When Jennifer Calandrillo took a chance on herself, she had no idea how her outlook would turn out.
Originally from the New York City borough of Brooklyn, Calandrillo was a Dale Earnhardt Jr. fan as she started to learn more about NASCAR. She first went to a race at Pocono Raceway in 2004.
During the mid-2000s, when NASCAR was looking at the possibility of opening a racetrack in Staten Island, another New York City borough, Calandrillo hopped on the opportunity to try and help by joining SINCH — Staten Island NASCAR Hopefuls — a committee trying to bring the sport to New York City.
“I got involved with them and we did like benefits and like we had fundraises and all kinds of things just to promote the benefits of having a track in the city,” Calandrillo recalled on Let’s Go Racing.
Despite the track not happening, Calandrillo still wanted to be a part of the sport she had a new-found passion for.
That’s when she took a chance on herself. She dropped her life in New York, including a position as a manager at a bank.
“I packed up and I I moved to North Carolina in 2010; April 2nd, 2010,” Calandrillo added. “I moved down and the search was on. I really didn’t know what I was going to do.”
By this time, she had a good following among fans of the sport, posting photos to social media and taking requests from them when she was at the track. Her fans ultimately decided on the nickname “Infield Jen.”
Infield Jen ultimately landed her first NASCAR public relations job with then owner-driver Brian Keselowski ahead of the 2011 Daytona 500. Then, the next season in ARCA Racing, Keselowski wanted Calandrillo to go over the wall for pit stops, but had no idea what she would be doing.
“Just stand there with the catch can,” Calandrillo recalled Keselowski telling her. “I didn’t really think he was serious but until he told me to really go pick out a fire suit. So I did and I the next that weekend I went over the wall for the first time ever with the with the catch can in Mobile, Alabama.”
Throughout the 2010s, Caladrillo got to work with different NASCAR teams in PR roles as well as occasionally helping with different roles on raceday in the pits.
Fast-forward to Texas in September, after two plus years of training, Calandrillo fueled an Xfinity Series car — the No. 28 of C.J. McLaughlin — becoming the only female fueler in the series.
You can listen to the full interview with Infield Jen on “Let’s Go Racing with David Starr“: