English soccer’s boycott of social media gathers support from FIFA, UEFA

English soccer’s boycott of social media gathers support from FIFA, UEFA
English soccer’s boycott of social media gathers support from FIFA, UEFA

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - Interview: Arab-American NASCAR racer Toni Breidinger on breaking records and stereotypes

USA: Lebanese American Toni Breidinger is shattering stereotypes of Arab Americans and women, setting records as one of the winningest female race car drivers in the country and hoping to be a positive role model for the advance of the goals of young women.

As a guest on US Arab Radio Network’s  “The Ray Hanania Show” sponsored by Arab News - Breidinger chatted about her racing career in the NASCAR Cup Series (36 races over 10 months), including in the Xfinity Series, ARCA Menards West Series and recently at Talladega Superspeedway Sept. 24 where she hit a top speed of 185 miles per hour.

One of the few women and only Arab woman in racing history, the 21-year-old California native is striving to break through the male-dominated sporting industry and boasts 19 US Auto Club (USAC) wins, an all-time record for a female driver.

READ MORE: Huda Beauty sponsors NASCAR’s first female Arab driver Toni Breidinger

“There really isn’t that many women, especially. There are different series in NASCAR and as you go up to the higher series there are fewer and fewer women,” Briedinger said.

“But there is a lot of younger girls coming up through the sport which is really exciting. The next few years is going to see a lot more women which is exciting, even as non-drivers as engineers. Just in the pit area I have been seeing a lot more female faces and that is really exciting.”

Briedinger made history competing in a NASCAR regional ARCA Menards Series at the Daytona International Speedway.

Though she finished 18th out of 33 competitors, Breidinger led two other women drivers. There are 10 females but more than 150 men racing in NASCAR’s various series this year.


“Yes, it definitely has been challenging. For me, I don’t see myself as being any different. I always say the car or the track they both don’t see gender, your background or ethnicity. So, to me, all of us … everybody is a race car driver,” Breidinger said.

“I don’t really see myself as any different. But I do feel like it maybe it is going to be a little bit harder to gain respect and just to be taken seriously in some instances. For the most part I just see myself as a driver just like everyone else.”

One challenge, Breidinger noted, is being able to enter the competition and that requires costs.

There are some 29 races she hopes to compete in during the next year, but that competition requires sponsors. 

Her schedule lists five big upcoming races through September, but to get to NASCAR national competition, she would need more.

Last week she announced she was signing a new sponsorship with Huda Beauty, owned by US-Iraqi beauty mogul Huda Kattan.

Her sponsors include brand sponsors Head and Shoulders, Sunny D, Kim Kardashian’s SKIMS, Tory Burch, Sparco, and Bell Helmets.

“Racing is an expensive sport as I am sure many people can imagine. It’s hard to get sponsorship. And I feel like some people might not take you as seriously, especially just like manufacturers,” Breidinger said. 

“Companies that have just been around for a while may not take you seriously and it is just kind of hard to gain their respect and reassure them that you can go out there and win and do your part on that. It’s definitely has been a little bit of a challenge. We’re working towards hopefully racing in a full season. Right now, we just committed to 10 races. We are working hard to get that sponsorship to race in a full season.”

Breidinger is described by the professional racing industry as “the winningest female driver in United States Auto Club (USAC) competition” and her record is impressive.

A recent NASCAR story forecast her trajectory headed towards becoming the first-ever female and Arab-American driver to compete in a NASCAR national-series event when she makes her debut in the Camping World Truck Series with Young’s Motorsports in 2021.


“There is definitely a risk. I have never been scared during a race. I feel you just have to keep your focus,” Briedinger conceded.

“It’s an adrenaline rush for sure. You are less than an inch off the cars around you going 180 miles per hour. You are an inch off the wall. It’s intense. Everybody is trying as hard as they can to win. It’s definitely a very intense atmosphere. But I have never been scared during a race. I am just always so focused.”

Breidinger, whose mother is Lebanese and father - German American, said her interest in racing began innocently when her father took her and her twin sister Annie to race go-carts.

“It all started in go-carts. I just went go-carting as a kid just for fun. I was nine-years-old. My dad took me and my twin sister Annie just up to the go-cart track for the weekend, just like a family activity,” Breidinger said. 

“He wasn’t trying to make anything come from it. But I just fell in love with it and so did my sister. So, we just started racing and traveling all over the country for races. Just from there climbing up the racing ladder.”

The Ray Hanania Show is broadcast live every Wednesday in Detroit on WNZK AM 690 and in Washington DC on WDMV AM 700 on the US Arab Radio Network, and is sponsored by Arab News. The show is streamed live to millions of followers at Facebook.com/ArabNews.

For more information on the radio show and the podcast visit www.ArabNews.com.

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