Julie Nataas is sweet, spirited and stunningly beautiful, but don’t let that fool you – she’s become quite mean on the drag strip. She closed out the 2019 season of NHRA’s Mello Yello Drag Racing Series with the NHRA North Central Region championship and a well-earned top 10 position in the national standings after claiming her first four NHRA wins all in one year, including the Top Alcohol Dragster trophy at the NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte.
Ultimately, Nataas would like to follow in her father’s footsteps and race Top Fuel, but the young woman who patiently worked her way up through Jr. Dragsters to Super Comp, Top Dragster and even a stint in a door car knows that it will take time and effort to get there.
“The dream goal has always been and still is to be in a Top Fuel dragster full time. I’m hoping to get my license within maybe the next year or two, then. Maybe we’ll go from there,” Nataas says.
The Norway native – now residing in Santa Barbara, California, after completing a marketing degree at Antioch University – is relatively new to racing on American soil. Nataas was connected with the Randy Meyer Racing team several years ago by friend and fellow European-born drag racer Jonnie Lindberg and began racing with the team full time in 2019. Drag racing has been a large part of her life since she was a kid, though. Her dad, Thomas, raced Top Fuel in Europe throughout her childhood.
“My dad is my go-to person for everything,” she says. “He’s my best friend and my dad at the same time. He took me and my brother to [Pomona,] California for our first race when I was 11, and I remember seeing all the Top Fuel dragster drivers and being like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is so cool; I want to be like them.’”
The 23-year-old’s insatiable appetite for racing, though, wasn’t limited to the drag strip in the early days of her career. Nataas was 9 when she launched into Jr. drag racing after pleading for a long while to be allowed the privilege. Immediately, she felt connected with driving and later would try her hand at go-karting and Formula Basic, racing all three forms of motorsports at the same time until it came down to a decision.
“It came to a point where I had to choose which one to stick with, and I chose drag racing,” she says. “I like the rush and thrill of it. It’s what I’ve always done, it’s always been in the family and it’s what I love.”
This story originally appeared in DI #151, the 30 Under 30 Issue, in December of 2019.