Q: How did you first become interested in driving or racing?
A: 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.
Q: How did you turn that dream into a reality?
A: I was lucky to quickly begin excelling in the motorsports world through high performance driving events all throughout Florida. I then went on to obtain my SCCA license and since then I’ve have been road racing competitively all over the nation with many organizations, from sprint races to 25 hour enduros. A lot of people ask me “Why was I so quick to turn in the water skis for a racing?” I loved water skiing and skiing helped shape the person I am today, but racing became my passion. Once I realized that racing for me was much more than a hobby, things all of a sudden became much more serious. I knew what I wanted to do, become a professional race car driver.
Q: Describe your very first race and/or your most exciting driving experience whether is was a race or not.
A: In 2008 I drove in my first intense endurance race, the 25 Hours of ThunderHill. I was more pumped up than ever! So many family members and friends came together to help sponsor the race. I remember thinking to myself if this was anything like what the pro’s would be like I WANTED MORE! But one other experience has just put it over the top. 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 forever!”
Q: Who were your influences? Your heroes? And how did that inspire you to choose driving as a pursuit?
A: I know how cliché this sounds but my parents are my heroes. My mom is my biggest fan and always supports everything I do. My dad is my motivator and he makes me strive to be better. I kind of grew up as my dad’s son (so to speak) and just as a son doesn’t want to let his dad down, I just as much don’t want to let him down either. There’s so many people that have influenced and inspired me throughout my life and there’s nothing better than finding someone that believes in you and your dreams… supportiveness is sometimes the best sponsorship.
Q: Tips/techniques: what are some of the things you have learned and how did you come to learn them?
A: In the beginning of my racing career Skip Barber instruction greatly helped improve my driving at a fast rate. After every practice the drivers and instructors have a download session. Not one but every instructor told me if I following where my eyes are looking right now, I’ll be in trouble when I really get up to speed. Such a simple tip but so many forget at times is to keep your eyes ahead. If you’re watching the car ahead of you smack the wall you just might end up having an encounter with it too.
Q: What are your dreams and future aspirations as relate to driving or racing?
A: I never would have thought being the rookie in World Challenge 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. My ultimate goal and dream is to be a professional driver road racing. I’m a strong believer in “do good and good will come to you.” Entering into my first professional race isn’t just about me. Shea Racing together with Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy established a fundraiser in benefit of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Duchenne is something I’m passionate about because it affects my own family. Matthew (1989-2008) and Jordan are my cousins and are affected by the disease. (Duchenne is one of the only fatal MD’s and it’s very rare that you live past 21 years old.) I feel like I’m in a position where I can really do greatness and raise awareness and dollars to END Duchenne.
Q: What obstacles have you had to overcome?
A: Other determined drivers might read this and feel exactly how I feel. Trying to find funding can be one of the greatest obstacles! Finding partners is an everyday job for me. To find someone that’s willing to invest in your dream and even see it as a business opportunity can be difficult. But like so many other sports if you want it bad enough you’ll try as hard as you have to too succeed.
Q: What are the unique challenges that you feel women face in what is considered predominately a male sport?
A: I’d say the biggest challenge would be the natural car knowledge that most men already have. For me it’s been a learn process and I’m continually learning. But I love what I’m doing and hopefully will advance the sport in different venues. I can’t complain, life is pretty awesome.
Q: What advice would you give to a female driver of any age who wants to pursue driving as a hobby or a serious sport?
A: To believe in yourself. If you think you can’t, you won’t. If you think you can, you will.
Q: How would you sum up what driving has meant to you?
A: Being the driver is just one aspect of the dream. I hope to have done something really memorable when I retire someday. I hope to give back in a big way utilizing my racing career. And I hope to have become a role model for a young female driver. Racing has helped me develop into a young business woman. And every time I sit in the race seat and grip the wheel I really feel like I’ve found my place, as a race car driver.