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Home / Articles / Columnists / Happy Motoring /  The Woman Warrior Project
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Friday, August 7,2015

The Woman Warrior Project

By Teresa Aquila  

HAPPY MOTORING Teresa is a top-notch mechanic with more than 28 years of experience repairing everything from Porsches to school buses. Currently she teaches a basic auto-repair class for women.

Finding Women passionate about working on cars is becoming easier than it was five or ten years ago. Recently I received a message on Teresa’s Garage Facebook page from a young woman who liked the page. Being inquisitive, I responded back to see if she too was an admirer of vintage iron.

It turns out she was, and in turn referred me to another Facebook page where a group of women were more than admirers, but actually mechanics or working in the automotive industry in some capacity. I find it exhilarating to see other women who are performing incredible things with cars.

This group is undertaking the Warrior Project. Just what is the Warrior Project? First off, their mission statement says it all, “To encourage participation of women in all aspects of the automotive industry”.

So what is this project all about? This entire project started out as a conversation during the 2014 SEMA show about a build, this was the initial idea and it grew from there. This project is one like no other, it will demonstrate the very talents that women have in the automotive industry. According to the Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) women, the number of certified female technicians has more than tripled in the last ten years, but yet makes up only one percent of the total ASE-certified technicians.

Let’s look at how women add up in the automotive corporate world. There are seven women out of 52 officers for Ford Motor Company, their female engineers have more than doubled since 1990. The number of men has only jumped 21% during the same period.

So are women really good for the industry? Absolutely, they think differently, are well-balanced and have core values. Women are relationship builders with a strong sense of community responsibilities. And since women make 80% of the buying decisions, they are able to understand the needs and desires of a woman when it comes to their cars.

This project, known as the Valkyrie Project, has a wide range of talented women in the automotive industry working hard to design, fabricate and build this beautifully powerful 1969 AMX which will debut at the Hot Rod Power Tour.

The exciting part is that a few of these women will soon be a future guest on Teresa’s Garage Radio.

Who makes up this amazing group of women, and what roles do each play in bringing this project to reality?

Susan Carpenter – President, JR Products

A fearless leader, Susan has successfully served the automotive and recreational vehicle-related industries for over 20 years. Leading JR Products into their 15th consecutive record sales year, she credits the company’s industry leading retail packaging design, aggressive marketing and specialized merchandising programs along with award winning customer service as contributing factors to their continued success.

D r . Karen Salvaggio – Owner, Thunder Valley Racing Personal motto: "Dream big; Work hard!!" Karen brings a wealth of motorsports, education, and leadership experience to any project. A military veteran and master mechanic, Karen served nine years in the U.S. Air Force as a crew chief on B-52’s and KC-135 aircraft. Karen garnered numerous distinguished service medals before leaving the military to pursue her advanced education. She holds Bachelors, Masters, and Doctoral degrees.

Nan Gelhard – Advertising Manager, Summit Racing Nan is an advertising and PR pro and knows the performance automotive aftermarket industry. Since she has worked directly with many of the industry’s mover and shakers, from manufacturers to the media, she will be working with manufacturers to get parts for the AMX and the media to bring the project to enthusiasts. Nan also currently serves on the SEMA Businesswomen’s Network Select Committee.

Christina Kwan – Kwan International Marketing & Media Since founding her company in 2007, Christina has dedicated her efforts to primarily representing clients in the capacities of marketing and public relations in the automotive and motorsports industry. From representing an NHRA Nitro Funny car to building her own drag boat from bare block, Christina equally enjoys writing press content as much as she enjoys working on engines and racing.

KEY CONTRIBUTORS JoAnn Bortles – Owner, Crazy Horse Custom Paint Julia Johnson – Instructor of Automotive Technology, Skyline College Amy Fitzgerald – Owner, Cool Hand Customs Warrior Project


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