Meet Tia Norfleet, a Suffolk, VA native who is the world’s first black, female NASCAR driver.
Norfleet was recently featured in an interview in Harper's Bazaar as part of their One Woman series by THINX, which spotlights women who rely on endurance and adaptability to get through the work day.
“I’ve had the side eyes,” Norfleet told Harper's Bazaar of her public reception. “I’ve had the ‘What is she doing? Where does she think she’s going?’ Just being a woman period is already a hard job. So being a woman in a male dominated sport allows me to bring out that inner beast, but gracefully. ”
Tia owes her love of cars and racing to her father, who was also a NASCAR driver, and who encouraged her love for driving at a young age.
“He tricked out my Barbie Corvette,” Tia remembers from when she was 5-years-old. “He put a car battery in it, a radio, signal lights, and everything like a working car. And the rest is history.”
Tia practices for two or three hours at a time in the car, in the same position at top level speeds where G-force is hitting her body in intense amounts. Her body has to be strong, and enduring. But it is her strong spirit both in and out of the car that makes Norfleet inspirational.
Norfleet struggles with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), which causes those who have it to suffer from small cysts on the ovaries, as well as heavy and irregular periods.
“For me being a driver, I could be in the car and boom, I don’t know when, where, how, but my period will come on,” Norfleet said. “I need protection and to make sure I’m not going to mess up my facing suit that costs $1,600. I’m not going to be caught slipping.”
When thinking of those who are watching, Norfleet hopes she can empower others through her platform.
“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.’”