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NASCAR's First African-American Female Driver Speaks in Teaneck

Tia Norfleet encourages Teaneck High School students to follow their passions and do what they love.

Tia Norfleet, the first and only African-American female licensed NASCAR driver, was the keynote speaker at Teaneck High School’s Honor Roll Assembly, Thursday.

Norfleet addressed approximately 500 Honor Roll students in an assembly to celebrate their academic achievements. Norfleet, the 25-year old daughter of racing veteran Bobby Norfleet, made her NASCAR racing debut in August.

Norfleet's career in racing began with go-karts and progressed to drag racing until she finally proved herself by obtaining her NASCAR license, breaking ground by being the first African-American woman to do so.

Norfleet explained to the students that NASCAR requires a special license that must be signed off by professionals attesting to your abilities.

"Even if you do well, they can still say 'no,'" Norfleet said.

Despite her commitment to the sport, Norfleet is determined to break even more ground. She is a self-described businesswoman, as well as a philanthropist. Her foundation, “Driven 2 Read,” focuses on child literacy. When she’s not preparing to race, she speaks to young people about overcoming the odds.

In addressing the honor students at Teaneck High, Norfleet emphasized the importance of obtaining an education and encouraged them to follow their passions and do what they love.

"Don't listen to people who discourage you," she said. "Don't surround yourself with negative people."

"One of the most important considerations in life," Norfleet stressed, "is to "always know that you're a role model to somebody--whether you realize it or not."

To the surprise of the students, Norfleet said that she has turned down sponsorships where they had offered her "a lot of money."

"Liquor sponsorships, cigarette sponsorships...I turned them down because that's not the image I want to project," she said.

Norfleet credits her dad with giving her great advice. "My dad always told me that all money isn't good money."

Responding to one of the student's questions about being professionally paid to pursue her sport, Norfleet said, "Always know the business side of what you do," she said.

Norfleet encouraged the students to go to college and take business courses. "Once you understand the business side of what you do, no one can ever take advantage of you."

When asked who her role models were, Norfleet said her parents.

"My mother taught me how to be a strong and independent woman, and my father taught me how to drive and be a business person."

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Bob Willlman February 28, 2013 at 03:37 PM
I love what they've done with our auditorium.,
Charelle Wilson Hanley March 05, 2013 at 07:43 PM
Interesting that I don’t see the regular cynical cast of reader-writers making comments about this educational in-school event versus the off-color comments made after the recent “Harlem Shake” video. I was pleased to see 500 of Teaneck High School’s finest students came out to see and hear Tia Norfleet speak about her career as a NASCAR driver. As a THS alumna I am proud to see so many African-American young men and women along with their white counterparts hear the message of success that Ms. Norfleet gave. It is important for ALL of our young people to see that, if they prepare themselves properly, they can do anything. Events like the recent Men’s assembly at B.F. ustillizes the people in the community that are successful as mentors, and is a wise use of our local resources. It enables students to be positively influenced by home-grown professionals and emulate their road to success. Thanks also to Teaneck’s teachers, teaching assistants, and educational administrators for maintaining high standards of achievement for our students who prove that they are capable of attaining them.

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