COVER GIRL

Columbus alumni Chantal McCrorie carving out a unique niche at the Harley-Davidson company
By: 
Marlo Pronovost
Thursday, January 17, 2019
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Photo by Tyler Schmeling
          
            Chantal McCrorie in the service department at Red Rock Harley-Davidson in Las Vegas, Nev.

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Photo by Tyler Schmeling
          
            Chantal McCrorie sits on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle during a photo shoot for the company’s in-house magzzine.

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Chantal McCrorie is more than just a beautiful face.

While the Columbus High School graduate has been a model and actress for several years, her cover shot on last month’s issue of Harley Davidson’s in-house magazine had more to do with her brain than her beauty.

McCrorie, 31, is one of the relatively few female service advisors within the entire Harley Davidson motorcycle company — having been recognized as one of the top service advisors in the country in Powersports magazine and earning more than 100 perfect reviews at Red Rock Harley Davidson in Las Vegas, Nev.

STILLWATER ROOTS

McCrorie is the third child of Columbus residents Iven and Betty McCrorie, the little sister to brothers Tim and David McCrorie. The McCrories are a family of mechanics, and Chantal was no exception.

“I always enjoyed and wanted to help, yet I was never allowed to be involved as much as I wanted to be,” McCrorie recently said from her home in Las Vegas, Nev. “I always enjoyed the sound and freedom around cars and motorcycles.”

The movie “Fast and Furious” was perhaps the deciding factor in her young life

pointed her to want to pursue a career in fashion and motors at the same time.

“Why can’t I model and run my own shop?” McCrorie recalled thinking.

She went to a modeling seminar in middle school and started to build her portfolio in high school. At the same time, she started to tinker with cars when she got her driver’s license at age 15.

“I was in shop class and FFA in high school. On the weekends, I would drive to Billings and hang out with the car crowd. We’d either work on cars, attend car shows or go to the races,” said McCrorie. “I worked at IGA in Columbus bagging groceries and eventually worked my way to being a cashier to pay for those weekends.”

A MARRIAGE OF MOTORS AND

MODELING

After graduating from Columbus High School in 2006, McCrorie headed to Avondale,

Ariz., to attend the Universal Technical Institute for Automotive Mechanics. She was one of 20 women in a school of 5,000 students.

“I was terrified at first, but found out that we are all equal and I knew just as much, if not more,” said McCrorie.

While in school, she signed with the Via Entertainment agency for modeling and acting, which brought her work as an extra in the Universal Studios movie “Kids in America” that starred Toper Grace.

“So I would go to school during the day and film during the night. I enjoyed every minute. But it was a 1980s based movie, so they permed my hair and dressed me in panty hose,” said McCrorie.

Other jobs led to attending awards shows at Paramount and walking the Fox studios set, as well as working with what she describes as amazing photographers.

McCrorie also got involved with performing tandem stunts on motorcycles in Arizona with the LBZ stunt team.

There was a stint at Evolution Motor-sports in the Audi/Volkswagen department, where she was a performance specialist. That meant helping a client customize or upgrade the vehicle’s performance.

In 2007, McCrorie returned home, which led her to performance tandem stunts with 1 Wheel Revolution in Billings, which was a traveling stunt show for dealerships, race tracks and businesses.

“I was with this team for approximately 2 ½ years, until I almost broke my spine during practice when a stunt had gone wrong,” said McCrorie.

She then became a personal trainer in Billings and focused on being as fit as she could for her work in the modeling industry.

LOS ANGELES

In 2009, McCrorie moved to Los Angeles and worked as a personal assistant for a celebrity optician, modeling in her free time.

“Being a small-town country girl and still very young, Los Angeles had been just a little too much for me at the time,” said McCrorie, although she recalls treasured memories of conversations about life and motorcycles with the likes of Danny Trejo, Fabio, Nicolas Cage and Janice Dickerson.

On the way back to Montana, she stopped in Las Vegas.

“I told myself that I needed to suck it up and make it,” said McCrorie. “I dropped my bags in Vegas without really knowing anyone. I started out waitressing and modeling until I could get on my feet. From there, things started to take off.”

Back in the fashion world, McCrorie found herself presenting trophies at the Latin Grammys and giving a speech in front of Richard Petty.

BREAKING MOLDS AT HARLEYDAVIDSON

After spending a few years in Las Vegas learning to prep paint on baggers and choppers for Alley Rat Customs and working on customizing cars, McCrorie was looking for something different. Her friend, Steve Darnell from the Discovery Channel’s Vegas Rat Rods, persuaded McCrorie to apply at Red Rock Harley-Davidson.

After three interviews, she was hired as a service advisor. That was six years ago.

“A service advisor is like a nurse to the doctor. I write up the service ticket and manage the job through the shop,” said McCrorie. “I can build estimates for motor builds or service.”

In November 2018, she received a call from the Harley-Davidson Corporate office requesting an interview. A few days later, she was doing the photo shoot. And as the publication went to print, she learned it would be the very last printed version the corporation would be doing and that the focus was on women being recognized in the industry.

Under a photo of McCrorie at her job, Red Rock Harley-Davidson General Manager Mike Plehn is quoted in the publication as saying the following:

“Although women are sometimes perceived as not knowing a lot about mechanics, that can be a complete myth…It’s good to have diversity. You need a variety of people to reflect your customer base. The rising numbers of woman in service is a natural because riding is more popular than ever before with women.”

McCrorie is the company’s face on that new in-house marketing push. The publication went out to all 635 dealerships in the country and to all staff.

THE BRUSH OF A BULLET THROUGH HER HAIR

McCrorie was one of the hundreds of people caught in the tragedy of the Oct. 1, 2017, Las Vegas concert shooting on the Strip that claimed 58 lives and injured

851.

Attending the Zac Brown concert with backstage passes had been a last minute decision. She was sitting in the VIP lounge with her friend Paul when the madness began to unfold.

“Then the popping started and I felt something breeze through my hair,” McCrorie recalled.

“We had no clue whatwas happening and a security guard came around from up front and said, ‘This is not a drill. Get down, get out of here.’ ”

McCrorie and her friend were directed to run and hide behind a tour bus.

“I held hands with a girl next to me and a gentleman to my right, as Paul stood over me,” said McCrorie.

Inside the bus, she braced for the worst.

“I positioned myself between the bathroom and the fridge to allow more packing if bullets were to come through,” said McCrorie.

She also called her mom and told her what was transpiring. When she finally made it home, the first thing she did was shower.

“It must have been the longest shower I’ve ever taken. I couldn’t believe what happened and at the same time, trying to wash off the feeling, which was sticking to me,” said McCrorie.

The aftermath brought survivor’s guilt, sadness, depression and fear. She developed uncontrollable tremors and acne from the stress. She and other survivors were attacked online as well through cyber bullying.

“I had one person online who said ‘You are so dumb. You should be hit over the head with a shovel’,” she said. “It was absolutely horrific after what we had just been through.”

Therapy turned that around for her and once again, McCrorie feels as if she is moving forward. Also playing a big role in her recovery have been her family and her boyfriend, Travis Deeter, who is also on the Discovery Channel’s Vegas Rat Rods.

“I’m so thankful to have my life back,” she said.

“Then the popping started and I felt something breeze through my hair.”
-Chantal McCrorie on the bullet that passed through her hair during the 2017 Las Vegas shooting.

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