A New Race Girl on the Block | Meet Lea Anne Powell
Talk to Lea Anne Powell for a moment and you’re likely to ask where she gets her Southern drawl from. A race car driver may possibly be one of the last things you’d peg this petite, 5’4”, gal from Georgia as…unless of course you get a glimpse of her unique tattoos.
A professional racing career is exactly what Lea Anne is in pursuit of, and she’s making good headway. You don’t have to look far into Lea Anne’s background to get insight into why she became interested in motorsports. Her mom raced in Powder Puff derbies back in the ‘60s and her father worked as a mechanic – so you could say it’s in her blood. Oddly enough, it was Lea Anne rather than her brother James that took to cars, he’s a musician who calls up Lea Anne when his truck needs a fix.
Shockingly, in school Lea Anne was actually a cheerleader and member of the dance team. She soon danced her way into shop class and it was all downhill from there. She knew she was different. Being a total nerd and feeling like she didn’t fit in with everyone else, the automotive scene seemed to be just her niche.
Her first car was a 2000 Celica which she began modifying as soon as she got it. A custom Buddy Club two kit, two tone black and red paint, and 19” Axis Hagens to name just a few of the modifications. The car was simple and clean – soon the Celica was winning “best of show” at a local car show. She posed alongside her car for a picture in the local newspaper, which gave her an idea...
Lea Anne realized she could model as a means to get into the racing scene. Starting off as a spokesmodel for the company she was already working for, Z1 Motorsports – she went on to leverage her positions with various aftermarket companies to help her get into racing. “I’ve worked with Dunlop tires, Exedy Racing Clutches, Rockstar Energy Drink, and Pirelli tires to name a few,” says Lea Anne. Most people probably knew her as the nice girl from Georgia that wanted to drive race cars.
A couple of years ago Lea Anne’s racing pursuits relocated her to Southern California where she’s been able to shift her career from modeling to driving. “I envisioned California as the opportune location with the various tracks and major aftermarket companies,” said Lea Anne.
It was during this transition approximately a year ago when I met Lea Anne at a Redline Time Attack event at Willow Springs International Raceway. A colleague of mine introduced me to her and we did a quick photo shoot of her on site with the Toyota of Escondido/Crawford Special Edition and Crawford BRZ.
It was on that day that she found her entry into being sponsored by Toyota of Escondido. She co-drove the Crawford BRZ with Quirt Crawford just for fun that day and was introduced to Scott Whitehead the 2nd owner of Toyota of Escondido. That day she helped Scott shave about 4 seconds from his own lap times.
At the end of the event, she expected to wait for a trophy for Scott or Quirt, but instead she ended up taking 3rd place at WSIR with a 1:44 time. That was the moment her hard work paid off – a week later Scott asked her to race for Toyota of Escondido. She gladly accepted.
She’s only gotten faster this past year, “I’ve taken second place in the 86 cup series at WSIR and placing third place at Buttonwillow, says Lea Anne. Her end goal? “Drive in the Pirelli World Challenge series, I just need to find the proper backing and an amazing team, then I’ll be set.” Why the Pirelli World Challenge series? “I love wheel to wheel racing.”
For every race car driver, there’s a car and a team that supports them. The Toyota of Escondido/Crawford Special Edition is exactly that, it’s special. Lea Anne drives the car having a 002 serial number, just the second that Crawford Performance has built for Toyota of Escondido. This special edition was initially dreamed up by Quirt and Scott of Toyota of Escondido with the idea of selling the Crawford editions with full factory warranties as well as rolling the modification costs into the car’s financing.
As the proof of concept proved to be solid, they put the plan into action – and Lea Anne can drive the FR-S straight to the track. The package includes Crawford Performance Air/Oil Separator, axel-back exhaust, ECU tuning, graphics, individual badging, KW lowering springs and sway bars, K&N Air Filter, and Enkei Wheels.
Once in a while you just might see Lea Anne zipping by on her way to Buttonwillow, Willow Springs, Chuckwalla or Auto Club Speedway. As we progress halfway into the racing season, we’ll have to see how hard Lea Anne can push the FRS. In the meantime, make sure you stop by and say hello at a future event. We look forward to capturing her on the track.