As a female in the industry myself, I was instantly drawn to Poletti’s mission- to find others like her who’s passion for the cars they drive far exceeds the normal boundaries of enthusiasm.
We are, in fact, talking about love and the only way to describe it is to experience it for yourself. So I got a hold of Poletti to find out more about this life passion of hers.
“I had always dreamed of doing something important with my life, something to give it purpose, a purpose to be proud of,” Poletti told me in an email conversation.
“As a young adult, what we’ve been taught our whole lives to do after college is get the ‘salary job’ and to be honest that was originally my plan, until something happened. I lost a very good friend of mine to brain cancer. She was only 21, the same age as me at that time. Events like this in a person’s life are the kind that define you and become a part of who you are. I realized I didn’t want to live for a “9am-5pm job” and I didn’t have to. I had my epiphany; Why not live while I’m still living? So from then on I’ve committed myself to Beauty’s Got Muscle and as I’ve traveled meeting these wonderful people in the car world, I am continuously inspired and motivated to keep going for all of them, for my friend who passed, and for myself. I am forever grateful because in a way, I believe my friend saved my life.”
Beauty’s Got Muscle finds its home on the Internet, between a website with an integrated blog and a Facebook page. In 2012, that could pretty much describe any business, organization or individual on the Internet, but for Poletti, her mission is not merely to provide web content. It’s much bigger than that.
“When I first started this journey my original focus was solely on spreading the word about women with muscle cars, but the more I learned and experienced, the more this journey has evolved,” said Poletti. “It’s not just about the women anymore, it’s also about the cars, their heritage and how they’re a part of who we are. It’s a piece of America’s soul that I’d hate to see fade away. I hope to bring more people into this world to keep it going strong. If nothing else, my one hope would be to open as many minds to the simple idea that anyone, regardless of who or what they are, can do anything. Where ever this journey takes me is its gift to me, I’m just lucky enough to be along for the ride.”
And along for the ride Poletti has been. After kicking off in the fall of 2010, the Beauty’s Got Muscle journey took Poletti for a road trip along most of the East Coast, then to Watkins Glen International where she got to ride shotgun with international racecar driver Amanda Hennessey.
Poletii’s journey also took her to the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Corvette Euro Meet and allowed her to follow a team on Brock Yates’ One Lap of America 2012.
“The first real road trip I took with Ned was the most interesting, crazy and brave thing we’ve done so far,” Poletti told me. “We hit 15 states going as far west as Little Rock, Arkansas, as far south as New Orleans, Louisiana and back up north to New York, covering over 3500 miles, in just a little over a week. We drove through a snowstorm, out ran a tornado, and had to lose some unfriendly characters on the road that began following us by doing ‘fake outs’ at rest stops and quickly leaving.”
Just in that trip alone, Poletti toured the Antique Auto Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, visited owner of Phoenix Specialty Coatings Leanna Johnson, stopped by the Bonnie and Clyde Museum in Louisiana, met up with FemaleRacingNews.com creator Amanda Martin and even stopped by the Charlotte Auto Fair Spring Meet.
We think it’s safe to say that Poletti is enjoying her journey and getting nothing but the most out of it. After all, that’s what car love is all about, right?
Poletti’s journey wouldn’t be the same without her beloved red-head sidekick, Nathaniel “Ned” Nova. The 1978 Chevrolet, which came with a factory 4.1L Inline 6 engine, may not be the pick of the litter for most automotive enthusiasts, but for Poletti, Ned is everything she could’ve asked for. However, it didn’t start out that way.
Poletti grew up playing with Hot Wheels and Barbies, and had some experience with liking cars growing up. Her dad had a ‘72 rag top Chevelle SS from before the time she was born, but cars never really consumed her like they do now.
“I think over the course of my life so far, my car blood has grown richer,” Poletti told me. “I enjoyed looking at cars and the idea behind the muscle car, but I don’t think I truly understood it until recently, although that’s life. Just when you think you understand something, new doors open and you’re at a new beginning again which to be honest, I love. If there ever came a day I knew everything about the car world, it would be a sad one.”
Coming into driving age, Poletti’s automotive influences as a kid played into her ideal choice for a car.
