Picture this: It’s the costume portion of the upcoming Mrs. Universe pageant in South Africa, and out walks a woman wearing something resembling a half-firesuit and carrying a race helmet painted with the American flag.
Everyone in attendance, including women from 83 other countries, will know exactly which nation Mrs. USA Ashley Stremme is representing as she competes for an even bigger crown.
Stremme, the wife of David Stremme, will carry one of her husband’s old Cup Series helmets with “USA” painted across the visor, ensuring there will be a racing connection to her part of the competition.
“The racing community has been a huge support factor in what I’ve done this past year, and that means more to me than they will ever know,” said Stremme, the daughter of former sprint car driver Joe Deihl. “It’s the sport that I love and grew up in since a little girl. So having that support is amazing.”
Stremme was previously named Mrs. United States (a different competition from Mrs. USA), so she has plenty of pageant experience. But one big change will be that for Mrs. Universe, all contestants are promoting the same cause — an anti-violence message toward women and children — while in this country, each woman picks her own platform.
As part of that, Stremme will participate in a “One Voice” march on Aug. 30 to promote the cause and is hoping the racing community will follow along with the hashtags #MrsUniverse2017 and #OneVoice.
She also prepared a video on domestic violence that presented as part of the pageant, along with the more standard elements like an evening gown competition.
Stremme won’t travel with any friends or family because she just wants to focus on doing her absolute best over the 10-day period (“I like to have my own space and not have to worry about David being lost somewhere in Africa,” she said).
She’s ready to compete and “bring back a little hardware,” she said, as well as answer questions from other contestants about the current state of U.S. politics.
“It’s extremely overwhelming,” she said of being selected to represent the country. “I’m proud to be from the United States and represent the United States. I’m going there to make a difference and try to impact people we come in contact with and better our world. I hope to do my country proud.”