Technically Speaking: Meet Jamy Padgitt
Words and photo by Jeff Burk
Ed Note: Unlike other motorsports, in drag racing it is not uncommon
to find women holding positions from the highest levels of management
to the driver's seat of World Championship fuel cars. Starting with
this issue, DRO will do a series of features and interviews on women
in drag racing who hold interesting jobs that formerly were considered
to be "for men only."
There are still some male hot-rodders who cling to the idea that
women can't know enough about cars and hot-rodding to give them advice.
Those guys obviously never met or talked to the likes of Shirley Muldowney,
Kim LaHaie, or Jamy Padgitt.
"Jamy Padgitt? Who the heck is Jamy Padgitt?" you ask.
Well, let me be the first to introduce Jamy Padgitt. She is (to my
knowledge) the first woman working as a "phone tech" for a major drag
racing manufacturer, Comp Cams in Memphis. Her job is to provide answers
and advice to the customer who calls, sometimes in a panic, wondering
why the part won't fit, why they have parts left after the installation,
or why it's not working as advertised. Jamy's job is to make the caller
comfortable, calm, and confident in the information he or she is getting.
Judging from the people I've talked to, including her bosses, she
does an excellent job.
Jamy is yet another second-generation racer whose dad took her to
the track as a child and who ended up working in the sport. Her dad,
Chris, was a bracket racer for many years at the old Bethany, Missouri
track. He also is works as a phone tech at Comp Cams.
"I grew up going to the track racing with my Dad," Padgitt explained,
"and as soon as I could I got a race car of my own. I even took shop
classes in high school so that I would know how to work on and maintain
my own car."
She's had a series of 'slammers that she's bracket raced from the
time she was old enough to get a license to present.
"Currently I've got a '79 Camaro that I'm building to drive on the
street and take to the track on weekends.," Padgitt said. "I built
my own 350 small block Chevy using parts I bought from Comp Cams to
put into the Camaro, but I haven't had time to work on it recently."
Jamy has a nine-month-old baby who is taking up a lot of her free
time these days.
In the meantime she continues to be a pioneer of sorts as a female
tech advisor in the drag racing industry. She is most pleased to offer
women racers perhaps the only place they can call and talk to another
female hot rodder about racing.
"When I first started, men who called were a little confused and
nervous about talking to a woman about parts and tech advice," Padgitt
admitted. "Now, I have a client base of racers and engine builders
who call and ask for me. They know I know my job and they like the
job I do for them. They have confidence in my ability. It wasn't that
way to start and there were times when men asked to talk to somebody
else, but I almost never have that problem anymore. Now most times
after a few minutes they know it is just one racer talking to another.
But the most rewarding thing is when another female happens to call
and I get to talk to her. They are amazed that they can talk to another
woman about racing. I'm getting more and more woman who call here
just because they can talk to another woman about racing."
Sounds like the folks at Comp Cams are finding a new customer base,
thanks to Jamy Padgitt.