REDEFINING FEARLESSNESS - by Jasmine Salinas
My name is Jasmine Salinas. I’m 29 years old and a 2nd generation racer competing in the Lucas Oil NHRA Drag Racing Series in Top Alcohol Dragster. My dad and younger sister also compete, in the Camping World NHRA Professional Drag Racing Series in Top Fuel Dragster and Pro Stock Motorcycle. I’m the oldest of 4 badass ladies and am fortunate enough to have a very close family. We do pretty much everything together!
March 2021 - Jasmine launching off the starting line at the Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida
When I’m not traveling the country racing, I spend my weekdays working at IDEO, a global design firm in San Francisco. On the outside, my life looks pretty damn awesome traveling every other weekend. And to be honest, I’m incredibly grateful for the platform I’ve been given through racing and the rare opportunity I have to follow my dreams with my family.
What’s not so apparent, however, is that for the past 16+ years, I’ve struggled with Depression, Anxiety, Self-Harm, and even Suicide. The decade worth of scars on my left forearm are usually covered up under my race suit. For most people, it’s hard to comprehend why I would even have anything to be sad about when my life is truly very blessed.
And sometimes I still catch myself wondering why some days feel impossible to get out of bed, even if I’m doing what I love.
Jasmine suits up, with visor lifted.
My struggle with Mental Health has been an accumulation of moments over my life, some traumatic and some minor, yet consistent. As a kid, I was constantly on high-alert, terrified to be seen, and actively disengaged from most of my classmates. As an introvert, I struggled making friends and found myself quickly drained from even the slightest social interactions.
However, I can distinctly trace the start of when my anxiety turned into depression. I was 13 years old when I first began to self harm. This began to destroy my self-confidence and force me to further isolate myself from others. The subject of Mental Health was still very taboo growing up. So for years, I silently kept my struggles to myself and attempted to just get by, one day at a time. Throughout High School and College, I allowed my depression to slowly consume me and kill my light.
In college, I was lucky enough to have access to a professional support network and resources for Mental Health. While I had always talked to others about my struggles, having someone who was professionally equipped to guide me through these conversations and reflections was transformative. I continued to attend therapy even after college. However, I thought that if I kept myself distracted enough, then maybe I wouldn't have to deal with what was really going on inside my head every single day. Eventually, I realized my depression wasn’t just going to suddenly disappear.
What is Fearlessness?
In 2019, I began working at my dream company during the weekdays and traveling every other weekend to compete in Drag Racing. I thought I was living my dream life. At least, that’s what everyone on the outside was telling me. With constant redeyes, meeting fans, working on the road, attempting to maintain a relationship back home, and taking on more than I could handle—I kept myself busy to the point beyond exhaustion.
During all of this, I had also lost a college friend to suicide. At the time, I thought my depression had gone away for good and that I could handle anything. I mean, I was a race car driver after all. Competing in a heavily male-dominated and dangerous sport, I thought I had to be tough. And what I had been taught growing up, toughness meant bottling it up and putting on a face for the world. Even if that face didn’t match how you felt on the inside.
2019 - Jasmine, in the staging lanes, awaiting her next shot at the track.
Then in November, as my race season was coming to a close, I made another suicide attempt. I called in sick to work that day and then flew out that same weekend for my final race, all as if nothing had happened.
It wasn’t until my life had quieted down during the off-season that I realized I wasn’t going to make it much longer trying to maintain this unhealthy avoidance with my mental health. I finally accepted that my depression was something that needed to be managed vs. avoided. As life would have it, 2020 hit and the world shut down due to COVID. Everything I had done to keep myself distracted; everything I had as a form of escape suddenly disappeared, including racing. And for the first time in a while, I was left to sit with myself again and face what I had been avoiding for almost 2 decades.
While I know my Mental Health struggles will always be a part of me, I’ve realized that shifting my perspective of what it means to be strong and fearless has made those challenging days feel a little more bearable and manageable. When people think of race car drivers, they see fearlessness masked with toughness.
Being in a sport that is dominated by strength, stereotypical masculinity, and life-threatening speeds, the idea of self-care can feel more like fragility. But sometimes, being fearless means being strong enough to speak up and give yourself the space for vulnerability and help. It means doing what’s best for you today in order to make sure you’ll still be here tomorrow.
Being a racecar driver had always made me think I was fearless. But finally taking charge of my Mental Health with humility and acceptance is truly the most fearless thing I’ve done so far.
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