Christmas Abbott, Almost an Iraqi Vet

I am neither a fan, nor the opposite, of NASCAR. One day, I imagine, I will enjoy it, but not yet. Still, I like the tech and the teamwork. And Christmas Abbott, a newbie on the NASCAR pit crew in the Camping World Truck Series, (for driver Jennifer Jo Cobb) has a military-support background:

For nearly three years, Abbott spent her days at a military laundry center in a war zone, sorting fatigues stained with blood, sweat and a lot of desert sand. Life became grueling and more than a little bit dangerous. “I remember when we were on a bus and there was an IED [improvised explosive device] in the road,” she says. “I said, ‘What’s an IED and why can’t we drive around it?’ “

Christmas Abbott, NASCAR pit crew in the Camping World Truck Series, where she'll change tires for driver Jennifer Jo Cobb. Clint Bowyer, Daytona 500, Michael Waltrip Racing crew
Christmas Abbott, NASCAR pit crew, Camping World Truck Series, for driver Jennifer Jo Cobb

Christmas found a new respect for discipline because she had no other choice: She worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week. She was surrounded by men, wore “very concealing clothing and not a lot of makeup.” She often slept in the laundry office. Then a soldier mentioned a workout he was doing that he thought she might be into. Christmas hadn’t really been an athlete since her baseball days, but she went to take a look. And her life changed.

Skeptics in Iraq referred to it as “CircusFit” or “MonkeyFit” because it featured shirtless men swinging from bars and throwing around barbells, but CrossFit was on the verge of becoming a worldwide phenomenon. Back then, P90X was considered arduous (and let’s face it, it is arduous), but CrossFit was on another level.

I did CrossFit for two years, it is a heck of a workout. . .

Krav Maga and CrossFit Memories


These things I remember:

Having to wrestle with a guy who smelled of curry the day we were working ground escapes. Nice guy: way, way too much Pakistani food.

Being surprised at how hard this one tall lady punched. Being proud of her too. (Not in a condescending way, but in an atta way to go, grrrl kinda vibe.) Striking in Krav starts in the hips and the proper snap adds a lot of umph. She’d ’em snaps.

No being surprised that tattoos and big muscles do not always translate into power.

Not being surprised again that tattoos and biker goattees do not translate into fearlessness. Quite the opposite with one or two folks I used to work with.

Having to watch the little guys warily. It is the wiry dudes, who have been forced to scrap all of their lives, that tended to surprise me. With their treachery and cunning. The Offensive Line types, I could always see them coming. From a mile off. Or at the very least, a kilometer.

Listening with annoyance as an Army SFC made dumb comments while we did lunges with medicine balls in our CrossFit class. I had a ball that looked smaller than his. Still I passed him and he made a point when he finished to point out that I had a lighter ball. Um, not really, I replied. And I showed him my heavier, but smaller ball. He was silent. CrossFit brings out competitors.

Reacting with anger when a girl stepped back from a kick-shield I was striking and I punched out (over-extended) my elbow. I still feel it five years later. My fault, really.

Observing that a post on Krav Maga would not be complete without the Krav Maga Ensigns! Oooof-daaa. . .