One of the most compelling aspects of motorsports is its breadth and Verena Mei has found a unique niche that allows her to use her variety of experience to add value to brands that need exposure.
Model, actress, spokesperson, stunt car driver, rally and drift racer, Mei is a brand ambassador who also knows how to navigate a track.
“I was modeling for automotive companies and they would send me to races, week after week,” Mei told NBC Sports. “This was going on for three years and during that time I learned a lot about motorsports and cars.
“I had no initial experience in the motorsports industry. So I asked a million questions, because I had originally majored in mechanical engineering, so I had that mechanical curiosity about how things work and what are you doing.
“I have to know what you’re doing.”
Curiosity for curiosity’s sake will only last for so long. So Mei had to find a way to apply that knowledge.
“After three years, I had the knowledge and the passion for motorsports,” Mei said. “So one day I woke up and said, I’m going to race. Racing is what I want to do.’
Mei was not sure how to break into the industry, but knew that at its core, racing is about control and what to do when cars get sideways. Without access to a dirt car or paved late models where many burgeoning drivers start their odyssey, Mei hit upon the next best thing.
She went to stunt driving school.
And that is where the passion grew. It was her first experience with performance driving.
From there, she transitioned to Formula Drift and Rally America. Both disciplines taught her how to race by the seat of her pants. Training for rally racing with Tim O’Neil in the Team O’Neil Rally School in New Hampshire wetted her appetite for real world competition. She quickly became successful. She was part of the TrueCar Racing Women Empowered Initiative.
In Mei’s first year with the Rally America series, she completed all of the races and was part of the first all-female team to win one of their championships in the B-Spec division. She placed fourth overall in the two wheel drive National Championship.
Her film credits include acting and stunt driving for Hawaii 5-0, Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Rush Hour 2 and work with Sky Witness Network. She hosted a car-review show “Sexy Road Test” for Comcast & Time Warner Digital Cable – generally doing what was needed to fuel her need for speed.
With the COVID-19 pandemic slowing down opportunities in real-world series, Mei made the transition to Sim Racing in a big way. She found rigs and equipment that translated the feel of an actual car to her virtual race setup.
These days, you can find her hosting or driving in races on Twitch.tv. Among her other credits, Mei is a game streaming host for Xbox Studios and Forza Motorsports.
“I’ve always wanted to race all over the world and I’ve not been able to do that in real life, so with Sim Racing I get to experience what it’s like to race at different tracks – the most famous tracks all over the world, which I probably will never get a chance to do,” Mei said. “Getting behind the wheel of my sim, I have the ability to find those braking points to translate my real life skills to the virtual track.”
And don’t be surprised if that experience allows her to move back and forth from virtual reality to the real world.
In a Post-COVID-19 world, Mei would like to get back into drift car racing.