Dina Parise packs a big personality into a small package, and the diminutive firecracker was recently invited to participate in the 2017 Performance Racing Industry’s hour-long “Opportunities for Women in Motorsports” seminar as a guest speaker along with IndyCar driver Pippa Mann and jet dragster team owner Elaine Larsen of Larsen Motorsports.
Parise, who competes in NMCA Xtreme Pro Mod with her supercharged ’13 Cadillac CTS-V known as “Stella,” has had a diverse career history that’s given her many great opportunities to inspire and encourage other women along the way. From days spent performing as an Ice Capades dancer to her more recent profession behind the wheel of her 3,000+ horsepower race car, the 2015 IHRA Pro Mod World Champion takes her job as mentor and role model quite seriously.
The event, now in its second year, was free of charge to attend and took place at 8:00 am on Friday, December 8, at the Indiana Convention Center, and was moderated by PRI Magazine editor Dan Schechner. “It was an amazing opportunity, and an amazing event,” gushed Parise, who often takes the opportunity to participate in outreach and charitable events. “We had a full house, and we covered everything from the do’s and don’ts of social media marketing to what we all do in racing – a little bit of everything.”
Parise discussed her daily routine with attendees, and spoke candidly about the hard work she puts into scouting, securing, and building her relationships with her marketing partners. Working with her husband, Andrew, the Parise team is a well-oiled machine and handle the vast majority of their racing operation in-house. “I’ve become a social media influencer, and that’s been huge for my team and our marketing partners,” noted Parise.
When it comes to providing guidance to other women who want to become involved in motorsports – whether its as a driver, crew member, or anything – Parise is quick to address the importance of presenting oneself in a professional, respectable manner. “If you’re standing next to a racecar that you own, drive, or work for, in a bikini, well, it might not be the best choice if you’re looking to be taken seriously,” laughed the intelligent, articulate lady from New York. “If you’re on vacation, that’s fine, but you need to consider the context of the image you convey and how your message will be received and perceived.”
The “Opportunities for Women in Motorsports” event also focused on branding opportunities, and the attendees discussed branding techniques and methods both for representing individuals and companies. “We spoke a lot about how you project yourself, and as women, that can be a double-edged sword. We are objectified or looked at differently,” Parise elaborated of the situation that can be viewed either as an asset or a hindrance. “But I don’t want people to say that I’m a ‘female driver,’ I want them to say that I’m a good driver! When they pull up next to me, I want them to say, ‘crap, I’ve got to race her?!’” So, while a female racer can inherently attract more attention simply for the fact that she’s “different,” how she chooses to use that attention and present herself can significantly help or hinder her career.
When a woman markets herself as a driver, Parise believes that actually offers a unique opportunity that can help advance the sport of drag racing as a whole. “We’ve already got so many automotive companies involved, but if a female driver can differentiate herself and bring in other companies, well, then we’re bringing in new fans, and our sport needs that!” she stated excitedly. “Life is not a dress rehearsal. In life, you get one ticket, and I’m using mine until it expires!”