Remembering Dusty Brandel

To say that she was “one of kind” is really not very accurate, Dusty Brandel inspired and championed a whole generation of female motorsports reporters who have honored her with their work.

She was as gracious as she was fearless, always moving forward, building up the craft, encouraging, inspiring, and (yeah, at times) commiserating with us as well.

Dusty was more than a leader, she was a friend who always made sense, who always had that attitude that was both brave and comforting at the same time.

She leaves an indelible mark on the careers of auto racing writers, broadcasters, and photographers everywhere. Whether they were members of AARWBA or not, they all benefited from her advocacy.

She was tireless in her work, and we all are the better for it…   -Doug Stokes

Norma”Dusty” Brandel was born September 29, 1934 to Leila and Charles Brandel. She was a lifelong resident and dedicated member of the Burbank community.

Norma embarked on her remarkable career in motorsports journalism in 1955 as a writer for the Hollywood Citizen news,  covering car races all over

Southern California.  When she was  encouraged to use a “gender-neutral” name to avoid the roadblocks that existed for female journalists at the time, the name “Dusty” was born.

She was the president of the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association and enjoyed her many trips to the Indianapolis 500 hosting the

annual AARWBA events. She also served as president of the Los Angeles Press Club and was a board member of the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame.

In 1972 she was the first woman to receive a press credential to report from inside a professional NASCAR garage area.

And she was inducted to  the NASCAR Hall of Fame as a recipient of the Squier-Hall Award for media excellence in 2018.

In recent years she worked as the history factotum for the Burbank Association of Realtors.

Dusty passed away at home on February 27,  2022.  Her professional and personal journey has influenced and inspired many.

She is blessed to be survived by many valued friends, colleagues, cousins, companion Michael Bishop, her niece Christie and two grand-nephews.