There's more to this than racing

Courtesy NASCAR Productions

Before the Richmond race, Johanna Long spent some time at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU.

We are getting down to the nitty-gritty in the NASCAR season, with only a handful of races left. It’s definitely a fun time as we focus on finishing out the season strong.

As the only female in the NASCAR Nationwide Series season, it’s easy to get caught up in the race track lifestyle -- going from race track to race track without spending a lot of time on yourself.

NASCAR Productions

Looking professional and participating in photo shoots goes along with representing the team and sponsors.

A few weeks ago, I had a full-day photo shoot, where I got to let my personality shine -- out of the driver suit. After a long day of prep and shopping, we started the day with hair and makeup at T. Reid and Co. in Charlotte. I compete against and work with all males, so it’s nice to be pampered every now and then.

After getting ready we made a few different stops around the Charlotte area -- at bakeries, antiques stores and restaurants. It was funny to see how many people just stop and stare at a group of photographers, makeup artists and “models.” We even went to my CrossFit gym, which was a little nerve-racking, to do my workout in front of a bunch of people.

The part I looked forward to the most was the lake. We did lots of “action” shots, but it was more relaxing for me than anything. Although I had a ton of fun throughout the day, I was exhausted by the time it was over. It’s hard smiling that long!

After the shoot it was time to focus on my next race, at Richmond International Raceway. We had some downtime before the race, so I had the opportunity to visit the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU.

This was one of those experiences that everyone should get to have. All of the kids and their families were truly amazing, and the staff treated me like part of the family. I have always loved working with and being around children, so this visit was right up my alley, and I was fortunate enough to make a lot of new friends -- and even make some new NASCAR fans.

There is definitely a lot more that goes into the racing world than just getting behind the wheel. Looking professional and participating in photo shoots comes along with representing your team and sponsors. Although racing fuels my desire to compete, it’s so important to give back to the community, and I know as I continue in my career, it’s something I will carry close to my heart.

We are preparing for the end of the season, and I’m thrilled to finish this season strong. Thanks for reading, and hope to see you at a race!