By Vicky Rae
As our organization continues to grow, we continue to meet women with various different interests and passions. Many of them, theirs paths do not cross, but yet we continue to see similarities among their experiences and interactions.
Women have become more involved in male dominated fields, yes this is true, but we all still tend to face certain prejudices regardless of whether we are into diesels, show cars, motorcycles, or what have you. Some areas of the industry may be worse than others, but sometimes life can take us by surprise to where we almost don't even know how to react. If you are like me you have had your fair share of trash talk, whether people won't look at you while having a technical conversation in a group or have others continuously "explain" things to you that your were perfectly aware. Here Neichaun talks about how to overcome these obstacles and to be confident in your build and your passions.
What are your interests within the automotive industry?
The automotive industry reaches further than just the actual vehicles to me. I work as a Controller, for a company called Capital Automotive Real Estate Services. We are a real estate company, that specializes in sale - leaseback transactions for automotive dealerships. So from the business standpoint, I am interested in how well automotive industry performs, Personally, I enjoy seeing and hearing the mechanics of these fine machines. I like seeing all the different personalizations and modifications enthusiasts can come up with for show purposes, as well as the performance aspect.
So far I have only dabbled in the show arena, but look forward to stepping into increasing the performance hopefully this winter. I also enjoy meeting folks that have their own businesses that support the enthusiasts, from general mechanics to customization shops. They help me learn more about the vehicle, that the owners manual doesn't tell you.
I've been involved mainly in car shows, hopefully some track racing in 2015, and meeting fellow enthusiasts are my for fun interests in the industry. And the enthusiasts also include those that know the ins and out of the car, from mechanics to specialty custom modification shops, the behind the scenes personnel to make my build a reality.
What sparked your passion for building show cars?
For me it a form of expression. When I was little, as long as I could remember, I always wanted a Jeep Wrangler. I remember noticing how they could have different looks depending on the weather and what the driver felt like doing that day. Like it was an extension of them.
I would occasionally pick up magazines, and see how you could make little changes to the exterior looks, and it would really change the whole look of the car.
How did your current show vehicle come to be?
When the Dodge Challenger came out in 2008, it was a dream to own one. Then, I had a 2005 Chrysler 300C which I adored, she was a part of the family. However, having two young kids, daycare expenses did not allow me to modify it as much as I would like. In the summer of 2013, the Chrysler needed major A/C repairs. After a long hot and sweaty June of driving with no A/C, I decided that it was time to part ways with her, and get a challenger.
Still not having sufficient funds to modify the challenger right away, I knew what look I wanted, and spent the first 6 months of ownership, planning out exactly what I wanted. Since I am an accountant by trade, I would research each modification so I knew what was entailed and about how much I would need to make it happen.
Some of my modifications I really lucked out on, finding used parts through either the forums or on craigslist for savings that i could then apply to other modifications further down my list, the never ending list.
In the six months of planning how I wanted the car to look, I would try to combine some of the smaller modifications together, so I could minimize the need to have to take off body panels for example more than once or twice.
I hit ground running in January 2014, getting the two major modifications, the AFR Shaker hood, and Accuair iLevel suspension installed
What are your goals within the industry?
I would like for car enthusiasts to not assume that all the "really nice" modified vehicles belong to men.
But is is a balance I suppose, I don't want any special accommodations because I am a female either
How do you feel as women we can change this?
We can't be shy, or avoid following our dreams and putting the passion into what we love, just because it is currently a male dominated scene. We need to support one another, go to events, ask questions, and learn without feeling restricted.
What would you like to see in relation to women in the industry in the future?
I would like to see more women in prominent roles. I would like to see in magazines and at events, where when women are mentioned it is not because it is about the models taking pictures with the cars, but because they own and have designed the cars which are beautiful.
As I travel more to attend shows, I am hopeful to meet other woman that are also into car shows and look forward to supporting their builds.
What do you feel is the largest obstacle that women face ?
The perception that woman cannot know about cars
Even outside of car shows, I can stop at the store and have strangers make comments, such as, "I see your husband let you drive that today." or "Isn't that too much power for you."
How do you feel that this effects women who encounter these situations?
It's similar to walking down the street and getting "cat calls", sometimes you just don't want to have to deal with it, and makes you think of how you could have avoided that situation all together. But then you remember, I bought the car, its my car and I have built it to my liking, so you proudly speak up and defend what is yours. Hopefully in doing so, the next time they encounter a woman in a nice car, they will think about it before saying that kind of remark again.
But on the flip slide, there are those that are super supportive, and gender has bearing on the car. They love cars as much as you do, and in speaking with them, sharing stories and ideas, makes it worth it.
It is funny when people see the car, and later learn that is owned and had all the modifications planned by a woman. The look of respect is priceless.
What have you learned from being a part of the show car industry?
I have learned to be confident in myself. By pursuing my passion. I have met a lot of great people. I have learned to enjoy what I have and am able to do with this car, and only use the negative or condescending messages as fuel, to proceed down my own path for what I want.
If they can take the time to make a comment, good or bad, that means my work was noticed, and hopefully a positive change has occurred. Either in a helpful way in having their dreams pursued, or in a positive way that they will think twice the next time a similar situation is encountered.
What would be your advice to women looking to get into the industry?
My advice for everyone is to "Build for you". No one else is paying the bill for you, So don't put too much energy to trying to please others.
We all have different tastes. Just be respectful, because to some like myself, the car build, is just a form of expressing themselves.
And plan. plan plan plan. This is too expensive of a hobby to have to do things multiple times because you have changed your mind.
As you may know, being involved in this industry at times may not be easy. But believing in yourself and your passions will enable you to overcome obstacles just like Neichaun. As we continue to grow our passions and careers, understand that you are not alone in your battles and that someone out there is going through the same obstacles as you.