pickup. The 12-year NASCAR racer is one of only two women who compete in the Craftsman Truck Series, and on the track, she trusts her split-second reaction time to help her maneuver around every sharp turn and truck wreck ahead of her -- at speeds of up to 200 mph.
But Renshaw-Parker’s stress isn’t limited to her time behind the wheel. “My husband and I live our weekends in a traveling motor home -- and when I step out of it on race day, I hit the ground running,” says this tough competitor from Bowling Green, KY. (Her husband is the motorsports director for a NASCAR team.) “There are driver meetings, radio interviews -- my day keeps going until the race starts.”
HER STAY-CALM SECRETS
See the future. The second she wakes up on the day of a race, Renshaw-Parker takes a few minutes to mentally run through the chaotic -- and electrifying -- hours ahead. “I visualize everything that’s coming up,” she says. “I see myself setting up, practicing, and placing in the top 15.”No matter how much the pressure builds while she’s racing, this imagery keeps her calm and centered. “If I visualize top results, I’ll get top results,” she says.
Plan ahead. Of course, visualization will only get you so far when you’re thisclose to driving your truck into a concrete barrier. Knowing that she’s prepared for trouble long before it strikes helps Renshaw-Parker chill out when 30 other pickups are swarming around her. “I make sure to keep my safety equipment in tip-top shape,” she says. “Knowing I can rely on my helmet, fireproof gloves and shoes, and neck-support system keeps me relatively calm and focused while I’m on the track.” What’s the lesson for you? Whether you’re juggling your kids’ after-school schedules or tackling deadlines at the office, don’t deny yourself the tools that can make your life work better -- from your PDA to your Diaper Genie.
Know when to let go. When her what-if fears do start to get the better of her, Renshaw-Parker calls on a little fatherly wisdom she’s been given. “My dad is the most positive person on the planet,” she says, reciting one of his most comforting adages: “Don’t worry about things you can barely control.” Once she lets herself accept that there are certain pressures she’s powerless against, Renshaw-Parker can focus on the factors she does control.
Tune out the tension. A favorite piece of music can transport you far away from even the most nerve-jangling situations. When on-the-job stress reaches its boiling point, Renshaw-Parker turns down the heat by popping in her earphones. “My brother burns me CDs of motivational music -- everything from country to Eminem,” she says. “I’ll download them to my iPod and take it with me on practice and testing days.”
Put it on paper. Jotting down a to-do list before a race gives Renshaw-Parker peace of mind, because it ensures that no details will slip through the cracks. “Once I accomplish each task, I can mark it off my list -- and out of my brain,” she says.