She had fallen in love with the bowtie and knew that a Chevy would be in her near future, with third-generation Novas catching her eye most.
“At that time I was ‘young and car shallow,’ only judging cars by their looks,” said Poletti. “Thankfully most third-gens were either rust buckets, or out of my price range.”
But with some help from her dad, Poletti came across the car that would turn into a life-changer.
“The first time I saw a picture of him [Ned Nova] my thoughts were that he had nasty hubcaps that looked like crock-pots stuck to his wheels and a rubber stripe down his sides like the rub rail on a boat,” Poletti told me. “Little did I know then that this car that I thought was a ‘grandpa’s car’ would be the love of my life.”
Having a dad with the knowledge that the ‘78 was a good find for a first car, Poletti and her father went to check it out. As you know by now, the Nova came home with the family after that. The name Ned was decided upon by the mere look and presence of the car.“The origin of Ned’s name is simple,” said Poletti. “I looked at him and thought, ‘He looks like a Ned.’ And so it was. However since Beauty’s Got Muscle started, two acronyms have come to mind that lead me to believe nothing is coincidence: Never Ever Dies and Never Ending Drive.”
Although Ned was born with a straight-six, that only lasted so long before the revamp on the classic Chevy started. Poletti cruised Ned around in all his six-cylinder glory for awhile, but was then put in contact with Steve McCrory and Peter Colasanto of SP Classics LTD by the mother and mother’s boyfriend of her friend that passed.
McCrory and Colasanto were originally contacted with a proposition- Poletti wanted to learn how to work on cars. Area classes weren’t an option because Poletti already knew the basics but SP Classics offered her more than she could imagine.
“They told me the best way to learn how to work on cars is to start with your own,” Poletti said. That’s how Ned got his big break and started down the road to bigger and badder things.
With donated parts and the help of her new friends, Poletti put all the grunt work in to muscle up Ned a bit. Now the Nova sports a Chevy 350 4-bolt main engine with a COMP Cams camshaft, Holley 650cfm carburetor, Edelbrock intake manifold, Mallory distributor and MSD wires. Ned was also equipped with a M-20 4-speed transmission with Bourg Warner clutch and Hurst Competition Plus shifter, as well as a custom 2 ½-inch exhaust system with Hedman headers.
“From head to toe, everything was checked on Ned and anything that looked like it needed replacing got replaced,” said Poletti. “Work was done on suspension, brakes, interior and paint.”In under a month, Ned’s overhaul was finished, from a whole new engine to freshly dyed seats. And while Ned has certainly cleaned up a bit, he’s not something that Poletti doesn’t recognize, she told me. That’s good since no queen is whole without her trusty steed and visa versa.
Poletti’s journey has taken her places she never thought possible. One of the biggest surprises was the massive family she’s come to know.
“I started this journey with just Ned and me, but along the way I’ve found a whole new family,” Poletti told me. “The amount of heart and soul in the car world is so much more than anything I ever expected. I’ve met so many people who believe in what we’re doing and the support we’ve received from all of them is just something I can’t find words to describe what it means to me.”
Poletti has also found an acceptance and respect that might surprise some people in an industry built originally with a “good ‘ole boy” mentality. Some of her biggest supporters are are older male enthusiasts that find it quite neat to see a young woman into cars, sometimes even telling her they wish there were 10 more like her. Fortunately, there are a growing number like her.
“There will always be someone somewhere against us, but I think our future holds much more than we’ll be able to give it credit for,” said Poletti. “Big things are changing around us right now, and women’s presence in the car world is one of them.”
So where does Poletti’s journey with Beauty’s Got Muscle go from here?
Well, wherever it takes her. Poletti tells us that she wants to continue to learn mainly and continue to meet people in this world full of car love.
The journey may be rough at times, after all, Poletti is holding down a few jobs to support her journey at the moment, but it’s all well worth it for the life she has a chance to live through her project.
“While driving in Ned one day, I noticed an SUV in my rear view mirror speeding up,” Poletti said. “When it came up along side of me, the woman driver was all smiles. She was saying something to the passenger and pointing vigorously at me and Ned. When I looked over at them, there in the passenger seat was a little girl bouncing and screaming with excitement… I cried from being so happy. Its small moments like this that make every hardship I face along the way well worth it.”