Andrea Mueller grew up in a racing family in Fresno, California, living her childhood on a racetrack. She started racing herself at a young age, but as she got older she started to realize that a career behind the wheel probably wasn’t in her future. Instead she became interested in engineering after watching an interview with a racing engineer.
Mueller graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a degree in mechanical engineering. After college she worked for Boeing, building engines for the space shuttle and helping design the main engine nozzle. But motorsports still held a place in her heart, and she kept an eye out for a job on a racing team. She was able to join Team Penske in 2007, and now she is the lead race engineer for the number 22 car. Members of Team Penske say that her aerospace background helps bring in a new perspective. Number 22 has won 20 races and two owner’s championships in the Xfinity Series since she became lead engineer. Team owner Roger Penske values her contributions, saying “She’s as strong as anyone we have. She’s made good calls. She understands the cars.”
Mueller is the only female race engineer in NASCAR, but she has said that she doesn’t feel like it’s been an issue for her. She told USA Today, “I think it’s a result of growing up at the racetrack. No one treated me any different because I was a girl, so I never really thought about it.”
Many are looking to Mueller for her potential to become the first female crew chief in NASCAR, though she says she’s still deciding if that’s the right path for her. She’s currently focused on becoming a race engineer for the Sprint Cup series. Last summer, she told a NASCAR reporter, “the one thing I hope comes out of all this is that young women see there’s no reason they can’t do whatever they want.”
Suggested by: Courtney Wright
Written by Mary Ratliff