Worked on space shuttle engines
Lead race engineer for Team Penske
First woman race engineer in NASCAR
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
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 realized 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. Joining Team PenskeXFINITY Series in 2008 working her way up to lead engineer of the No. 22 car she helped lead the team to back-to-back championships in 2013 and 2014. Transitioning to Team Penske on the NASCAR circuit in 2020 where she has continued to bring her expertise to the track. 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.”
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 and as of 2017 she stated in a interview with ESPN that she is “still good stopping at the engineering level” and isn’t interested in some of the tasks that are part of the crew chief position.
As one of only a few female race engineers in racing she has said that she doesn’t feel like that has 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.” First and foremost Mueller and other women working in auto racing want to be known for their accomplishments not their gender – they got where they are because they can do their work better than other people and they have put in the work to get where they are.
Written by Mary Ratliff