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March 15, 2010

Shea Holbrook lets out all the stops

Shea2 Shea Holbrook likes to go fast.

The 19-year-old phenom from Groveland, Fla., will hit the road at the World Challenge season opener, March 26-28, marking her professional debut in road racing. When Holbrook makes her start, she will become one of the youngest female drivers in World Challenge history.

Holbrook got a taste for racing after a turn at the Richard Petty Driving Experience. Despite having numerous state, regional and national titles water skiing -- she hung up her professional skis and got behind the wheel. In 2008, Holbrook ran the Sports Car Club of America (SCAA) ITS Class, she has also participated in Formula and Automobile Racing Association (FARA) MP Classes and in National Auto Sports Association (NASA).

When she's not on the track, Holbrook is a college student majoring in broadcast communications. She also works to raise awareness for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy through Parent Project. Currently, she is hoping to raise $10,000.00 by March 28 for the charity.

Holbrook is currently a college student studying Broadcasting and wants to make motorsports a career.

How did you first get into racing?
My first experience in a race car was a ride along at Daytona with the Richard Petty Experience. That same weekend my father was going for his Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) license. I remember approaching my dad at one point before a session on the track saying: “So, what exactly are you doing getting your race license when we don’t have a race car?”

He said, “Well, I don’t know what, do you think about it?” He knew exactly what I would say. “I WANT TO DO IT!”

Racing became a family hobby that day.

Are you doing anything special, endurance wise, to prepare for your World Challenge Touring Car class debut in March?
Absolutely. I’ve been hitting the gym extra hard strength and endurance training specific for race car drivers. Mental preparation is huge if you want to succeed in any sport so I’ve been mentally training on how to be completely focused. Since I’ve never raced or been to the St. Petersburg road course I’ve learnt the track on a racing simulator. Simulators today resemble race tracks almost exactly and are a fantastic tool to utilize.

We hear you used to be a world class water skier, what made you trade in your skies for racing?
I was fortunate enough to hold numerous state, regional and national titles water skiing. My parents have always been 100% be hide me and my goals which I’m incredibly thankful for. Water skiing taught me the meaning of the word determination. If I wanted it “I” ultimate had to go and get it. Hours upon hours on the water training with some of the best coaches pushing me to dig deeper. I loved skiing but I found my passion in racing.

You're also interested in broadcasting, do you see yourself leaving the seat one day to commentate instead of race?
I definitely want to stay in the seat for as long as I can! But I have seemed to taking a liking to media and public relations so I’m going to school for both! Z Max Radio ( gave me an opportunity to take a step into the broadcasting world. I now have a show called “Racing with Shea” Wednesdays at 9:00 a.m. where we talk about all racing, results, news and interviews. “Racing with Shea” has definitely helped prepare me for a taste of what the media world just may be like.

For you, what is your biggest accomplishment in racing so far in your career?
It’s hard to point out just one thing. I happen to be one of the fortunate ones that have an opportunity like this so every time I’m on the track is an accomplishment. But being a female driver and getting the chance to go through Lyn St James “Women in the Winners Circle” Foundation will be most memorable and so far my greatest accomplishment. Later in my career I can look back and think, “Hey, I’m one of Lyn’s girls and not to mention it will be documented!”

Shea What are you hoping to accomplish this season?
I never would have thought being the rookie would feel so great in professional racing! This year I’m focused to enhance my knowledge and race craft in the sport. My goal is to have a strong rookie season and finishing races. I understand the power of partnership in motorsports and look forward to establishing new ones and furthering current relationships.

Do you ever feel like being a woman in racing is a disadvantage?

I don’t feel that way at all, I love what I’m doing and hopefully will advance the sport in different venues. I can’t complain, life is pretty awesome.

What do you think about Danica Patrick's move to the minor leagues of NASCAR this season? Does her exposure benefit all woman in racing?
She’s showing that it’s no longer just a male dominated sport. Of course I love to see a strong female competitor on track at the level that she’s at and maybe with her big move it will open more doors for driven women in the sport.

Is there a time in the future you'd like to try your hat at ARCA or NASCAR stock car racing?
If the timing was right and the opportunity arose there could be a possibly but as of right now I’m focused on road racing touring car.

What do you do in your downtime away from the wheel?

Everyday life I’m a college student studying Public Relations / Media, I volunteer with New Beginnings once a week as a babysitter for five amazing little girls and am a daughter to two incredible parents. I’m always busy! I try to do as much networking as possible talking about my racing and a Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy fundraiser for my first professional race at St. Petersburg, Fla. I’m a strong believer in “do good and good will come to you.”

I feel like I can really use my racing career to help do greatness and raise awareness for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. I’m passionate about Duchenne (one of the 40+ dystrophies but it’s unfortunately a fatal one and living past 21 is very rare) because it affects my family. Matthew (1989-2008) and Jordan are my cousins who have the disease. My goal is to raise $10,000.00 by March 28 where Shea Racing will present the check at the end of the race weekend to Parent Project.


by Linda Przygodski
Contributing Writer

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